Cannabis in Canada

Few people truly understand the medical marijuana situation in this country. That is the way it was intended to be. The federal medical exemption program has been flawed right from the start, with only a small percentage of applicants actually receiving exemptions, and a process which is obscenely underfunded and unnecessarily complicated. Most in the general public think that everything is fine because we “have” medical marijuana in this country. They think the legislative battle has been won and this is a closed issue.

I have come to know the flaws of the MMAR first-hand, as I suffer from terrible migraine headaches that can only be helped by cannabis. However that is a topic for another blog post.

Here is a great summary of the medical marijuana situation by one of Canada’s most dedicated activists, Russell Barth:

Sick suggestion

By Russell Barth, The TimesJune 4, 2010


Re: Stop pot shop, says MP, TIMES, June 1

“Conservative MP Randy Kamp believes medicinal marijuana users who are getting their pot from a non-profit dispensary that just opened up in Maple Ridge should be charged for breaking the law.”

Only a Tory would say that sick people should be criminally charged for using their medicine. It is what they call “compassion.”

He says that “They have a legal mechanism to get it through Health Canada or to designate someone to grow it for them so it’s certainly not that they’re without options to get it for medical purposes. I think that’s the route they should go,” said Kamp.

Actually, we don’t. In fact, there is much about this medical pot program that the government refuses to talk about, and it has been an ongoing fiasco for over a decade.

The prohibition of marijuana died in the courts in 1997 and ’99. The medical program was put in place to prop up the dead law in a “Weekend At Bernie’s” kind of way — to convince the public that pot was still illegal even though the law was just struck down.

The Health Canada program itself has been ruled unconstitutional by at least four court rulings.

The program was put in place to prop up a prohibition that was ruled unconstitutional.

The Health Canada program is so scandalously understaffed that there is now a 24- to 30-week wait for applications to be processed (whereas it only takes a few weeks to get a gun). Simple renewals take 16 to 20 weeks.

The rules on plant and storage limits are arbitrary and do not reflect the realities of pot cultivation, making them difficult — and sometime impossible — to comply with.

Police often ignore the fact someone has a permit to grow, and tear out the plants and damage equipment regardless of the legality. People have spent days in jail with no medicine for the simple crime of having a legal pot grow.

The pot grown by the government is weak, ground up, is full of stem, seed, leaf, and chemicals. It doesn’t even look like pot, it looks like the stuff you sprinkle on the floor to soak up vomit. It is also $5 per gram, which is an outrage because it is sub-standard, and it has already been paid for by taxpayers.

The federal regulations “allow” the permit holder to possess and use marijuana, but provincial laws forbid the simple possession of cannabis in a variety of locations, like busses, cars, restaurants, bars, and just about everywhere else, which places the permit holders in a legal conundrum.

If a grower loses a crop to bugs or fungus, which can happen even in the cleanest facilities, patients can be left with little to no medicine for months at a time. If they try to buy the government pot as a “back up” until their own garden produces something useful, they must relinquish their grow permits. There is no back up, there is no middle ground, and this can leave patients with no legal way to obtain medicine for months at a stretch.

It should also be noted that since the regulations were never enacted as law — technically — participants in the program are under no legal obligation to adhere to them, nor do the police or government have any real legal jurisdiction to enforce them.

Canadians are all living in a grey area where marijuana is not yet legal, but no longer illegal.

Russell Barth,

Nepean, Ont.

We are living in contentious times. The raids are going to continue, and will certainly increase if the Harper Conservatives get a majority government. We know what they are going to do. The responsibility falls to us. We need more of this. We need to open the eyes of our neighbours to the hell that medical marijuana patients face in this country.