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MMAP strives for the constitutional minimum when it comes to administering federal pot program

By Hempology | July 28, 2007

NOW Magazine, CN
26 Jul 2007
Matt Mernagh


Internal audit reveals feds banking on legal limbo to obstruct medpot reforms.

The feds’ backward pot laws have been smoked out yet again – this time by a court decision two weeks ago declaring weed possession laws unconstitutional.

This after a Toronto man busted with $45 of bud argued that the country’s medical marijuana regulations are flawed.  But don’t expect the decision to make getting medical pot any easier.

The ongoing legal confusion surrounding our pot laws is what’s making our Medical Marihuana Access Program look like it’s being administered by the Trailer Park Boys. 

A recently completed internal audit by Health Canada suggests no long-term vision has ever been set out for the program, because pot laws have languished in a legal limbo since they were first struck down in 2003.

The audit makes particular note of a 2003 meeting at which then health minister Anne McLellan essentially instructed staff to obstruct the processing of Canadians seeking access to medpot.  It was at that meeting that a directive was issued for MMAP staff to strive for the constitutional minimum when it comes to administering the federal pot program.

The audit also reveals that the department still doesn’t have a mission statement and just recently developed standard operating procedures.

But the audit defends the decision not to adopt a long-term vision for the program by stating, “For reasons such as the complexity and rapid change of the issues impacting the program, it was not practical to further delineate performance targets.”

HC spokesperson Renee Bergeron responds in an e-mail that “Health Canada’s long-term vision involves the program acquiring, where possible, the features of a traditional health care model, including the phase-out of personal cultivation, distribution of marihuana to authorized persons through pharmacies, keeping abreast of the risks and benefits of marihuana and the sharing of such information with patients and their physicians.”

One of the problems HC is having, Bergeron writes, “is limited information from other countries’ experiences.”

HC may want to take a look at Oregon’s Medical Marijuana Program ( OMMP ).  Conceived at the same time as Canada’s, the Oregon program has registered 12,000-plus users and more than 2,500 physicians.  By comparison, HC has registered 1,741 Canadians and 1,028 doctors nationwide.

Since the UN has declared Canada the cannabis champion of the world, isn’t it high time we started acting like champs, not chumps?

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