Friday, July 10, 2015

Smith, Section 56, and the Importance of Words


Also Available at Cannabis in

“Marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada and has not gone through the necessary rigorous scientific trials for efficacy or safety.”

Where did this idea come from that for the word “medicine”, to be universally understood by all Canadians, requires the federal government? When did the government start deciding the definition of words? Talk about a gross exertion of power.

The government says the courts don't have the authority to define medicine, only Health Canada does. But on what basis? What makes Health Canada more objective than the judges who sifted through the various facts and opinions of experts, and in their capacity as arbitrating professionals decided that, indeed, patients who have medical approval from their doctor can use cannabis in all of its different forms? It's a medicine not because a judge ruled on it, but because doctors and patients have already gone through their subjective approval process. The only reason the Supreme Court got involved was because the federal government continues to categorize cannabis as a dangerous narcotic and to criminalize its production, sale, and consumption outside its regulatory management.

To this end, Health Canada has implemented some strict controls over the production and sale of cannabis for medical purposes. The Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) sets out requirements with which licensed producers must comply, including arbitrary quality controls, record keeping of all action and inventory, and security measures that resemble a nuclear facility. The LPs are also subject to rigorous oversight that is designed to “reduce public health, safety, and security risks” but only drive up costs while BC farmers, dispensaries, and compassion club owners openly compete in a less regulated market without any of these public health, safety and security risks manifesting. While the MMPR requires LP “directors and officers” to undergo severe security clearance, there is no federal bureaucracy in charge of the other market. No one in Ottawa is dictating how or what BC farmers should grow, what their security and employment structure should look like, or how their distribution and sales model will work. There are no “directors and officers” in the freer and fair market, there are only entrepreneurs and voluntary exchanges.

When the Supreme Court of Canada decided R. v. Smith, individuals who had been medically approved for cannabis became legally capable of possessing cannabis derivatives. It was a “free for all”, so Health Canada issued a Section 56, which essentially allowed Health Minister Rona Ambrose to bend the rules as she saw fit:

56. The Minister may, on such terms and conditions as the Minister deems necessary, exempt any person or class of persons or any controlled substance or precursor or any class thereof from the application of all or any of the provisions of this Act or the regulations if, in the opinion of the Minister, the exemption is necessary for a medical or scientific purpose or is otherwise in the public interest.

Virtually anything can be “otherwise in the public interest.” If it weren't for Smith, Rona would have never provoked this outrageous issue. Therefore in order to correct it, she used Section 56 to effectively violate the Supreme Court decision. Patients and growers protected under the Allard injunction are not allowed to use organic solvents on their cannabis (rule number 3 under Terms and Conditions). LPs, on the other hand, don't have any restrictions of this kind.
Nevertheless, LPs are “prohibited from making therapeutic claims,” on their extracts, and,“licensed producers must continue to comply with the maintenance of records for all transactions including fresh marijuana buds and leaves and cannabis oil, which will allow for traceability of marijuana from cultivation to product, including sales and destruction records.”

The licensed producers are not a “free market” they are a crony-capitalist cartel. But at some point the level of regulatory rules and edicts will be so numerous, an LP will be indistinguishable from your average, everyday government bureaucracy. Like the post office. The LPs already use them for distribution, why not combine management?

Health Canada made it clear in their statement that they do not “license organizations such as 'compassion clubs' or 'dispensaries'” but nobody is asking them to. The federal government touted the MMPR as a free market, but actively works to destroy and undermine the freer and fairer market. Just like their restriction on the definition of “medicine” as a Health Canada-approved pharmaceutical, their definition of a “free market” is a crony-capitalist cartel. But perhaps the biggest insult is their obnoxious interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling on Smith to mean extracts for some, but not for others. Not surprisingly, the LPs get the nods of approval while MMAR patients are left with their “dried marihuana”.

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