Medical Marijuana on Parliament Hill

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Medical Marijuana on Parliament Hill

The debate over medical marijuana has finally erupted on Parliament Hill, and ironically the catalyst has been the recent actions of the region’s RCMP.

RCMP investigate Buyers’ Club

On November 9, the Ottawa Citizen ran a front-page story about a local underground medical marijuana network. It highlighted the story of AIDS sufferer Jean Charles Pariseau and the grower who supplies him, Aubert Martins. Pariseau’s own crop was seized by police, and his case is now before the courts; Martins works actively to make sure that people like Pariseau continually have a safe supply of their herbal medicine.

A week after the story broke, the RCMP announced they were launching an investigation into the buyers’ club and hoped to arrest Martins and other activists. “It’s still against the law and we’re here to enforce that,” said RCMP Cpl Louis Chaisson, who is in charge of the operation.

Martins, Pariseau and Ottawa Citizen

reporter Jeremy Mercer were all questioned by officers, but they refused to cooperate. Despite the lack of any hard evidence, Chaisson told the Citizen there is a “distinct possibility” arrests will soon be made.

Public Outcry & PoliticalReaction

The ensuing public outcry, coupled with a recent Angus Reid poll showing 83% of Canadians support medical marijuana, has given a number of politicians the impetus to take action.

A day after the RCMP announced their concerns, Reform MP Jim Hart said the investigation was a “misguided use of resources,” and launched a private-members motion asking for a debate. Two days later, Minister of Justice Anne McLellan said the issue of medical marijuana “is gaining some momentum” and called for a national debate. Allan Rock, former Minister of Justice and now Minister of Health, responded by saying the government will keep an “open mind” and will take a “serious look” at the issue.

After years of lobbying, medical marijuana activists are finally sensing victory in the offing. “We won!” exclaimed drug policy researcher Kelly Conlon after learning of Anne McLellan’s announcement. While his sentiment may be a little premature, the issue is firmly on the legislative agenda and with the active support of Canadians change will soon come.

Time to mobilize

With an open invitation from the Feds, it’s time to mobilize and contact your local MP. The offices of Ministers Rock and McLellan should also be flooded with letters, phone calls, emails and faxes.

The Honourable Anne McLellan, Minister of Justice, Justice Building, 239 Wellington St, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0H8; tel (613) 992-4524; fax: (613) 990-7255; email [email protected]

The Honourable Allan Rock, Minister of Health, Department of Health, Brooke Claxton Building 0916A, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0K9; tel (613) 947-5000; fax: (613) 952-1154 email [email protected]

By Chris Clayfinis