The federal Ministry of Health's new legislation on the medical use of
marijuana is an interesting study in contradictions.

On one hand, it supposedly makes it easier for Canadians suffering from
chronic pain or debilitating illness to gain access to a drug that can
potentially improve their quality of life. On the other, however, it fails
to set out any guidelines as to where the average patient - who in all
likelihood has no concept of how to grow B.C.'s most controversial export
crop - can get a clean, consistent supply of the medication.

Nor does it necessarily make it easier to legally possess the wacky weed.
Consider the process:

First, an applicant must supply their full name, date of birth and gender,
as well as a complete address, along with an indication of whether the
applicant intends to grow their own or buy from a licensed dealer.

Next, the applicant has to obtain a medical declaration, which includes the
doctor's full name, address and telephone number. The medical declaration
has to outline the applicant's medical condition, what category the
condition falls under, the dosage of marijuana (in grams) recommended and
how it is to be "administered". Further, it has to assure all other drugs
have been tried or considered.

You follow that up with photo ID with picture restrictions reminiscent of
passport photos (at least 43x54 mm but not more than 50x70 mm and shot
against a plain contrasting background. It then has to be certified by the
medical practitioner treating the applicant as an accurate representation of
the patient.

There's also a little math that needs to be done to determine the monthly
allotment of marijuana any patient can have at any given time. And oh, by
the way, if your application is approved, your licence expires in a year and
you have to provide a majority of the information again. It would be easier
to get a rolling prescription for morphine. Small wonder people like Mark
Russell are starting buyers' clubs.

The jury is out on the medical benefits of marijuana. Formal scientific
studies seem to be few and far between, and those that are out there provide
results the government says are generally inconclusive. Anecdotal support is
strong and easy to come by, but the scientific community is loath to accept
what it views as non-empirical data.

The government holds that lack of scientific data out as the reason the new
legislation is so restrictive. They need time to study marijuana and its
medicinal effects further, they say; to gather further input from the
medical community. But the lack on conclusive evidence hasn't stopped
doctors from talking about the positive health effects of a glass of red
wine.

The truth is likely less about science and more about politics. Marijuana
and the war on drugs are political hot potatoes. No one wants to make a firm
decision. But that's what government is supposed to do. Not in this case.
Government, instead of discussions of health, has opted for political
policies.


Newshawk: Herb
Pubdate: July 20, 2001
Source: Parksville Qualicum Beach News (CN BC)
Box 1180, #4-154 Middleton Avenue, Parksville, B.C., V9P 2H2
Copyright: 2001 Parksville Qualicum Beach News
Contact: pqbnews@island.net
Website: http://www.pqbnews.com/
Author: Tom MacDougall