Pubdate: Sat, 05 Jan 2013
Source: Standard, The (St. Catharines, CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 St. Catharines Standard
Author: Linda Crabtree


An announcement Dec. 14 said Health Canada is getting out of the
business of medical marijuana and leaving it up to private licensed
growers to grow and distribute and medical practitioners to prescribe.

The Health Canada document is 140-plus pages long and I'm assuming by
medical practitioners they mean our GPs and specialists, but who
knows? This is passing the buck onto the medical sector that has
already proven it doesn't want to deal with it.

The price of medical marijuana will go up to $8 a gram because it will
no longer be subsidized by the government. It is now between $1.80 and
$5 a gram. Apparently, Health Canada's cannabis wasn't very good, so
few used it.

Medical marijuana growers will be allowed to sell marijuana to those
with the proper papers and their operations will be highly regulated
and inspected. They will set the price.

But how does that get the government out of the marijuana business? It
doesn't. It just gets it out of the marijuana licensing to possess and
growing business.

I'm thinking we won't have a chance of knowing what's in the marijuana
we buy because the government's record of inspecting and vigilance
over various sectors to date hasn't been stellar. When money gets
tight, inspectors get cut. Soon, the growers will be regulating
themselves. Come to think of it, that might not be such a bad thing.
Consumer demand will dictate what is grown and that might spark an
incentive to experiment with better medical strains. Especially at $8
a gram.

And, at that price, people will still grow their own. It's a

Health Canada proposes that marijuana be treated as any other
medicine. Will pharmacists dispense it and insurance companies cover

But, getting back to where it begins - the medical practitioner.
Doctors who choose to prescribe will be bombarded. The medical
profession will have no choice but to simply say no, across the board.

However, there will always be those who seize the opportunity to make
a fast buck.

To have my Health Canada application to possess medical marijuana
signed by a doctor, I paid $250. I didn't know it then (2011), but he
was being investigated by the RCMP. He has since been charged in
relation to fraudulent medicinal marijuana endorsements, amongst other
things, in five provinces. When I saw him, I figured he could make
about $9,000 that day if everyone he saw from early morning till
closing time paid what I did. Don't get me wrong; I was grateful that
someone, anyone, would sign my application, but paying someone sitting
behind a curtain in the dark, who asked me maybe two questions, made
me feel that in searching for pain relief I was doing something wrong.

And, I have since been told on good authority that people are paying
$1,500 to $2,500 to have an application signed. Unscrupulous lawyers
act for doctors, advertise, and then when the money is paid, have the
doctor sign the paperwork. It's a pretty good racket for something
that shouldn't cost a cent.

Won't this new scheme of Health Canada simply open the door for more
of this type of fraud?

I asked my pain specialist about the 6-15 month wait to get into a
pain clinic in Hamilton. He replied that most general practitioners
don't want to deal with medical marijuana, so they send their patients
there. And, if it weren't for drug seekers, people in real need would
be seen many months sooner.

A recent TVO program on marijuana featured five professionals
well-versed in North America's love/hate, decriminalize/legalize
marijuana debate. What I took from it was that decriminalization and
research is the way to go. Getting further from plants and into pure
compounds will allow us to be highly selective for specific medical
problems, one of the experts said. Now he's talking my language.

It will be interesting to see how the public responds to Health
Canada's proposal. We have 75 days to respond.

Email:  ; fax: 613-941-7240 or 
write: Bureau of Medical Marihuana, Regulatory Reform Controlled 
Substances and Tobacco Directorate, Healthy Environments and Consumer 
Safety Branch Health Canada, AL3503D, Ottawa ON K1A 0K9
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