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Letter To Health Canada

By Hempology | June 2, 2006

June 2, 2006

The Honourable Tony Clement
Minister's Office - Health Canada
Brooke Claxton Building, Tunney's Pasture
Postal Locator: 0906C
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0K9 e-mail
I am writing to day to address a new issue I am currently facing with regard to the MMAD (Medical Marijuana Access Division) of Health Canada and the MMAR Medical (Marijuana Access Regulations) that govern it. Moreover, as a legally exempted person and registered member of the MMAD of Health Canada since 2003, I have become one of many ill Canadians who feel under represented and protected in a cumbersome manner with regard to my constitutional rights under s.7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which states “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice?. s.15 (1), (2) states (1) “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability?. (2) Subsection (1) “does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability?. In the following letter I intend to address my concern with regard the MMAR.

In a recent and troublesome situation what started as a typical address change for my production licence from one location to another. I removed my licence from a previous address to my current address I wish to use for production. The MMAD program received the paper work two months ago. Since this time I have had to destroy my genetics, as the previous address was no longer legal as stated to me by Peggy at Health Canada. This was not the first time I have heard of this type of situation so I accepted destroying my genetics which was personally distressing for the strain I had worked for my medical needs and took me time and money to obtain the seeds to grow my medication in the first place.

I am a sitting member of the national steering committee on Cannabis as a Therapy for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS an 18-month project rapping up at the end of this summer. This committee was put together and facilitated by the Canadian AIDS Society. In this time as a B.C. represententive I have heard horror stories of lost paper work, missing faxes and timely delays in receiving new licences as well as renewals, in my personal experience and gathered knowledge I have come to see that Health Canada apparently stalls down renewals and address changes for cultivators. The most serious case has happened in Alberta recently with the Tom Shapiro’s case in which a standard renewal got a terminally ill Canadians medication, and equipment seized, and faces charges for cultivating marijuana under s.56 of the Drug and Substances Act of Canada the very section Mr. Shapiro was exempted from for years prior. To the best of my understanding from communications via e-mail and media outlets Mr. Shapiro’s paper work did not add up for there were two different doctors as his prior one retired. Furthermore, Mr. Shapiro’s paper work was in on time for renewal and police knew he had been growing there legally for some time. The timely delay in the renewal for his licence has now unjustly and horrifically uprooted this ill Canadian’s life. A similar but not as serious situation has happened to me before and is currently once again an issue. So such that it has come to the point I felt no alternative but to write you sir to address these troublesome and distressing concerns.
Sir I was diagnosed with HIV/HCV in 1994, since that time I have used cannabis as I was diagnosed with a CD4 count of 200 and needed to start (ARV) Antiretroviral Treatment immediately. This is when I began to use cannabis to assist with appetite stimulation, to counter nausea, reduce pain, and lighten the stress of an already high stress situation. I became licensed to cultivate and posses cannabis in 2005 through the MMAD. Yesterday I put in the 9th phone call to the MMAD program regarding where my licence is? I was told by Peggy over 2 weeks ago it was finalized and would be here in the mail. This after an already lengthily delay. Where am I going with this is that it has been 2 months since the paper work was sent in and received by the MMAD of Health Canada. As a terminally ill person taking (ARV) treatment to sustain the HIV/AIDS virus that plagues my body. Furthermore I have to give myself weekly injections of Nandrolome and Testosterone to combat Wasting Syndrome associated with AIDS. The injections and the rapid growth of muscle and strengthening of tendons are extremely painful. With all these medications I combat the side effects with my cannabis.

Today I had no alternative but to order a supply from (PPS) Prairie Plant Systems since I have run out of personal supply and funds are tight. Furthermore it will take three months or more for me to obtain new genetics and produce more of my own medication once my licence arrives. When I phoned Health Canada I was shocked to find out that I cannot purchase cannabis from PPS as long as I have a production licence I reintegrated that I do not hold a cultivation card for it has not arrived thus I cannot put any seeds under my lights. Frustrated by this information I explained the situation further in that I would be going without cannabis for the next three months. When we talk of fair access to treatment and equality is do not see this for when a cultivator gets a new licence PPS allows a producer to order a one time supply to carry them through till the can grow the first crop. This is fair for consideration was given that the cultivator would not have a supply for several months. Given the back log situation at the MMAD program, the paperwork problems, timely delay’s and the reluctance to get my licence out to me through their so called fast track system has left me in a situation of purchasing my cannabis at $10 a gram from my local compassion club. Moreover I see no difference in first getting my licence and the change of address either way when you change your production site even if one is a professional grower they cannot speed up the rate at which the plant grows over and above the 3 month range. I would further this to look at issues such as what if a fire or theft takes place and a cultivator such as myself has my personal medication and cultivation equipment either destroyed or stolen. I could not obtain cannabis from PPS regardless of the situation.

This is no different than the cumbersome policy that nobody under any circumstance can tend to plants without breaking the law. This for me is highly distressing for I have HIV/AIDS and one day will get critically sick once again. Going from A-symptomatic to symptomatic and back again which happens many times over many years while fighting this illness for persons like me who have been terminally ill for some time. This to me does not equate to fair access rather a brick barrier. Certainly in my opinion this is not equality for I have no direct link in case of emergency to a legal source of cannabis. I only found out about the seriousness of this issue recently for it is happening to me. I had mentioned I have a compassion club to attend and am thankful to live in a city where one exists. For many this option is not on the table for they live in other provinces or rural areas. Furthermore, as I mentioned I pay $10 a gram to buy it, I hold a 10-gram a day licence. I cannot afford $100 a day for cannabis on CPP disability, not even $75 a week for that matter. While cultivating my own I paid considerably less to cultivate it. If I could order from PPS I would be paying $150 a ounce. This is more affordable than the $280 and ounce it would cost at the compassion club.

Given the above information I feel I as a legally exempted person my rights to be protected under the law and to have fair access to a legal supply has been tainted by the MMAD program of Health Canada. This policy that does not allow under any circumstances except when a new cultivation licence has been granted for licensed cultivators to obtain cannabis from PPS serves to counter my constitutional rights. Furthermore, the MMAD program has been ruled unconstitutional for a similar situation once before. This leave’s me relying on an illegal supply of cannabis I desperately need for the following three months. Furthermore at a greater cost than I would be paying for a legal source through PPS and by far more costly than if I was producing it myself. It is my hope that no other ill Canadians need experience this sort of personal duress when it is well know that the process of getting into the MMAD program is difficult and confusing for many. I would further this more in that if I get sick nobody can care for my plants. As I am a forward thinker I have to ask myself if I am sick and have a cultivation licence I will potentially need to once again obtain my cannabis illegally again if at all. Or go through the ordeal of removing my cultivation licence destroying my garden, which could be at any stage of growth. Moreover, the longer the plants are in the room the more funds I have personally put into them via electricity, organic supplies, soil, and the loss of many hours of the potential life span of my 1000w HPS High Pressure Sodium Lamp. This would ad to an already critical situation by the insertion of undue duress and personal financial loss. This followed by additional stress in finally having the option of a legal supply. As I has mentioned we go from A-symptomatic to symptomatic and back given this one can see the dilemma. Once better I would have to go through all the paper work and doctors, obtain new genetics once again before I could start producing my own cannabis. Hypothetical situation to this I say yes, realistic scenario yes as well. Sir for persons like myself living with HIV/AIDS I am sure your well aware of the stress factor associated with triggering opportunistic infections and crashing immune systems. Furthermore, I am on a fixed below the poverty line income. It is time for Health Canada to look at the policies that are in place to assist terminally ill persons like myself and fix the barriers that stop us from conforming to the LAW!!!!!

In closing I would add another great concern is that my personal security is not being protected the MMAD and the MMAR of Health Canada. Moreover, I have to carry a licence on me at all times that states my first middle and last name, D.O.B., address, amount of dried product that can be stored at that location, and the number of plants at my location. This to me sir this douse not protect my personal security and in my opinion does not conform to fundamental justice. I see no need for such personal and private information pertaining to cannabis such as number of plants and how much dried cannabis could potentially be on site. If I were to be robbed or lost my wallet and it fell into the wrong hands my production location is compromised. Moreover, on my licence it states I can store 2205 grams or 4.9 pounds of dried cannabis at the location and 49 plants can be potentially growing at any time. This information in the wrong hands jeopardises my family and person. I see no reason why a licence number with picture and first and last name would not suffice. Given that the police must call Health Canada regardless to confirm any information and that the card is not counter fit. I would further this to say that police have this information on the computer data banks in every city for registered cultivators to begin with. So I must ask why the infringement on my personal security when other Health Canada cards have a number and name and personal information is in the hands of secured government data banks and not in the hands of ill Canadian’s who in many cases have trouble remembering what they are doing in a day this is do to a variety of reasons from medications to illness. The loss of wallets and robberies happen every day. It is my hope sir that Health Canada takes a more serious look at the given issues in this letter ranging from barriers to access to constitutional infringement. I thank you for taking the time to review this letter. I look forward to hearing back from you about my concerns and frustrations.


Jason Wilcox

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