Open Letter of Concern for the Health and Safety of Canada's Medicinal Cannabis Community
On January 1st, Canadians for Safe Access posted a document titled "Open Letter of Concern for the Health and Safety of Canada's Medicinal Cannabis Community". The Letter of Concern has been temporarily removed from this site while the CSA explores its legal options in response to a threat by Prairie Plant Systems to sue us for "defamatory libel".
The Letter of Concern is a compendium of all the information currently available to medical users in regards to the Health Canada/PPS supply of cannabis, with concerns divided into 4 categories:
1. quality and potency
2. heavy metals
3. biological contamination
4. gamma irradiation
This was not the first time that we had raised these specific concerns - we have informed both PPS and Health Canada on numerous occasions through written communications, phone conversations and public consultations that Canada's medicinal cannabis users - who are after all the end-users of this federal program and cannabis product - would like these matters addressed to their satisfaction. To this date, they have yet to be adequately addressed.
Unlike other treatments or pharmaceutical products, Health Canada has granted a supply-side monopoly to PPS, so federal users don't have the option of simply going to another legal source. Had we been able to put forward an alternative, or seek out a competitor who might be more attentive and responsive to patient concerns, we certainly would have exercised that right; unfortunately, this is simply not an option under the current Health Canada program. Until the current circumstances change, if we are to have a better quality legal cannabis product for research and distribution in Canada, it will only come about as a result of improvements to the PPS supply.
As part of the "Cease and Desist" order sent by the offices of Stevenson, Hood, Thornton, Beaubier on behalf of PPS, a document composed by Brent Zettl - President and CEO of PPS - was included which questioned some of the data in CSA's Open Letter. CSA welcomes dialogue on this issue, and in the spirit of openness, transparency and cooperation when we repost the open letter, we will post Mr. Zettlšs response to it, and will elaborate on our interpretation of the data in question, the majority of which comes from the government's and PPS' own testing of the federal cannabis supply
CSA maintains that the "Open Letter of Concern" was just that, an outline of areas that need further exploration and explanation if our nation's medicinal cannabis community is ever to feel safe and secure in accessing the federal supply of cannabis. The letter is based on solid facts, hours of research, and many of the government's own tests of the PPS product. The results of the tests cited within the letter, like all scientific documents, are subject to differing interpretations. CSA's ongoing role on behalf of its constituents is to ensure "safe access" for legitimate users, and thus our conclusions will naturally fall on the side of safety for our nation's critically and chronically ill.
CSA never uses "half-truths" or "dated facts" in the "Open Letter", as they are accused by PPS. We cite problems, both historical and ongoing, and clearly acknowledge improvements where they have been made, such as the recent increase in THC levels. If PPS wishes to be recognized as being "committed to product quality improvement or safety", then we suggest they must 1) develop a mechanism to obtain patient feedback; 2) acknowledge and accept responsibility for areas of concern; and 3) work with organizations such as CSA to address concerns and to put forth acceptable solutions; 4) cease spurious legal threats against the very people who are working so hard to improve both this product and the federal program as a whole.
Our hope was that the CSA "Open Letter of Concern" would be an amalgamation of all legitimate patient concerns, which could then serve as a roadmap for both PPS and Health Canada to follow towards a higher degree of consumer safety and satisfaction. PPS's attempt to silence patient concerns through threats of litigation, rather than addressing end-user complaints, is both a violation of our Section 2(b) Charter right to Freedom of Expression as well as an indication of the uncompassionate approach of this company towards the end-users of their cannabis product. We demand that PPS retract their threat immediately, and hope that in the future they will prove more responsive to consumer feedback. If they truly wish to escape public scrutiny, then we respectfully suggest that they cease bidding on public contracts.
If you have questions about the PPS product or about PPS threatening to sue CSA for voicing concerns of medical cannabis users, you can contact Health Minister Dosanjh. Please request that he intervene to have the threat removed.