Ontario Court Ruling Recognizes Good Work of Canada's Compassion Clubs and Societies, but Fails to Remedy Ongoing Problems With the Medical Marijuana Access Regulations (MMAR)
Oct 9, 2003: While the court upheld a lower court decision that the MMAR were unconstitutional, the remedies it provided to render the program constitutional were insufficient to make it truly fair, workable and effective.
The Ontario Appellate Court realized the redundancy of having two specialists support an application to the MMAR, and have thus lowered the requirement to a single specialist. However, they failed to recognize that the Canadian Medical Association and other provincial and federal physician organizations have instructed doctors not to participate in the program at all. Given that the program puts forth physicians as the only gatekeepers to access, the MMAR remains untenable. Currently only around 500 Canadians hold licenses to possess, while compassion clubs across the country serve over 5000 Canadians, all with legitimate need and recommendations from health practitioners.
The judges expressed that if the numbers of people gaining access was too low, further cases could be brought back to the courts. It is antithetic to fundamental justice that bureaucratic progress in the area of medicinal cannabis comes from the ongoing persecution of Canadaís sick and dying; Canadaís critically and chronically ill deserve better legal protection of their health and liberty.
The ruling also ordered changes to sections of the MMAR that address cultivation and supply, opening the door to the potential licensing of established and experienced cannabis producers and distributors such as compassion clubs and their affiliated cultivators. In fact, the judges recommended that route of distribution:
 "...a central component of the Government's case is that there is an established part of the black market, which has historically provided a safe source of marihuana to those with the medical need for it, and that there is therefore no supply issue. The Government says that these "unlicensed suppliers" should continue to serve as the source of supply for those with a medical exemption. Since our remedy in effect simply clears the way for a licensing of these suppliers, the Government cannot be heard to argue that our remedy is unworkable."
Considering the poor quality of cannabis produced by Prairie Plant Systems on behalf of Health Canada, the end of this illogical monopoly is a relief. However, it is too early to determine what impositions Health Canada might put in place in regards to the licensing of Canadaís compassion clubs and societies.
Canadaís network of experienced suppliers urge Health Canada to follow this court decision and to proceed with further consultation with those who have the most experience and expertise in this matter: medical users and the compassion clubs and societies who have worked to relieve the suffering of so many sick Canadians for so long.
Canadians for Safe Access feels that this costly bureaucracy should not come between an individual and their health care practitioner, and call upon health Canada to decentralize their program. We hope that Health Canada takes this opportunity to put in place regulations that are truly effective and compassionate, including a framework for covering the costs of this medicine for Canadaís sickest citizens.
CSA would like to send our thanks and admiration to Alan Young and to the hard-working and long-suffering Hitzig group. As todayís court decision suggests, Health Canadaís continued failure in this important area of medicine can no longer be the benchmark of our progress; Canadians simply deserve better.