Health Canada 1500% Cannabis Mark-Up Increases Suffering of Critically Ill Canadians
April 16, 2007: Canadians for Safe Access (CSA) was shocked to learn of the 1500% Health Canada mark-up of medical cannabis distributed to critically and chronically Canadians. "This is a direct result of the unbeneficial monopoly that Health Canada has granted itself in regards to medical cannabis access and supply, and this policy is adding significantly to the suffering and financial strain of some of our sickest citizens" said CSA spokesperson Philippe Lucas, himself a federally-registered medical cannabis user.
CSA are calling on the government to immediately forgive the $143,000 of debt owed to Health Canada by cancer patients, people living with HIV/AIDS, hep-C sufferers and others who are unable to pay for this for this product, and for Health Canada to begin discussions with provincial health authorities about cost-coverage for medical cannabis, whether it comes from Health Canada or community-based compassion societies, which currently provide medicine to over 10,000 people in Canada.
"We do all we can to provide cannabis as inexpensively as possible. It is astonishing that even though Health Canada is in the position to provide this medicine at lower costs, it choses to exploit the participants in this program. Ultimately costs have to be covered for medical users" said Rielle Capler, spokesperson for the British Columbia Compassion Club Society, Canada's oldest and largest non-profit medical cannabis dispensary.
Additionally, CSA joins MP Libby Davies, Senator Pierre-Claude Nolin and the Canadian AIDS Society in calling for a financial/performance audit of this federal program, and for Health Canada to work with compassion clubs to develop a regulatory scheme for community-based access to medical cannabis.
Canadians for Safe Access discovered this inexcusable mark-up through an Access to Information Act request of the production contract between Health Canada and Prairie Plant Systems, the sole licensed medical cannabis producer in Canada since 2001. Sadly, it is but one of the many serious problems with a federal program that is only protecting 1700 of the estimated 1 million critically and chronically ill Canadians currently using medical cannabis. This and other issues will be part of a constitutional challenge of the Marihuana Medical Access Division launched by the Vancouver Island Compassion Society that will be heard in the B.C. Supreme Court from May 9th-18th.