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Canadians for Safe Access Denounces Police Raids of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

June 7, 2010 - Medical cannabis dispensaries, also know as compassion clubs, have played a vital role supplying safe access to cannabis for the critically and chronically ill in Canada for over 12 years. These organizations provide access to a variety of high quality cannabis strains and preparations that can effectively alleviate pain, muscle spasms, nausea, anxiety, and other serious symptoms. Compassion clubs are also at the forefront of academic peer-reviewed research on medical cannabis in Canada.

The services provided by compassion clubs have been appreciated by their patients, accepted by their communities and municipalities, lauded by a Special Senate committee, and upheld in various court rooms across the country.

In 2000, the highest court in Ontario ruled that those in medical need must be able to access cannabis without risking their liberty. The court decision called into question the constitutionality of the overall cannabis prohibition, and the government responded by creating a national medical cannabis program. The national program provides licenses for legal possession and production of cannabis, and provides medicine directly to those in need.

However, the government program has not been able to fulfill the needs of Canadians and aspects of it have been found unconstitutional in several courts. To date, the government has not complied with the court-ordered remedies. Problems with the programme include a poor quality supply of cannabis, and lack of physician participation and patient confidence in the programme. Currently the program only serves about 4,000 patients.

In the meantime, compassion clubs have been providing cannabis to over 15,000 people with documented medical need. Courts across Canada have ruled in favour of these operations, recognizing that they are fulfilling a vital service that Health Canada has not been able to fulfill.

The recent police raids in Toronto, Guelph, Iqaluit, and most recently Montreal and Quebec City appear to be an orchestrated attempt by police to shut these organizations down. The result is that thousands of Canadians suffering from MS, Cancer, HIV/AIDS, arthritis and other critical and chronic illnesses have lost an important source of their medicine.

Canadians for Safe Access denounces these raids. Rather than leave these organizations vulnerable to police raids, CSA is calling on Health Canada to work with these organizations to ensure they are legally protected to provide their services to those in need and continue to contribute to research on this important medicine. "Based on their actions and statements, the police appear to be trying to protect the government's monopoly on selling medical cannabis," notes Rielle Capler, a researcher and director of Canadians for Safe Access. "Our government should be supporting patients to access the best possible medicine, not using scarce resources to fight over turf."

With the mandatory minimum bill, S-10, currently in the Senate, CSA would also like to draw attention to how this bill could negatively affect medical cannabis patients. "We are asking the Conservative government and opposition parties, in the Senate and the House Commons, to demonstrate their commitment to Canada's medical cannabis patients by ensuring that any new legislation will protect their needs", stated Philippe Lucas, a city counselor in Victoria, BC and also a director of Canadians for Safe Access.



Rielle Capler - 604-818-4082 -
Philippe Lucas - 250-884-9821 -

Source: Stop the Drug War (DRCNet)


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