Pubdate: Wed, 02 Nov 2011
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2011 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Adam Greenblatt


Re: MDs Refuse To Sign Medical Marijuana Form, Oct. 31.

It is sad that physicians have been made the reluctant gatekeepers 
for legal cannabis by Health Canada's Marihuana Medical Access 
Program (MMAP). Despite a decade of operation, Health Canada's 
program continues to obstruct access to Canadians who rely on this 
medicine and, as a result, it continues to be found constitutionally 
defective by our courts.

Meanwhile, medical cannabis dispensaries (a.k.a. "compassion 
centres") are filling the void. This year, the Canadian Association 
of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) was founded in order to 
formalize the best practices and to ensure that high-quality patient 
care is available nation-wide. For over 15 years, community-based 
medical cannabis dispensaries have been providing more than 30,000 
Canadians with safe access to medical cannabis products at almost no 
cost to the taxpayer. CAMCD believes the Canadian Medical Association 
is right to be concerned about physician liability around prescribing 
cannabis, but its concern over lack of research misses the point. 
What the CMA must acknowledge is that the antiquated policies that 
inhibit research, while needlessly criminalizing physicians and 
patients alike, are what truly need to be re-examined."

Health Canada's recent announcement that the MMAP is to undergo 
massive reform is in itself a tacit admission of failure thus far. 
Health Canada is right about only one thing: It should not be in the 
business of selling marijuana. Medical cannabis dispensaries have the 
established patient populations, infrastructure and social capital to 
contribute to the rapidly-growing body of research into cannabis as 
medicine. It is time for dispensaries to be recognized by the 
government for the legitimate health services they provide.

Adam Greenblatt, director, Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis 
Dispensaries, Montreal.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom