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Is Health Canada Getting Out of the Medical Marijuana Business?

CANNABIS CULTURE – An official at Health Canada says the agency is planning on getting out of the medical marijuana business complete. Health Canada’s Director of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Jeannine Ritchot testified to a judge in an ongoing medical marijuana case that the current licencing program would be replaced with a new system that includes licencing larger-scale commercial growers.

health canada medical marijuana pot program“Health Canada would be completely out of the picture and patients would no longer apply to Health Canada for licences,” said Paul Lewin, lawyer for Matt Mernagh, the medical marijuana user at the centre of the case. “Instead, the patients would get something from their doctor – we’re not sure exactly what yet – and they would take that to larger-scale commercial growers, who would still be licensed.”

Lewin was questioning Ritchot under cross-examination as part of the ongoing case proceedings when she divulged the new information.

“We weren’t expecting anything like this,” Lewin said. “We figured they would just give us as little information as possible.”

On April 11, 2011 in the case of R. v. Mernagh, an Ontario Superior Court judge struck down Canada’s laws prohibiting the possession and production of marijuana, giving the Canadian federal government 90 days to fix the country’s medical marijuana program before the ruling comes into effect and effectively legalizes cannabis in Ontario.

Justice Donald Taliano found that Canada’s Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) and “the prohibitions against the possession and production of cannabis (marihuana) contained in sections 4 and 7 respectively of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act” are “constitutionally invalid and of no force and effect”.

Mernagh, the long-time medical marijuana user at the heart of the case, suffers from fibromyalgia, scoliosis, and seizures but was unable to find a doctor willing to sign the required paperwork allowing him to become a legal marijuana user. He was subsequently raided and arrested for growing his own plants without a licence.

By Jeremiah Vandermeer
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