Pubdate: Tue, 06 Oct 2009
Source: Concordian, The (CN QU Edu)
Copyright: 2009 The Concordian
Author: Ioana Vanessa Bezman


The Marijuana Party of Canada's founder was on hand to help celebrate
the 10th anniversary of medical marijuana distribution in Montreal.

The past 10 years have been a bit of an uphill battle, Marc-Boris
Saint-Maurice said.

Medical marijuana is available to members of Montreal's Compassion
Centre where the celebration, hosted by two original founders of the
movement, took place last week.

While the centre aims to provide safe and reliable marijuana (and
cookies and muffins) for medicinal purposes, its mission has been
challenged by Health Canada and family doctors.

"Doctors are afraid to sign the permit, due to increased
discrimination against them, so we take responsibility for those
patients," said Saint-Maurice.

Patients with HIV/AIDS, cancer, hepatitis C or epilepsy, for example,
need official documents attesting to their illness in order to become
members. The centre will examine patients who can't obtain a signed
Health Canada permit from their doctors.

The centre makes a point of telling its clients that although their
membership allows them to administer their medication wherever they
please, it does not give them immunity from authorities.

A Health Canada spokesperson said the centre does not have the right
to operate. "It has no legal authority to provide access or to produce
and distribute marijuana," said Health Canada spokesperson Gary Scott

According to Health Canada, once a patient has a permit, they can
either get their medication from the government agency, or apply for a
licence allowing them or a friend to grow a crop.

Of the estimated million medical marijuana users nation-wide, only
3,000 Canadians (about 10 per cent of which are Quebecers) have
official permits, according to the centre's statistician.

Saint-Maurice said the process of obtaining a permit, which can take
months, is too long and complex. "This is time most suffering people
don't have," he said. 
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