Halifax: Maritimers fight for Medical Marijuana access

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(WireService.ca) -- Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana Society and cannabis advocates will gather at Victoria Park, Halifax on Saturday 5 May 2012 from 1:00 – 4:30 PM in opposition to the federal government’s mishandling of the medical cannabis program.

May 5th marks the 7th year that MUMM has joined cities world wide to seek an end to cannabis prohibition as we participate in the annual Global Marijuana March.

Since its inception in 2001, the Medical Marihuana Access Regulations have proven to be unconstitutional in several courts, resulting in Health Canada being given many court orders to redraft the MMAR in order to adequately address the programs shortcomings.

“If Health Canada had invested in meaningful consultation with the actual stakeholders in this process – the patients and our physicians – rather than trying to maintain prohibition, chronically ill Canadians would no longer fear prosecution and incarceration,” said Debbie Stultz-Giffin, MUMM chair.

On May 7th and 8th the Ontario Court of Appeal will hear the federal government’s arguments as they endeavour to have the R. v. Mernagh decision overturned. Matthew Mernagh, from St. Catharines, Ont., was unable to find a doctor to approve his use of cannabis to treat the symptoms of several illnesses. He was subsequently charged with cultivating cannabis.

With less than 1% of doctors signing applications the program, it was successfully argued that the MMAR is virtually inaccessible. Essentially Justice Donald Taliano, in the Ontario Superior Court, felt that the MMAR is an illusion designed to uphold Canadian cannabis laws. Twenty two Canadians testified from PEI to British Columbia about their quest to obtain legal protection to possess and/or cultivate medical cannabis.

On April 12, 2011 Justice Donald Taliano’s ruling gave the government 90 days to improve access to medical cannabis for ill Canadians or it would become legal to use or grow cannabis for any purpose.

He concluded the regulations don’t sufficiently ensure that patients can obtain the necessary approval to use cannabis as medicine. Simultaneously, he ruled two sections of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act – those that prohibit simple possession and cultivating marijuana – are unconstitutional, since they can be used to criminally charge medicinal users who haven’t been able to obtain such approval.

“Although this is the Ontario Court of Appeal, decisions in Ontario, especially one impacting a federal program will have huge national ramifications,” said Stultz-Giffin.

“A Canadian Medical Association Journal editorial from May 2001 revealed that at that time 400,000 Canadians required medical cannabis. A positive decision would finally ensure that all patients will have unencumbered access to the medicine that provides them with quality of life and symptom management, not just the meagre 12, 000 patients who have been able to clear Health Canada’s bureaucratic barriers.”

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