Releaf Magazine
9Jul/150

Medical Marijuana Producers Can Now Sell Fresh Buds, Cannabis Oil in Canada

In a big backtrack on its tough talk, the government of Canada will be allowing the sale of cannabis oil to medical marijuana users, meaning patients with prescriptions will be able to eat all sorts of THC-rich delights in the near future.

The decision comes on the back of a major loss for Ottawa in a constitutional challenge to its prohibitions on marijuana edibles and oils, as VICE News reported last month.

Previously, the law criminalized the possession of all medical marijuana products, except for dried buds. Separate regulations forbid the sale of edibles and oils.

The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the criminal prohibitions on possession, but said nothing of the regulations on sale. That left medical marijuana vendors in a legal gray zone.

That changed today, when Health Minister Rona Ambrose announced that cannabis oil and fresh marijuana buds would be authorized for sale, both of which can be used to bake cookies, brownies, and make products that are easier to ingest than dried marijuana, which has to be smoked.

"In order to eliminate uncertainty around a legal source of supply of marijuana, Health Canada has taken the immediate step of issuing ... [an exemption] allowing licensed producers to produce and sell cannabis oil and fresh marijuana buds and leaves in addition to dried marijuana," reads a release from Health Canada.

Under the new requirements, those producers licensed to sell medical marijuana must only sell and distribute the pot through the mail, indicate the THC content of the products, use child-resistant packaging, report any adverse reactions to the products, and they must not make any therapeutic claims of their product.

But while the government acquiesced to the Supreme Court, it did not drop its vocal objections to medical marijuana use.

"There continues to be little to no scientific evidence of safety or efficacy for marijuana for medical purposes including how marijuana interacts with other substances or how it affects the body when consumed in forms other than dried," the press release reads, going on to claim that marijuana can cause schizophrenia.

There is little evidence on how marijuana can work in a clinical context partly because there has been little scientific study done in Canada. The press release notes that there have been six clinical trials of medical marijuana since 2001, and that "the department has not rejected any clinical trial around marijuana for medical purposes," yet a database of clinical trials only lists two instances where cannabis has been used in scientific study, both from 2014. One is pending, while the other is ongoing.

The press releases goes on to note that the only legal way to sell the drug is over mail. "Health Canada does not license organizations such as 'compassion clubs' or 'dispensaries.' They are illegal," the government said.

VICE News has already reported on Ottawa's insistence that Vancouver police shut down the city's numerous medical marijuana dispensaries, and the council's defiance, instead opting to regulate the industry inside the city limits.

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VIA Vice News

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2Jul/150

Canada’s Supreme Court Rules Medical Marijuana Legal in All Forms

© AP Photo/ Jae C. Hong

Canucks, start baking some edibles! Medical marijuana in all of its forms is now legal in Canada.
The fight began after the head baker from the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada was acquitted of charges for trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana. Owen Smith was busted in 2009 while baking 200 pot cookies for the group.

The judge decided that not only was he not guilty, but that the law needed to be changed, as it was in violation of patients’ rights — and gave the government one year to do so.

Denver Relief patients can choose from a range of different marijuana strains with colorful names like “Ghost Train Haze.”
© PHOTO: BOB PEARSON FOR SPUTNIK
US Study Concludes Marijuana Can Kill Cancer Cells
An appeals court agreed with the judge, despite the federal government’s argument that it was illegal “to obtain or produce drugs based on a subjective belief in their therapeutic value, irrespective of medical need or lawfully available alternative treatments.”

The case was then handed over to the Supreme Court, which ruled Thursday to redefine the law and allow medical marijuana patients to choose how they would like to ingest the plant, citing the health concerns over smoking, previously the only legal way to use it.

“The evidence amply supports the trial judge’s conclusions that inhaling marijuana can present health risks and that it is less effective for some conditions than administration of cannabis derivatives,” the court decided.

Under the new guidelines, patients can choose to take the medicine in whatever form they see fit, from smoking it, to baking it in brownies, or using it in teas and oils.

In their ruling, the court also explained that banning non-dried forms of marijuana was "contrary to the principles of fundamental justice because they are arbitrary; the effects of the prohibition contradict the objective of protecting health and safety."

“Patients are now out of this legal limbo that they were floating in, possibly being arrested just for baking with their own medicine, we will now be free from this criminalization and be able to use our medicine the way we need and the best way for our body and our treatment,” medical marijuana advocate Steven Stairs told Canadian News outlet CJOB.

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VIA Sputnik News

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21Mar/150

Pot growers’ new quest: U.S. patent protection for cannabis seeds

Ben Holmes gently lowers the turntable needle onto the album, and Traffic’s “Medicated Goo,” begins to play.

Steve Winwood’s wistful tenor sweeps through the Centennial Seeds laboratory: “My own homegrown recipe’ll see you through.”

“Everyone stole from Stevie Winwood,” Holmes says, his foot tapping as he injects a syringe of dark, syrupy liquid into his gas chromatograph.

No one is stealing from Holmes, a self-taught scientist, engineer, farmer and cannabis seed geek who next month will take a rare step to apply for a patent on a laboriously created cannabis superstrain.

Pot growers’ new quest: U.S. patent protection for cannabis seeds
Cannabis seed developer Ben Holmes uses THC to calibrate a gas chromatograph before conducting tests at his Centennial Seeds lab in Lafayette. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)

If it is awarded, the U.S. patent on Holmes’ medical-grade Otto II strain will be the first to protect a cannabis plant and a first step in establishing plant-breeder rights for growers who only a few years ago were considered criminals.

“This industry came up in stealth, born in basements and crawl spaces,” Holmes said. “But now, with companies forming and making larger investments, the desire to protect intellectual property is becoming paramount. Bleeding-edge stuff, right here.”

Indeed. Gone are the days when pie-eyed longhairs haphazardly hurled pollen into jungles of pot plants, hoping to meld two strains.

Today’s top breeders are geneticists, taking years to weed through carefully engineered generations of cannabis to elevate the most desired traits.

Some of these new superstrains are high in cannabidiol, or CBD, one of several dozen cannabinoid chemical compounds in cannabis and the plant’s major non-psychoactive ingredient. CBD has been credited with relieving some epileptic seizures, prompting widespread calls for additional research.

Other more utilitarian superstrains are resistant to mites or the crop-killing powdery mildew that plagues grow operations across Colorado.

Some superstrains are simply super stony, with sky-high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis.

 


Pot growers’ new quest: U.S. patent protection for cannabis seeds
Colorado seed developer Ben Holmes displays Carmagnola hemp seeds at his Centennial Seeds lab in Lafayette. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)

The gas chromatograph is Holmes’ key tool in shaping Otto II, a high-CBD, low-THC strain he hopes can fuel medical therapies. The 50-year-old gizmo separates molecules and converts them into an electrical impulse. A green line tracking across a screen reveals the level of THC in the substance. That line will be the baseline for a measurement of Otto II.

Holmes produces a well-worn legal tablet laden with acronyms and millivolt values from the gas chromatograph. Those figures reveal his painstaking progress toward breeding the THC out of, and the CBD into, his treasured varietal.

It is, in many ways, the result of a lifelong career dedicated to breeding, growing, cloning, engineering and charting the most useful cannabis plants.

As Winwood sings the oft-covered “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” Holmes shares his plans to protect Otto II, which ranks among the most valuable of his collection of 400 varieties of cannabis seeds, both marijuana and hemp, most of which are stored in an industrial freezer in his Lafayette lab. In addition to the patent, he hopes to be the first cannabis breeder to secure protection under the Plant Variety Protection Act, the seminal plant breeders’ rights legislation from 1970.

“The value of that seed, long-term, could be very, very valuable — an annuity,” said Holmes, a father of two who serves on the state’s Industrial Hemp Advisory Committee and is collaborating on the University of Colorado’s groundbreaking Cannabis Genomic Research Initiative.

“Everyone who does this wants to produce something with durability,” he said. “A seed with good utility that produces well can have longevity for generations.”

Holmes is a sort of modern-day Luther Burbank, the pioneering American botanist and horticulturist who developed more than 800 varieties and strains of plants in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Burbank faced intellectual property challenges in his career, as he created still-heralded peaches, plums, daisies and the world-dominant Burbank russet potato.

Holmes follows Burbank’s lead, offering a few types of seeds to a single, large distributor who can flood the market in the first year, before anyone can take it as their own by cloning the young seedlings.

By the time the copycats have cloned Holmes’ strains, he already has made his money. He also licenses the use of his heirloom seeds, but not the extra-special seeds he doesn’t want copied.

“Really the focus, minus any patent protection, is on licensing and careful selection of distributors,” Holmes said.

State trademark protection can safeguard the name of an innovation within a state’s borders. But protecting intellectual property through state laws is a bandage.

Patents are exclusively federal. Marijuana is illegal under federal law. And federal law trumps state law.

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VIA The Cannabist

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13May/140

Canada’s first pot vending machine starts operation

The first cannabis-dispensing machine in Canada has begun operating in Vancouver, following on from the first machine installed recently in the US state of Colorado. The difference? The Canadian machine doesn’t ID you.

Despite the controversy surrounding the plant and the endless bickering that has marked the discourse around it, the machine looks strangely ordinary and even less threatening than a cigarette pack, with big green leaves and certainly no indication that it contains something that is so hotly debated.

“We put it in the vending machine to cut down on theft and handling,” says Chuck Varabioff, of the BC Pain Society, the dispensary where the machine was installed. “It’s packaged up and sealed professionally. So you come in, you buy your product, it’s fresh, it’s quick and easy, and you’re out of here in minutes.”

The box contains a whole host of strains and flavors that are sure to trigger people’s memories of films containing the plant: “Purple Kush, Bubba Kush,” and a range of sativa and indica strains.

The product is sold in quantities slightly bigger than an eighth of an ounce (3.7 grams) and the machine only accepts cash.

But one key difference really sets the machine apart from the Colorado one: it doesn’t take your ID, purchasing is anonymous. This is evident from the video posted by the dispensary on YouTube. You just pay the money and your choice of candy just falls down into the slot.

One other difference between the American and Canadian realities is statistical: the US has over 2.5 million authorized users, while Canada has only 37,000 – although the health ministry believes the figure will go up tenfold within the next 10 years.

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Via RT

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20Mar/140

Exclusive: Uruguay may import marijuana from Canada

A Canadian flag with a marijuana leaf flies alongside Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada during a pot legalization rally. (Donald Weber/Getty Images)

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — In about a month, Uruguay’s revolutionary new cannabis law will go into effect. In addition to allowing citizens to grow, buy and sell weed, the government will also set forth on its mission to grow its own fields of marijuana, which will then be harvested, taxed and sold in neighborhood pharmacies.

At least, that’s the theory.

But growing weed takes a while. Cultivating fields of it, figuring out how to keep the fields safe from poachers, harvesting vast amounts of cannabis, packaging it, taxing it, distributing it and selling it take even longer.

"I think that we’re going to buy it from Canada, because that’s where the best quality is," Uruguay's first lady Lucia Topolansky tells GlobalPost.

Long story short: Uruguay’s government is not going to be producing much of its own cannabis any time soon. So, where is the official stash going to come from in the meantime?

Maybe Canada.

According to senior-ranking officials in the ruling Broad Front Party, including Sen. Lucia Topolansky, who’s also Uruguay’s first lady, Canadian medical marijuana producers could provide this tiny Latin American nation with a stopgap until it figures out how to grow and harvest its own crop.

“To start with, we will have to buy cannabis,” Topolansky said in an interview last week. “I think that we’re going to buy it from Canada, because that’s where the best quality is.”

To be clear: This is still just an idea. Neither country has announced a deal to ship pot from Vancouver to Montevideo. A spokeswoman for Health Canada wrote by email, “There are currently no plans to encourage the export of cannabis to Uruguay or any other country.”

But could it happen?

Well, it’s complicated. Let’s take a look at four key questions.

1. Does Canada have weed to sell?
In short: Yes, but not a whole lot — yet.

Under Canada’s latest medical marijuana laws, there are about 10 companies currently licensed to grow pot. Marc Wayne, president of Toronto-based Bedrocan Canada Inc., one of the biggest suppliers, said the companies are struggling to meet demand inside Canada.

The Canadian law governing medical marijuana has a provision that allows the government to issue export licenses to growers. However, the authorities will not start issuing export licenses until they're satisfied Canadians have access to all the pot they need.

“There won’t be any export to Uruguay, or anyone else, any time soon,” Wayne said.

2. Is marijuana import and export economically feasible?
In short: Probably not, at least not from Canada to Uruguay.

The Uruguayan government has announced a lofty goal to sell cannabis at $1 a gram. That’s the price point at which it will be competitive against the black market, national drug czar Julio Calzada has said.

On the streets of Montevideo, poor quality pot, most of it from Paraguay or Brazil, currently sells at about $100 for 25 grams, or about $4 a gram, according to research by Insight Crime.

In Canada, weed is much more expensive than that. Currently, a gram of medical pot sells for a minimum of about 7.60 Canadian dollars a gram (about $6.80), said Steve Thomas, general manager of the Whistler Medical Marijuana Co. His company’s cannabis, which is grown organically, sells for about CA$10 a gram (about $8.95).

Once the cost of shipping and jumping through regulatory hurdles is taken into account, it probably wouldn’t make sense to export to a country like Uruguay, where disposable income is low compared with more developed countries, Thomas said.

He said his company is certainly eyeing the export market, but he’s looking at countries with higher incomes, such as the Czech Republic or Israel, as possible targets for growth.

More from GlobalPost: A central bank of weed? As Uruguay nationalizes pot biz, practical questions arise

3. Is shipping marijuana actually legal?

In short: Kinda.

There’s no easy answer to this. Two shipping lawyers GlobalPost contacted both explained that shipping marijuana is illegal under different United Nations conventions on transporting narcotics. But one company, Dutch-owned Bedrocan, is already shipping cannabis as a pharmaceutical.

The Canadian government has given permission to Bedrocan BV in the Netherlands to ship cannabis, via a government agency, to its Canadian counterpart, Bedrocan Canada Inc. The shipments have also been approved by the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in Vienna, said Tjalling Erkelens, the owner of Bedrocan BV. The UN body approves a certain amount of narcotics for each of its member countries to import and produce based on INCB estimates of need. (The INCB didn't immediately respond to a request for comment sent Wednesday.)

Any company in Canada hoping to export cannabis to Uruguay would need permission from both countries’ governments, as well as approval from the INCB for Uruguay to import cannabis, Erkelens said, adding that the INCB has already said it’s not happy with Uruguay’s marijuana “experiment.”

4. How would the pot get to Uruguay, and would the US intervene?

In short: Probably via a small boat, and probably not.

First, logistics: If Canada’s growers were to export weed to Uruguay, they’d likely use converted fishing boats or smaller vessels rather than big container ships, according to Craig H. Allen, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law who specializes in shipping law.

That’s important because a smaller boat would have to stop at least once on the way south to refuel, Allen said. And that means Uruguay and Canada would need the cooperation of a third country, probably a Caribbean island nation, he added.

Landing a vessel full of cannabis at a US port would almost certainly result in seizure of the vessel, said Tina Loverdou, a lecturer in shipping and insurance law at Queen Mary, University of London. That could pose a problem for a boat that hit bad weather or other trouble on the voyage south.

“If the ship was in major danger and needed refuge, the third country might say ‘you can’t enter my territorial waters,’” Loverdou said.

If the shipment was legally sanctioned by both Canada and Uruguay, the legal experts say it would be unlikely for the United States or other countries to intervene if the ship stayed in international waters.

As for quality: Keeping weed fresh over long distances isn’t a problem, said Mark Kleiman, public policy and marijuana expert at the University of California, Los Angeles. Even newly harvested cannabis would stay fresh over a weeklong journey south, he said.

In conclusion:

There’s a legal framework out there to ship cannabis from Canada to Uruguay.

Theoretically, licensed Canadian pot producers could get to the point where they have enough excess weed to sell it south. But the economics would probably get in the way, with companies having to jump through legal hoops, only to export a product to a country at far higher prices than the weed already available there.

Kleiman, the UCLA professor, said it’s much more likely that Uruguay ramps up its own production long before the international pot trade grows into a viable model.

“The Ministry of Agriculture just needs to put up a greenhouse today,” he said. “Marijuana is a cheap and easy crop to produce.”

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Via The Global Post

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29Oct/130

WATCH LIVE TODAY: The Free Marc Emery Parliament Hill Takeover

POT TV - Tune in LIVE TODAY for the Free Marc Emery Parliament Hill Takeover - starting at 9:30AM ET in Ottawa - where Jodie Emery and opposition MPs will ask the Conservative government of Canada to allow Marc to transfer home.

NDP Deputy Leader Libby Davies, Liberal Public Safety Critic Wayne Easter and Green MP Elizabeth May will join with Jodie Emery TODAY (Tuesday, October 29 at 10:30AM) at 130 S Centre Block - Charles Lynch Room - to publicly ask the government for Marc Emery's return to Canada.

WATCH LIVE starting at 9:30 AM ET

PHONE BLITZ: Help imprisoned marijuana activist Marc Emery by calling the Canadian Public Safety Minister's office all day Tuesday, October 29, and politely asking the government to approve Marc's prison transfer back home to Canada.

PHONE NUMBERS TO CALL:
613-944-4875 or 1-800-830-3118 (Public Safety Ministry office)
613-992-7434 (Parliament Hill office)
418-830-0500 (Constituency Office #1)
418-625-2626 (Constituency Office #2)

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Via http://www.pot.tv/

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5Oct/130

Ten New Rules for Medical Marijuana in Canada

by Ben Livingston
Canada is implementing sweeping changes to its medical marijuana program to facilitate greater access to medical pot. The country currently has over 37,000 registered medical cannabis patients, and the new rules are expected to increase that number. Here are ten things to know about the rules:

1. No more patient registry. Before the changes, patients had to obtain a medical cannabis authorization then register with Health Canada in order to legally obtain medical cannabis. Now, the Canadian government is removing itself from the equation, and medical cannabis will be between a doctor and a patient—and a pot grower, of course.

2. Sourcing options: Growers, dealers, health care practioners. Patients may obtain medical cannabis direct from the producer or from a dispensary—called a dealer in the rules—or from their health care practitioner or hospital. Anyone may possess medical cannabis that they are helping administer to an authorized patient.

3. Patients must choose one producer. Patients may have more producer options, but they can only choose one of those options at any time. Those wishing to switch between ganja growers will need to obtain a new authorization from their health care practitioner.

4. Posession limits. Health care practitioners will determine the daily dose of cannabis required by individual users. Patients may possess up to thirty times that amount, with a maximum possession amount of 150 grams, over 5 ounces. Individual containers of cannabis may not exceed 30 grams.

5. No additives or measured doses. Cannabis may not be sold with any additives—anything that isn’t dried marijuana or approved pesticide residude. It also can’t be sold in pill form or any measured dose.

6. No more home grow. Medical cannabis production facilities will no longer be allowed in residential homes. Producers will be required to have air filters, surveillance cameras, alarm systems, 24-hour security, and a host of sanitary practices to ensure their medicine is clean.

7. Import and export allowed. Perhaps surprising, the rules envision the import and export of cannabis with appropriate permits. Don’t expect these to be granted often. The rules also include provisions to comply with Canada’s international obligations under the UN Single Convention Treaty on Narcotics.

8. Outdoor cannabis prohibited. Only indoor marijuana production will be allowed.

9. Pesticides must be approved, pot must be tested. The only bug sprays growers may apply to their plants must be approved by the government for use on cannabis. Producers must have their cannabis tested, must include the THC/CBD ratios on the label, and must report any adverse reactions to their products.

10. Mail order is okay. Medical cannabis producers may sell and ship pot to dealers, to other producers, or directly to patients. No longer must one fly the prop plane out of the frigid Yukon to score legal weed.

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Via http://blog.sfgate.com/

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17Jul/130

US Approves Marc Emery’s Transfer Home to Canada

By Jeremiah Vandermeer

The US government has approved a prisoner transfer application for Marc Emery, the Canadian marijuana activist serving a five year sentence in the US for selling marijuana seeds to fund pot legalization activism.

The transfer must also be approved by Canadian authorities before Emery would be eligible to return to Canada.

Emery's legal council has confirmed to his wife Jodie that US authorities have approved his transfer home.

"It's great news that the US Department of Justice has approved Marc's transfer home," Jodie Emery told Cannabis Culture. "I hope the Canadian Conservative government quickly approves the paperwork on their end so it becomes official and Marc can come home to Canada."

Canadian authorities have, so far, made no comment.

Watch Cannabis Culture for more breaking information about Marc's possible transfer home.

Find out more about Marc Emery, including why the DEA targeted him for his political activism, at FreeMarc.ca

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Via www.cannabisculture.com

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31May/111

Another way to talk to God….?

Marijuana-smoking minister jailed 3 months

2.5 months.....why even bother? seems like a big waste of resources......-UA

May 30 2011 peter small thestar.com

A man who promotes marijuana as a church sacrament and sold the drug to undercover officers has been jailed for three months.

Shahrooz Kharaghani, 32, was previously found guilty of trafficking and possessing cannabis for the purpose of trafficking in a Queen St. E. neighbourhood.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Thea Herman said Monday she accepts that Kharaghani, who sold pot from the group’s Beach-area storefront church, was not motivated by profit and believes pot-smoking is beneficial.

“There were likely people who lived in the vicinity who do not share this view,” Herman said.

Kharaghani will serve 2 ½ months, after credit is given for pretrial custody.

Crown prosecutor Nick Devlin had originally recommended a six-month community sentence, likely to involve one or two months of house arrest, a curfew afterward and some form of community service.

But Kharaghani’s lawyer, George Filipovic, told his sentencing hearing earlier this month that given house arrest, his client would immediately smoke pot to commune with God, which would mean violating a condition to “keep the peace and be of good behaviour.”

The breach would land Kharaghani in jail, so he might as well go to jail straightaway, Filipovic argued.

Kharaghani and co-accused Peter Styrsky, 53, are ministers in the Assembly of the Church of the Universe, which has an estimated 4,000 congregants across Canada.

They smoke dope as a spiritual practice and wear cotton and hemp beanies as religious headgear.

Both Kharaghani and Styrsky have been convicted in a case that dates to 2006.

Styrsky has been sentenced to a six-month jail term, but was immediately released because of credits for pre-trial custody.

At their trial the two men lost their constitutional challenge, on religious grounds, of Canada’s pot laws.

Herman ruled that group members were earnest in their beliefs and agreed that their religious rights were being limited.

But the judge dismissed their challenge because she did not think it was possible to create a workable religious exemption to Canada’s pot-smoking and selling prohibitions.

But both men are going to appeal Herman’s constitutional ruling, Filipovic told reporters outside court.

Filipovic said his client is doomed to a life in and out of jail because he will never give up smoking pot.

Devlin, who prosecuted the case with Donna Polgar, told reporters that selling pot is a crime, and the court found that there are no religious exemptions.

“Members of the community can be satisfied that the courts won’t permit people to set up residential drug conveniences stores in their neighbourhoods whether under the guise of a religion or otherwise,” Devlin said.

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16Apr/111

Cannabis Legal in Canada for the Next three Months???

An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled that the federal medical marijuana program is unconstitutional, giving the government three months to fix the problem before pot is effectively legalized.

In an April 11 ruling, Justice Donald Taliano found that doctors across the country have “massively boycotted” the medical marijuana program and largely refuse to sign off on forms giving sick people access to necessary medication.

As a result, legitimately sick people cannot access medical marijuana through appropriate means and must resort to illegal actions.

Doctors’ “overwhelming refusal to participate in the medicinal marijuana program completely undermines the effectiveness of the program,” the judge wrote in his ruling.

“The effect of this blind delegation is that seriously ill people who need marijuana to treat their symptoms are branded criminals simply because they are unable to overcome the barriers to legal access put in place by the legislative scheme.”

Taliano declared the program to be invalid, as well as the criminal laws prohibiting possession and production of cannabis. He suspended his ruling for three months, giving Ottawa until mid-July to fix the program or face the prospect of effectively legalizing possession and production of cannabis.

The judge’s decision comes in a criminal case involving Matthew Mernagh, 37, of St. Catharines who suffers from fibromyalgia, scoliosis, seizures and depression.

Marijuana is the most effective treatment of Mernagh’s pain. But despite years of effort, he has been unable to find a doctor to support his application for a medical marijuana licence.

Mernagh resorted to growing his own cannabis and was charged with producing the drug.

Taliano found doctors essentially act as gatekeepers to the medical marijuana program but lack the necessary knowledge to adequately give advice or recommend the drug. He also found that Health Canada has made “no real attempt to deal with this lack of knowledge.”

Taliano said the issue is Canada-wide.

Twenty-one patients from across the country testified in the case, saying they were rejected by doctors a total of 113 times.

One Alberta patient was refused by 26 doctors; another in Vancouver approached 37 physicians without finding a single one to sign off on the form.

Patients also face lengthy delays — as long as nine months — in having their medical marijuana applications processed by Health Canada.

“The body of evidence from Mr. Mernagh and the other patient witnesses is troubling,” Taliano wrote. “The evidence of the patient witnesses, which I accept, showed that patients have to go to extraordinary lengths to acquire the marijuana they need.”

Lawyer Alan Young, a longtime advocate of marijuana legalization, said the ruling is a step in the right direction.

“It’s significant because it’s a Superior Court ruling which has binding effect across the province,” Young said.

“By enacting a dysfunctional medical program the government now has to pay the high cost of losing the constitutional authority to criminalize marijuana.”

He said the real test, however, will be whether the judgment stands up in the Ontario Court of Appeal.

“If the government is not successful on appeal, they are going to be caught between a rock and a hard place because they don’t have an alternative program in mind,” he said. “They don’t have a plan B. They’re in trouble.”

The medical profession has been wary of the medical marijuana program since it came into effect in August 2001.

On May 7, 2001, the Canadian Medical Association wrote a letter to the federal health minister expressing concerns with recommending a drug that has had little scientific evidence to support its medicinal benefits.

“Physicians must not be expected to act as gatekeepers to this therapy, yet this is precisely the role Health Canada had thrust upon them,” the letter stated.

- Seems like there is gonna be quite a bit of american tourist dollars pointing north in the next three months, and possibly indefinately if canada decriminalizes it as a whole.  

T$M

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