April 20, 2009
To The Honourable Dr. Keith Martin:
As sick and dying federally authorized medical marijuana consumers, we wish to bring to your attention the
critical state of current legislation. We believe that the Medical Marijuana Access Regulations pose a risk
to those of us who wish to comply with the laws and ensure the personal health and safety of ourselves and
The following problems we collectively encounter with Health Canada compromise our legality and,
therefore, our safety:
1. Health Canada Does Not Process Our Applications/Renewals/Change of Information in a Timely Fashion.
No matter how well we plan for the renewals of our licenses, Health Canada places our files in a “queue”
with 8-10 week delays. Often, a license will expire before they have sent us a new one. This leaves us in
legal limbo, as there is no assurance that upon their receipt of necessary paperwork, Health Canada deems
During the waiting time, we are intimidated by Health Canada into not asking questions critical to our
wellness by being told that one phone call they have to return to us will delay our applications by at least 3
days. We require better access to information that affects our health and safety.
Sometimes we encounter problems with a legal grower and have to revoke his or her license. Health
Canada insists we return the original growing license before they will authorize a new one. When we try to
get them back, we are potentially in danger. Arrests have occurred when we have attempted to go about this
revocation according to the MMAR demands. In addition, delays in processing grower’s permits cause
delays in the delivery of dried marijuana to us, as crops cannot be started until licenses are in place. We can
lose an unnecessary two to three months in medicine production because of bureaucratic delays.
2. Health Canada Interferes with Our Doctors, Jeopardizing Our Doctor/patient Relationship and Violating Our Privacy.
We are forced to sign releases so that Health Canada can question our doctors as to amounts, medical
conditions and other personal information. This is signed by us under duress. We must “voluntarily” give
up our rights to privacy that all other sick and dying Canadians are afforded.
There are very few doctors in Canada who sign authorizations. Many patients who are sick and dying
cannot find doctors who will do this. Those of us who do have this privilege of signing doctors live in fear
that our doctors will be intimidated by Health Canada and will stop signing our authorizations.
Doctors are denied access to proven research that would allow them to reach a comfort level with the
known medicinal qualities of cannabis. Health Canada will provide a marijuana research kit to doctors and
patients upon request. However, these contain information based on faulty assumptions and focus on
“possible’ adverse effects, rather than on clear benefits.
Health Canada sets an arbitrary limit in dosage. If our doctors go beyond that limit, in the best interest of
the patient, they are harassed by Health Canada. Our limits are sometimes punitively lowered if we attempt
to have legal access to what we need to survive and function to the best of our ability. We know of no other
doctor-prescribed medicine that Health Canada regulates in this particular way.
3. Health Canada Forces Sick and Dying Canadians to Reapply Yearly.
Paperwork is one of the biggest difficulties for those of us who are sick and dying.. Each year we diligently
renew our authorizations, sometimes at the cost of great physical and emotional stress, aware of Health
Canada’s delays and areas of ambiguity with the law. This exacerbates whatever condition qualified us for
authorization in the first place. Those of us collecting CPP Disability benefits have been deemed by the
federal government as “permanently disabled”. We believe that Health Canada should respect our status,
as CPP does, and not require us to go through this stressful process yearly.
4. Health Canada Provides Us Access to Irradiated, Very Low Quality, Health-compromising, Marijuana.
Health Canada was forced to provide medical consumers with access to a supply of marijuana. This product
of Prairie Plant Systems is both ineffective and dangerous. Some who tried it were sent to hospital with
burns to the throat. Others experienced vomiting. We cannot use this product. This forces us to grow for
ourselves or to seek out growers on our own. Unless we are part of the medical users community, it is
difficult to find an honest, reliable, compassionate grower. Not everyone has access to or chooses to be part
of that community, Because marijuana is illegal for everyone else, our grower’s licenses must be issued to
only the most trustworthy. We have no way of ensuring that.
Even if it were usable, the cost of Health Canada marijuana is prohibitive to us. As with most disabled
populations, many of us live below the poverty line, on disability support or government pensions, If we
pay Health Canada $5.00 per gram per month to acquire our legal allowance (which is generally 5 grams
per day X 30 days X $5.00 = $750.00) we will not have money for necessities of food or shelter, never
mind supporting our families. Although we are allowed to claim expenses on our income tax, most of us do
not receive enough income to cover our medical expenses using the Federal Tax Credit.
No one can grow or acquire marijuana completely free. The MMAR states that growers are legally entitled
to recoup their expenses, yet there is no mechanism for low-income earners to do so. In effect, those
growers are growing for the government and should be paid by them.
Health Canada refuses to assign a Drug Identification Number (DIN) to medical marijuana. Doing so
would allow for our medicine to be covered under insurance plans, public or private. We are denied
payment for medication which often allows us the simple ability to function without pain or control
disorders such as multiple sclerosis or epilepsy. No other population is discriminated against in this way,
Pharmaceuticals are covered by insurance. Our doctor-authorized medicine is not, and according to Health
Canada, will never be, as they refuse to assign a DIN even to their own product.
5. Health Canada does not Interact with Local Law-enforcement in Ways that Will Protect Both Our Privacy and Our Safety.
The illegality of marijuana for non-authorized persons causes us to constantly act in ways that will maintain
our privacy in larger society. We experience home invasions and theft. We also experience police raids as
the public is encouraged to report what they think might be an illegal grow-op or simple possession.
Local police officers are often not even aware that these laws exist. Their superiors often refuse to educate
officers in the MMAR. Our licenses do not stop them at the door. If we are suspected of growing or
possessing marijuana, we are treated in the same way as criminals are. We live under Napoleonic law,
guilty until proven innocent.
6. Health Canada Circulates Bogus Research and Unsubstantiated Claims About Possible “Adverse” Effects of Marijuana to Perpetuate its Campaign of Disinformation.
In the last decades, many medical researchers throughout the world have done hundreds of scientific
studies and official research proving the multiple benefits of medicinal marijuana. These studies are solid
evidence which cannot be refuted or ignored. Yet Health Canada stubbornly maintains that marijuana’s
medicinal benefits are only anecdotal or “hearsay”. In the context of marijuana prohibition, and because of
its anti-drug strategy, Health Canada will admit only to, and supply to some doctors, inconclusive research
and disinformation about any possible adverse effects of marijuana consumption. They will not admit to, or
circulate, the solid evidence of benefits. Health Canada should not supply only negative or inconclusive
marijuana research. They should also be forbidden from interfering with the doctor-patient relationship.
This situation is unseen for those who are prescribed any other ‘legal’ narcotics or medicines.
Health Canada perpetuates the false premise that there is a link between marijuana and schizophrenia and
Health Canada claims, without evidence, that marijuana is addictive. In the eyes of mainstream Canadians,
addiction to illegal substances is reason to deny human and constitutional rights to citizens, as it is
associated with criminality. The sick and dying are stigmatized within their own communities and families.
Many people have experienced the dissolution or alienation of their families because of the shame of this
fallacious “addiction”. In addition, placing us as the only legal users of an illegal substance, Health Canada,
in effect, marginalizes us to the fringes of society. This marginalization can cause chaos in families, leading
to the eventual severing of family ties. Health Canada’s promulgation of hatred strikes at the very core of
our humanity: love of family and friends.
7. The MMAR Violates Our Constitutional Rights.
Time and again, federal and provincial courts have ruled in our favour, declaring marijuana laws to be
unconstitutional. Yet, the government refuses to acknowledge that the courts have struck down these laws.
There is debate as to whether or not there are any laws at all. Once laws have been struck down by the
courts, only Parliament can resurrect them by enacting new ones. This has not happened. Yet we are
victims of the same constitutional violations as we were in 2001 and 2003, with or without valid legislation
Pressed to the full in court, Health Canada , at the behest of the Justice Department, claims that Canada has
‘international obligations” to control cannabis. All the obstructions placed in the MMAR exemption
process, including those that have been stuck down as unconstitutional, and reinstated nevertheless, are
necessary in meeting those international obligations. The ‘obligation” referred to is the Single Convention
of 1961 (64).
We know, however, that the Single Convention of 1961 was addressed by our courts in 2008.
In Sfetkopoulos (Issues  ) Counsel agreed that the Convention has not been make part of the law of
Canada as such, although parts of it have been implemented by Canadian law. In this decision it was stated
that “if to follow the requirements of the Convention were to conflict with Canadian constitutional
requirements such as the guarantees in Section 7 of the Charter, then the Canadian Constitution must
prevail in this Court.”
In other words, we are clearly not obligated to international treaties. Canada must now act as a sovereign
nation and remove specious restrictions which jeopardize all citizens. The destructive stresses and horrors
of unjust incarceration and endless court battles can no longer be placed upon the bodies of the sick and
We outline below the ways in which these constitutional violations affect us:
a) We are forced to carry cards which state our legality to possess, how much we are allowed to
Possess and other personal information. Grower’s licenses contain even more personal information. We
believe this is a private matter. No other sick and dying population is forced to carry cards in order to
access its own medication. Nor does any other population have to prove the legality of its medications or
b) The very structure of the MMAR automatically paints us as criminals in the eyes of the
international community. The legality of using cannabis medicine is only recognized in Canada, and
Health Canada stipulates on the back of their MMAR cards that they are only valid in Canada. Since
Health Canada’s MMAR is also controlled by our federal justice ministry, MMAR cards are registered on
RCMP databanks. This information is available on computer to U.S. police forces and their border guards.
This is an invasion of our privacy and de facto criminalization. Since the MMAR card forbids its holders
from travelling abroad, we are treated the same as those with criminal records. This is MMAR created
discrimination and medical segregation. Until marijuana prohibition ends all over the world, MMAR card
holders should be recognized and able to travel with, acquire and use marijuana in places with similar
c) We are forced to renew our licenses yearly despite being permanently disabled.
d) Although we have the right to possess, there is still a problem with access. Health Canada gives us
access to Prairie Plant Systems – Cannasat mineshaft marijuana: grown, processed and supplied under
Health Canada’s specifications. Twigs and leaves are finely blended with the buds so the THC content is
reduced to standardized acceptable levels. This product is then gamma-irradiated to avoid possible fungi,
mold, mildew and any other contaminants. The levels of THC are far too low for true medicinal efficacy.
This leaves us to grow for ourselves or to designate growers. Many of us can do neither and are forced to
buy from Health Canada. Those who do so will not experience the true medicinal benefits of marijuana.
e) We are denied access to research so that we can best determine ways to treat our otherwise untreatable
conditions. The government must allow marijuana research and make it accessible to us and our doctors.
f) We are denied equal status in the eyes of doctors, lawyers, the press, and the government.
Because Health Canada does not make accessible positive results from valid, peer-reviewed marijuana studies, the public and those cited above, are filled with misconceptions, disinformation, and out and out hatred of our choices.
g) We are people with disabilities. People with disabilities have historically suffered stigma. People
whose disabilities do not respond to conventional treatment are further stigmatized as we are seen as noncompliant or malingering. Most medical marijuana consumers have tried every medical intervention
offered to us and found that our conditions respond, best or only, with marijuana use. Because this is illegal
for the rest of the population and has been demonized by government disinformation, we are more than
stigmatized; we are demonized. Many of us lock our doors and don’t go out because of this fact. Those who
use traditional medical treatment regimes do not have to hide.
h) Unlike other persons with disabilities, we are constantly at the risk of arrest. We are expected to
willingly to go to jail to stop pain or ameliorate other crippling conditions. Health Canada has protocol for
police to follow if they question us. Since most officers aren’t educated in how the program works, or even
that it exists at all, arrests can happen at any time. If we have to wait for police to verify our legality
through Health Canada, we do so from a jail cell. People with such catastrophic illnesses such as multiple
sclerosis, end-stage cancer, crippling arthritis or hepatitis C are criminalized because we found relief in
something the government has arbitrarily deemed illegal and then given us the legal right to use.
As government authorized medical consumers of marijuana, we demand that you take our concerns to parliament and speak on our behalf. The unreasonable, ambiguous MMAR protocols are protective of the
MMAR and so-called international obligations, not us, or our constitutional and legal rights. We are constantly put at risk by Health Canada when we try our best to comply with regulations.
In a country where marijuana is legally used by fewer than 3500 sick and dying citizens, those
of us who are sick and dying and legal cannabis users are put in peril every day by the above outlined, ever-growing list of problems inherent in the MMAR. As government authorized medical consumers of marijuana, we demand that you take our concerns to parliament and speak on our behalf. The unreasonable, ambiguous
MMAR protocols are protective of the MMAR and so-called international obligations, not us, or our constitutional and
legal rights. We are constantly put at risk by Health Canada when we try our best to comply with regulations. In a country
where marijuana is legally used by fewer than 3500 sick and dying citizens, those
of us who are sick and dying and legal cannabis users are put in peril every day by the above outlined, ever-growing list of
problems inherent in the MMAR.
Parliament must repeal the MMAR and replace it with a workable system. Barring that, they must end
Derek R. Francisco, P.O. Box 212, Lindsay, Ontario K9V 4S1
Authorization # APPL – DRF-12F0089112272-08-B
Kathryn A. Lewis, 569 Pall Mall St. London, Ontario N5Y 2Z8
Authorization # AP-KAL01LO185130752-08-A
Wilford M. Shiell, 734 Fanshawe Park Road, London, Ontario N5X 2B9
Authorization # AP-WMSO4SO122151956-08-A
cc. The Honourable Glen Pearson, MP, London North Centre
The Honourable Libby Davies, MP, Vancouver East
The Honourable Deb Matthews, MPP, London North
Grant Hopcroft, City of London, Intergovernmental Affairs
Deputy Police Chief Ian Peer, City of London
Police Commission, City of London
Roger Khouri, Chair, Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, London
David Lepofsky. AODA , Queen’s Park
Nick Martin, Winnipeg Free Press
Paul Berton, Editor, London Free Press
Dr. D. Boyd, London
Dr. M. Gupta, London
ARCH Legal Service