CANNABIS CULTURE – A group of medical marijuana patients travelled to Parliament Hill today to draw attention to the government’s “wildly dysfunctional and onerous medical marijuana regulations” and the effects they are having on sick Canadians.
The Canadian Medicinal Cannabis Conference held a press conference in Ottawa on January 31 in the Parliament Press Gallery.
“We’ve gathered today to draw attention of MPs, the media, and the public to the ten-year long fiasco being perpetrated by Health Canada,” said activist and writer Russell Barth. “Some of us want the unconstitutional program to be repaired; some want the program, and the unconstitutional prohibition which it props up, completely abolished.”
Former police officer and med-pot patient Allison Myrden, licensed grower Adam Greenblatt, and Liberal Member of Parliament Dr. Carolyn Bennett also spoke at the press conference and asked the government to make changes to its medical marijuana program, which has seen long delays in licencing renewals – so long that legal users are being raided and harassed by police.
“Ten years ago, we put in place a government program, a legal government program, that would allow sick patients to have access to a medicine that worked for them,” said Bennett, who is also a physician. “We now are seeing a perfect storm of administrative delays that have these patients with a licence waiting four to six months till the point that it expires – and then they are criminalized because they don’t have a licence because the government’s backlogs and lack of resources have put them there.”
Marijuana is used by thousands of Canadians to relieve the pain and symptoms of a wide assortment of debilitating diseases, and is increasing being recognized by doctors for its healing properties.
“As a physician I had many patients who had huge success using medical marijuana, particularly those with MS,” Bennett said. “We are calling upon this government to fix, right now, the administrated delays and get these people their licences so they are not at risk of criminalization.”
The group also criticized the Conservative government’s Bill S-10, which was quietly passed by the Senate of Canada in December and is now being considered by the House of Commons.
S-10 introduces mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent marijuana offences into Canadian law for the first time. This legislation would take power away from judges in considering if someone had a medical need for cannabis, and includes penalties that seem to target medical users directly – like 18 months in jail for making and sharing edible cannabis products.
Click here for more information about Bill S-10 from Cannabis Culture.