HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Medicinal Marijuana User Takes Ottawa, Province, And
Pubdate: Wed, 28 Aug 2002
Source: Saanich News (CN BC)
Author: Vern Faulkner


Eric Young Has Taken His Battle To Secure Medicinal Marijuana To The 
Supreme Court Of BC

A Saanich man is taking two levels of government and the College of 
Physicians and Surgeons to court in order to secure his right to consume 

Eric Young suffers from multiple sclerosis, and is one of about 800 people 
across the country legally allowed to possess and consume marijuana to help 
manage his condition.

Changes to federal regulations state that Young must obtain a prescription 
from a designated specialist in order to legally obtain and use marijuana.

Yet the College of Physicians and Surgeons has issued a directive that 
Young and his lawyer, Lloyd Duhaime, interpret as nothing less than an 
order to its members mandating them not to prescribe the material.

The directive, Duhaime says, deprives Young of his rights -- as granted 
under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and they have lodged a petition 
to the Supreme Court of B.C. naming the college, and both the federal and 
provincial governments as respondents.

The intent, says Duhaime, is to secure Young the right to utilize an 
effective drug proven to provide relief, and should be given the same right 
to obtain medication as patients with other permanent conditions.

'He's about to lose his medication, because the government has made it 
impossible -- and I'm not exaggerating -- to get,' says Duhaime.

Federal legislation indicates only a designated specialist can issue a 
prescription for marijuana, but Duhaime says the college has not designated 
any physician with that power.

'They've gone one step further -- they've written all their specialists and 
told them not to issue any prescriptions,' Duhaime claims.

The official position statement of the college states that 'Physicians are 
advised that they should not prescribe any drug for their patients without 
knowing the risks, benefits, potential complications and drug 
interactions....' and further states that physicians could be considered 
liable for side-effects encountered if the drug has not passed the same 
tests required of other pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Morris VanAndel, registrar for the college, says that if physicians are 
ordered to treat marijuana as a prescription drug, it would be wise for 
doctors to wait until marijuana undergoes the same battery of tests other 
drugs must pass to be declared safe for prescription.

VanAndel says the College's main concern is that physicians will be deluged 
with requests to prescribe marijuana to those who don't have a legitimate need.

'The flaw in this whole argument is that the federal government has made 
the gatekeepers for medical marijuana,' VanAndel declares.

VanAndel says Young isn't being prevented from achieving his goals. 'I 
don't see that in our position,' VanAndel asserts.

However, VanAndel skirts around the fact that physicians will likely not 
have experience prescribing marijuana, as they have not been allowed to -- 
until now.

The college position statement adds that there are very few published 
studies available on the benefits of marijuana in its smoked form. Yet 
numerous studies in medical journals dating back to 1989 outline the 
benefits multiple sclerosis patients gain from smoking marijuana while 
indicating side effects similar to -- or less serious than -- other 
prescription medications used to control the disorder.

The college's main concern lies with claims that marijuana assists in pain 
relief, VanAndel concedes.

'There's nothing that says that (a physician) who has experience with MS, 
and with prescribing marijuana, could not prescribe it,' says VanAndel.

'Those who prescribe it should be knowledgeable in that area,' he reiterates.

But Duhaime says that the college isn't being flexible, and by its actions 
is preventing Young from a reasonable medical decision.

'We got a response back from the doctors,' Duhaime says. 'They've called 
our action frivolous. That's just insulting to Eric, given that this guy 
has serious multiple sclerosis.'

Young was reluctant to discuss his situation in detail, because the matter 
is before the court, but suggests doctors might feel pressured by 
pharmaceutical companies.

'They don't want medical marijuana to advance, because it has beneficial 
advantages,' Young explains. 'Most pharmaceutical (companies) won't make 
money off it -- they're not interested in the promotion of marijuana.'

Young is also near to the end of the exemption period allowing him to 
legally smoke marijuana, and Duhaime says that the College of Physicians 
and Surgeons is    stonewalling attempts to grant another exemption -- 
which would effectively strip Young of the legal right to use marijuana. If 
that status doesn't change, Duhaime says that he will be forced to make 
further legal challenges, or seek assistance from the federal government.

'Hopefully, (federal Health Minister) Anne McLellan will give him a short 
extension,' Duhaime explains.
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