On June 11, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled to uphold the BC Court of Appeal’s judgement in favour of Owen Smith: the right of Canadians to ingest medical marijuana includes the right to access cannabis derivatives. Medical marijuana patients are no longer limited to inhaling ‘dried marihuana’.
Health Minister Rona Ambrose responded with a public statement in which she indicated that the SCC judges suddenly acted like medical professionals without any education or scientific research — at least none sponsored and approved by Health Canada — and they have jeopardized the health and safety of children, teens, and adults. She also stated that there is scientific research that proves cannabis is seriously harmful to people if it’s abused, though neglected to prove that medical marijuana is abused.
Minister Ambrose doesn’t understand the difference between medicinal and recreational use.
She is ‘outraged’ because she is losing a fight she has no good reason for fighting. Health Canada has never had anything to do with researching cannabis as medicine and has no intention of proving whether consuming cannabis is or isn’t safe. Despite the legal rights of Canadians, Health Canada does nothing to support the court-ordered medical marijuana program: the Medical Marijuana Access Regulations only began because of a SCC ruling in 2000.
Health Canada states on their website, in bold print, that they do not recognize or approve marijuana as any type of medicine. But we as Canadians have the right to treat our medical needs as long as we are not deliberately trying to harm ourselves or others in the process. So, what’s the fuss about if Health Canada doesn’t want to be involved in medical research? When did the translation of Charter rights become so blurred? Patients continue to experience shame and judgement from others for medicating safely with a plant that has been growing wild for centuries. Why can’t we get any support for research from the federal government?
The Government of Canada still maintains that marijuana is a dangerous ‘gateway drug’. It is all too convenient, and extremely predictable of the Conservatives, to dwell in the comfort zone of old prohibitionist talking points and scare tactics. Rona Ambrose is promising Canadians that ‘pot culture’ will not be normalized in Canada through medical use, and she promises to fight against the freedom to use cannabis among Canadians, sick or not.
Cannabis itself has never been a substantiated cause of death, and although people die while also consuming marijuana, far more deaths are caused directly from non-medical but legal consumption of either alcohol or tobacco. So why do prohibitionists treat cannabis as the ‘be all, end all’ problem drug whenever legalization is mentioned in Canada?
Well that has an easy answer: money. Prime Minister Harper’s Conservatives have a vast and complex network of international corporations filling their coffers. Accepting cultivation of marijuana as medicine would end the mainstream monopoly of the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, decriminalizing marijuana reduces human fodder for private prisons — a lucrative business in the USA that Harper wants to establish in Canada. And admitting to rich, older Canadians that anti-pot propaganda is baseless isn’t a good strategy for raising funds, or votes, for the next election.
The militant mindset of our Conservative government has fallen like acid rain from the federal down to the municipal level. Pamela McColl, a children’s advocate and anti-smoking-turned-anti-cannabis activist on the board of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada, torpedoed her way through the media during the Vancouver city council meetings for new dispensary regulations in recent weeks. Although illegal on a federal scale, cannabis dispensaries continue to open in Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada because medical marijuana works. SAMC claims to be ‘third-wave’ because it doesn’t want people to be jailed for consuming pot but still uses the Conservatives’ irrelevant, illogical, statistically dubious arguments.
What has me frustrated is how easily this woman is getting mainstream press. Especially when regulating medical marijuana has nothing to do with her directly nor with protecting children — youths aren’t purchasing from dispensaries. So, in the heat of a recent moment I was motivated to message her on Facebook:
So, with this Supreme Court of Canada win in the Owen Smith case and marijuana extractions being permitted, and now passing of new regulations for dispensaries, what does this mean for Canada? This means Canada is ready for a future where cannabis is very much present, more than it ever has been. Legalization is coming — these are moves paving the way — and there isn’t anything prohibitionists like Prime Minister Harper, Minister Ambrose, and Pamela McColl can do about it. Never let anyone defy your educated beliefs, especially your government.
We have rights and freedoms to look forward to as a cannabis community in Canada. We are ever growing and already sharing what we know with one another. So, as I see it, we’ve already won.