It's become mandatory for pundits, when writing about the federal
government's pot policy, to make the once-humourous but now cliched "What
have the Liberals been smoking?" joke.

But it's understandable. The latest head-scratcher is Health Canada's
forthcoming user's manual on medical marijuana that reportedly instructs
those who have access to the prescription pot not to smoke it!
"Administration by smoking is not recommended," says the 59-page document.

And a Health Canada official said, "We're not recommending, in fact, that
marijuana be used."

This follows on the heels of several other strange and bizarre undertakings
by the Liberals on the pot file. A couple of months ago the Liberals
unveiled a supposed decriminalization of marijuana that will still punish
people for possessing up to 15 grams of pot, but will spare them a criminal
record. The Grits' proposed crackdown on growers, however, will likely
result in the black-market pot producers making even more money.

What was ironic about that was that the push for legalized pot originated
from chronically ill folks who wanted access to medicinal pot but didn't
want to risk a criminal record. However, there was nothing in May's proposed
pot-law changes (that still have to actually be passed into law) that
addressed the medical marijuana issue per se. The Grits tried to alleviate
that problem earlier this month by announcing that the government was in the
marijuana business, and would sell bags of pot and seeds to sick patients
who qualify under Ottawa's medical marijuana program. The ink was barely dry
on the press release when the Canadian Medical Association urged its doctors
not to become drug dealers for the feds. The CMA said it didn't support
Ottawa's medical pot program for many reasons, including the lack of
evidence of its efficacy.

The feds might have been able to perhaps produce their own study on the
usefulness of medical pot, but it's since been reported that Health Minister
Anne McLellan shut down a $2-million study on medicinal pot that included
clinical trials.

Following this? The Grits propose to decriminalize pot possession, but add
more penalties to growing. Then Ottawa grows its own and propose selling it
to sick patients, who likely won't be able to get it from their doctors and,
even if they do, are being instructed by the same government that gave them
the pot not to use it!

All that said, we're actually cutting the Liberals a bit of slack on this
front, because the Grits are merely reacting to judicial rulings demanding
changes in the pot laws.

So it's no surprise that the Liberals have come up with a confusing and
contradictory cannabis policy when the direction is being set by the courts.

Pubdate: Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)