Ill Canadians rally for improvements to medical marijuana program
May 03, 2007
Debbie Stultz-Giffin, Nova News (Canada)Medical marijuana patients and advocates, cannabis consumers and freedom supporters, will rally in the Halifax North Commons from 1 to 4 p.m., May 5, to mark the annual Global Marijuana March as we join over 200 cities worldwide to seek changes to current cannabis laws. Last month Canadians learned about Health Canada gouging critically and chronically ill Canadians a whopping 1,500 per cent markup for medicinal marijuana.
Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana Society (MUMM) is a registered non-profit organization that educates others about the safety of medical marijuana while advocating and lobbying for the rights of consumers, distributors and producers of medical marijuana.
MUMM will be calling for the federal government to:
1) immediately forgive the $143,000 of debt owed to Health Canada by cancer patients, people living with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C sufferers and others who are unable to pay for their medicine. Thanks to Canadian taxpayers, this medicine has already been paid for from the government coffers and now ill people are being forced to chose between medicine and food in order to survive while being asked to pay for the cannabis again at a highly inflated rate.
2) begin meeting with provincial health authorities to insure that costs are covered for medical cannabis, whether the medicine comes from Health Canada, designated growers, compassion societies or is produced by the patient. Most Exemption Holders live on lower, fixed incomes and medical marijuana is essential for their overall daily state of health and well being.
3) allow for easier access to the Medical Marijuana program for patients who require medical cannabis to treat the symptoms of chronic diseases and conditions. Currently, the Medical Marijuana Access Regulations only protect 1,700 of the estimated one million gravely ill Canadians relying on medical cannabis. Those patients unable to obtain exemptions are subject to being arrested, charged and potentially convicted.
4) legalize and legitimize Canadian Compassion Clubs immediately. A survey by the Canadian AIDS Society in 2006, determined that Canadian compassion clubs provide medicine to over 10,000 people in Canada. Health Canada should work with compassion clubs to approve a regulatory scheme for community-based access to medical cannabis so that clubs may continue to operate, but without the fear of being prosecuted.
5) promise to leave Personal-Use Production Licences and Designated-Person Production Licences intact after 2007. The recent press release noted that Health Canada is moving toward removing patients preferred methods of obtaining medicinal marijuana. Two thirds of Exemptees either grow their own medicine or opt to have an individual designated to grow it for them. Health Canada is contemplating forcing all exemptees to buy their expensive, ineffective medicine. Exemptees need access to many strains of safe, legal and affordable medicine.
6) conduct a financial/performance audit of the federal medical marijuana program. NDP MP Libby Davies, Senator Pierre-Claude Nolin and the Canadian AIDS Society have pointed out that a long overdue audit of the Medical Marijuana Department is crucial.
The unconscionable inflationary rate applied to government grown cannabis was discovered when Canadians for Safe Access, a national medical marijuana advocacy group, filed an Access to Information Act requesting a copy of the production contract between Health Canada and Prairie Plant Systems.
DEBBIE STULTZ-GIFFIN is chair of Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana Society and lives near Bridgetown, Annapolis County.