Health Canada’s Plan for Medical Cannabis Will Violate Patients’ Rights, says the BCCLA
by British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
Today the BC Civil Liberties Association called for sweeping reforms to Health Canada’s Medical Marihuana Access Program (MMAP). Health Canada is preparing to amend the MMAP, but the BCCLA say its proposal is heading in the wrong direction.
Health Canada’s proposal would have patients directly authorized by physicians to use medical marihuana and patients would have to purchase their medical marihuana from licensed commercial producers.
Micheal Vonn, BCCLA Policy Director:
“The MMAP has never provided genuine access to needed medications for patients. A recent Ontario court decision struck down the MMAP as unconstitutional when the judge found that physicians are overwhelmingly refusing to participate in the program. Health Canada’s proposal is to provide doctors with up-to-date information on medical marihuana, but the lingering stigma of marihuana criminalization isn’t going to be fixed with some brochures for doctors. Hundreds of thousands of patients with chronic and terminal illnesses need access to this medication right now, and while physician education is important and welcome, physician-as-gatekeeper is not working. Patients need authorization to prescribe extended to other health care providers.”
The BCCLA says Health Canada must not restrict access only to commercial producers who would set their own prices and mail medication to patients.
“Health Canada is going out of its way to simply ignore the obvious solution to the problem of access. Community-based dispensaries (i.e. “compassion clubs”) have a proven track record of providing people with needed medication and information. When you have a family member who is battling cancer and needs medical marihuana for nausea, vomiting and weight loss caused by chemotherapy, where exactly do you go to learn how to prepare marihuana for smoking or for ingestion? This is the kind of service being provided by community-based dispensaries and Health Canada needs to stop criminalizing and start endorsing the success of these dispensaries in order to respond to real and urgent patient needs.”
The BCCLA has opposed the criminalization of marihuana for over 40 years.