Sick and dying Canadians can apply to Health Canada for a licence to use marijuana to ease their symptoms, but an exclusive Global News investigation has learned drug dealers are hijacking the licencing process.
Global National health specialist Jennifer Tryon spoke to one marijuana dealer, whose identity and location are being concealed in exchange for information.
He has 73 plants — enough for seven kilograms of pot — and it’s all legal. “Basically, I have a Health Canada licence to possess. I also have a Health Canada licence to grow,” he says.
That licence to grow means he’s supposed to use all of the pot himself as medication. But he is growing far more than he would need himself, so he’s been selling the excess to traffick marijuana.
The dealer says he uses the profits to support his family.
Global News has discovered if you’re willing to pay, getting access to a medical marijuana licence is easy.
“I came to the doctor’s office prepared with the Health Canada papers in my hand and cash in my pocket and hoped for the best… I wouldn’t have the licence if I didn’t pay that $250,” the dealer says.
In an instant, he says, his business was born.
Due to the stigma surrounding pot and absence of guidelines on what to prescribe it for, most doctors refuse to sign the Health Canada paperwork for a licence. That reluctance has led to a bottlenecking of patients flocking to doctors, like Dr. Rob Kamermans, who are willing to see patients and sign — even if it’s for cash.
Sources tell Global News that in 2011, Kamermans signed nearly 5,000 of these applications. That accounts for nearly one-third of all the licences in Canada.
To reach people, he runs makeshift clinics out of hotels across Canada.
Chris Lawson attended one of these clinics because he was desperately seeking help for his arthritis. “Along with the medical files and myself, we were also told to bring a fee of $250 in cash,” he recalls.
He says in a matter of 10 minutes, he had the signature he needed to access the program. “The part I thought was odd was that there was no receipt.”
Lawson says while there were nearly 20 other people in line that day, he wasn’t sure they were all patients.
Global News tracked down Kamermans to ask if he knew who he was signing for. Were they really patients? Or were they criminals? “How do I know patients that come to my office aren’t criminals? It’s the same thing,” the doctor says.
“There’s nothing illegal, nothing immoral about it,” Kamermans adds.
With each form costing $250, and nearly 5,000 forms signed, that amounts to about $1.2 million in profits.
Ottawa has pledged to a new medical marijuana program in two years.
In the meantime, the Federation of Medical Authorities in Canada has a warning for anyone involved in signing licence applications for money. Dr. Yves Robert says, “It is an unacceptable behaviour to profit off a system, to make money for their own benefit.”
Jennifer’s full investigation on the abuse of Health Canada’s medical marijuana program will air on 16×9, Saturday at 7 PM on Global Television.
– Article from Global News.