This article is part of the Arthritis Archives.
Dateline: July 10, 2003
Canada Will Sell Marijuana for Medical Use
It's been a long-running debate - whether to approve marijuana posession for medicinal purposes. In the United States, marijuana possession is illegal under federal law. Individual state laws in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington permit growing and distribution of marijuana to persons who have a doctor's order. But not so clear-cut as it sounds, since the Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that people charged with violating federal drug laws cannot use medical necessity as a defense.
Canada Adopts Interim Policy
Canada's government announced on July 9, 2003 that it will sell marijuana and seeds to medically eligible people and their suppliers. This announcement is considered an "interim measure" which satisfies a previous Ontario court order. The federal government is appealing the ruling.
Under the new plan announced by Health Minister Anne McLellan:
- Eligible patients can buy just over an ounce of dried marijuana for $112 about once a month.
- Authorized growers can buy packs of 30 seeds once a year for $15.
A spokesman from Health Canada reported that the THC content of the government-grown marijuana is 10%, compared to between 3% and 18% found in most street marijuana. THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.
The Ontario court ruling from January 2003, which lead to this interim plan in Canada, encouraged easier access to medicinal marijuana, and fretted over seriously ill people having to deal with the criminal world to get the medical relief they needed.
A little history:
- In 1997 - Terrance Parker challenged the prohibition of marijuana on the basis he needed it for medical purposes.
- In 2000 - On July 31, the Court of Appeal for Ontario decided the prohibition of the possession of marijuana to be unconstitutional. They suspended the declaration of invalidity for one year to allow the Government of Canada time to respond.
- In 2000 - Canada began planning for medicinal marijuana by growing a supply in an abandoned mine shaft in Manitoba.
- In 2001 - On July 30th, new regulations (MMAR - Marijuana Medical Access Regulations) enacted by the Government of Canada, allowed more Canadians to be eligible for medicinal marijuana and allowed people to either grow their own or designate a supplier to grow it for them. It also allowed for distribution of government-grown marijuana.
- In 2003 - On January 9th, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice upheld the constitutionality of the MMAR for the issuance of authorizations to possess marijuana for medical purposes. However, it declared it unconstitutional and invalid on grounds they didn't resolve issues related to source and supply of marijuana for medical purposes. This is a result of eleven individuals who challenged the constitutionality of the process by which authorizations to possess marijuana are issued and a lack of availability of safe, licit, and continuous supply of marijuana under the MMAR.
Medically Eligible Patients
Medically eligible patients include those suffering with:
- severe arthritis
- multiple sclerosis
More Information - Medical Marijuana In Canada
Health Canada grants access to marihuana for medical use to those who are suffering from grave and debilitating illnesses. It is important to note that the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations deal exclusively with the medical use of marihuana. They do not address the issue of legalizing marihuana for general consumption.
- Medical Marijuana / Medicinal Marijuana
- Pain Medications
- Preventing Abuse of Prescription Drugs and Pain Medications
- Pain Relief Information
<http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/2003/2003_54_e.html> Government of Canada adopts interim policy on the provision of marihuana for medical purposes, Health Canada News Release 2003-54, July 9, 2003
<http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/2003/2003_54bk1_e.html>, Marihuana for Medical Purposes, Health Canada, July 2003
First published: 07/10/2003