Non-Profit Medicinal Cannabis Patient Group Threatened Into Silence
by Federally Contracted Cannabis Producer
March 1, 2005: On February 10th, Canadians for Safe Access (www.safeaccess.ca), the nationšs largest non-profit medicinal cannabis patients group, was issued a "Cease and Desist" order by the offices of Stevenson, Hood, Thornton, Beaubier, legal representatives for Prairie Plant Systems, currently the sole federally-contracted producer of medicinal cannabis in Canada. The order by PPS legal representatives claims that a document recently posted on the CSA website titled "Open Letter of Concern for the Health and Safety of Canada's Medicinal Cannabis Community" is defamatory and libelous.
The CSA "Open Letter" - which has been temporarily removed from our website at the advice of our counsel - was an amalgamation of all the research and information currently available to patients, medical users, advocates and the general public in regards to the PPS/Health Canada cannabis, and it is based on solid facts, hours of research, dozens of patient complaints, and many of the government's own tests of the PPS product. Our hope was that it would serve as a roadmap for both PPS and Health Canada to follow towards a higher degree of consumer safety and satisfaction.
Rather than addressing legitimate patient concerns, PPS has attempted to silence CSA and the medicinal cannabis community through threats of litigation, which is both a violation of our Section 2(b) Charter right to Freedom of Expression, and an indication of the uncompassionate and counter-productive approach exerted by PPS in the face of long-standing and widespread criticism of its cannabis product.
CSA and our legal representative (David M. Aaron of Shortt, Moore & Arsenault) have contacted the Offices of Minister of Health Dosanjh to demand that this legal threat by PPS - which as a result of its contract with Health Canada is actually an agent of the state in this matter - be immediately addressed and retracted.
This attempt to silence legitimate patient concerns is absolutely unacceptable, and is contrary to the interest of our nation's medicinal cannabis patients, Health Canada, and the public at large. It is our hope that this matter will be quickly resolved by the Minister of Health, and that patient-advocacy groups such as CSA will no longer have to suffer legal intimidation by private companies seeking to profit from public contracts with the federal government.