Pubdate: Fri, 01 Mar 2002
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Rick Reimer


Upon being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November 1998, I submitted 
one of Canada's first applications for a medical marijuana exemption. About 
300 exemptions have been issued by Health Canada on an ad hoc basis.

But, once again, I am in danger of becoming a criminal in the eyes of the law.

In response to a deadline set by the Ontario Court of Appeal, the 
government enacted a new set of regulations and procedures effective July 
31, 2001. While a number of medicinal users offered to help the government 
in crafting the new rules, our help was largely ignored.

Not surprisingly, the result is a hypocritical and untenable system that is 
an insult to Canadians generally, and to medicinal marijuana users in 

The biggest roadblock we face is that each application for a permit must be 
signed by a doctor who must, among other things, agree that the "benefits 
fro m the applicant's recommended use of marijuana outweigh any risks 
associated with that use."

Doctors, warned that they might be held personally liable in the event of a 
lawsuit, have told the government they won't sign. As a result, I am likely 
to lose my exemption by late May: No doctor will sign my application under 
current conditions.

My disease has not improved, nor will it. Yet soon my marijuana use will 
again be a crime. Instead of conferring a medicinal benefit at a cost that 
I am fully prepared to bear on my own, it will again become a "social 
problem" at which all Canadians will vainly throw money.

Perhaps the current wave of public support will finally convince the 
Canadian government that prohibition of marijuana is not only wrong, but 
also impossible.

The clear solution is to decriminalize cannabis generally, not just for 
medicinal use. Marijuana is, after all, far less dangerous than many 
intoxicants that have no medicinal benefits and are permitted without question.

Rick Reimer,

Barry's Bay
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