New Health Canada Medicinal Cannabis Regulations Put Demands of Police Over Needs of Patients
Health Canada's Office of Cannabis Medical Access (OCMA) has once again placed the demands of police over the needs of patients suffering from critical and chronic illnesses.
October 25, 2004: The latest set of amendments includes a plan to eventually phase out the option of personal production in favour of the pharmacy-based distribution of the government's own poor quality and potentially unsafe product.
"The inadequacy of Health Canada's product is evident: currently only 74 out of the 753 patients enrolled in the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations program purchase their cannabis from Health Canada," said Philippe Lucas of Canadians for Safe Access. He added that nearly 30% of the 93 people who originally ordered the PPS cannabis returned it to the government. "Health Canada continues to implement policies designed to entrench its monopoly on production and to placate police demands, rather than addressing the real and immediate needs and concerns of medical users," said Lucas.
Most MMAR license holders attain their supply through personal cultivation or access through compassion clubs and societies. Compassion clubs currently help over 8000 critically and chronically ill Canadians, including over half (400+) of the OCMA exemptees; all at no cost to the taxpayer. Lucas questions why Health Canada is ignoring or eliminating these options for safe access to medicine. "Our nation's critically and chronically ill are not children that need to be protected from themselves or from medicinal cannabis; they are sick and suffering and deserve the strongest and safest medicine right now."
The OCMA's new regulations necessitate the recommendation of a specialist for most applicants to gain access to the program, despite Health Canada's own acknowledgement that for many Canadians this is a major and often insurmountable hurdle. "This policy contradicts the stated intention of opening up access to a program that has actually seen a steady reduction in the rate of applications since its peak in April of 2002," said Lucas. According to Health Canada statistics, the number of participants in the program actually decreased by 28 people between July and September of this year, demonstrating that access has not been improved at all.