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Canada’s old marijuana laws declared invalid, unconstitutional

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An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled that the federal medical marijuana program is unconstitutional, giving the government three months to fix the problem before pot is effectively legalized.

In an April 11 ruling, Justice Donald Taliano found that doctors across the country have “massively boycotted” the medical marijuana program and largely refuse to sign off on forms giving sick people access to necessary medication. As a result, legitimately sick people cannot access medical marijuana through appropriate means and must resort to illegal actions…

The judge’s decision comes in a criminal case involving Matthew Mernagh, 37, of St. Catharines who suffers from fibromyalgia, scoliosis, seizures and depression.

Marijuana is the most effective treatment of Mernagh’s pain. But despite years of effort, he has been unable to find a doctor to support his application for a medical marijuana licence. Mernagh resorted to growing his own cannabis and was charged with producing the drug.

Taliano found doctors essentially act as gatekeepers to the medical marijuana program but lack the necessary knowledge to adequately give advice or recommend the drug. He also found that Health Canada has made “no real attempt to deal with this lack of knowledge…”

“The body of evidence from Mr. Mernagh and the other patient witnesses is troubling,” Taliano wrote. “The evidence of the patient witnesses, which I accept, showed that patients have to go to extraordinary lengths to acquire the marijuana they need.”

Lawyer Alan Young, a longtime advocate of marijuana legalization, said the ruling is a step in the right direction.

It’s significant because it’s a Superior Court ruling which has binding effect across the province,” Young said.

“By enacting a dysfunctional medical program the government now has to pay the high cost of losing the constitutional authority to criminalize marijuana.”

Surprising to me that there isn’t even a significant minority of physicians in Canada with the gumption to support medical marijuana programs. Silly statements about insufficient evidence means they’re only reading their own studies. In the United States, in Europe, there are beaucoup studies from reputable peer-reviewed sources that support a range of symptoms and syndromes that are ameliorated by cannabis.

Meanwhile, as Alan Young said, the ruling has put the government in the situation of having no Plan B to deal with rejection of their outdated laws.

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Written by Ed Campbell

April 14, 2011 at 6:00 am

Indians ask for H1N1 kits, get enough body bags for a plague!

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Body Bag shipment

Health Canada has apologized for sending more than two dozen body bags to a Manitoba First Nation in preparation for a possible swine flu outbreak.

“We regret the alarm that this incident has caused,” said a statement issued late Thursday afternoon. “It is important to remember that our nurses are focused entirely on providing primary health-care services under often-trying circumstances.”

But the apology only cites the bags sent to the Wasagamack First Nation. Manitoba First Nations chiefs said the bags — which arrived this week with a shipment of hand sanitizers and face masks — also arrived in God’s River First Nation.

Earlier Thursday afternoon, Jim Wolfe, director of First Nations and Inuit Health for Manitoba, issued his own apology and took the blame.

He said his department regrets the alarm the shipment has caused in those communities, which were hard hit by the H1N1 flu virus in the spring. Wolfe said the apology goes out to all First Nations in the country, not just those who received the bags.

He said their remote geography was part of the reason he asked nursing stations in those communities to stock up for the winter.

Usually, shipments deliver enough supplies to nursing stations to last for six weeks, he said, adding that this time they shipped a lot more…

“Given the unknown events that we may facing in the fall, we asked our nursing stations to stock up for three to four months. And unfortunately in this case we overestimated our requirements and that unfortunately caused the alarm we are seeing now,” Wolfe said…

“Is the body bags a statement from Canada that we as First Nations are on our own?” Wasagamack Chief Jerry Knott asked.

He flew to Winnipeg with the bags on Wednesday and took them to the Health Canada building on York Avenue. The office was closed at the time, so he stacked the bags on the doorstep and marked them “Return to Sender.”

Seems like a pretty clear comment to me. Some of the suits running Health Canada haven’t a clue about life outside their gridlocked urban reservations.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 18, 2009 at 2:00 am

Why do Republicans lie about Canadian health care?

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If the only way we compared the two systems – U.S. versus Canada – was with statistics, there is a clear victor. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to dispute the fact that Canada spends less money on health care to get better outcomes.

Yet, the debate rages on. Indeed, it has reached a fever pitch since President Barack Obama took office, with Americans either dreading or hoping for the dawn of a single-payer health care system. Opponents of such a system cite Canada as the best example of what not to do, while proponents laud that very same Canadian system as the answer to all of America’s health care problems…

As America comes to grips with the reality that changes are desperately needed within its health care infrastructure, it might prove useful to first debunk some myths about the Canadian system.

Myth: Taxes in Canada are extremely high, mostly because of national health care.

In actuality, taxes are nearly equal on both sides of the border. Overall, Canada’s taxes are slightly higher than those in the U.S. However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, even beyond health care (e.g., tax credits, family allowance, cheaper higher education), so the end result is a wash. At the end of the day, the average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent.

Myth: Canada’s health care system is a cumbersome bureaucracy.

The U.S. has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world. More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead. Think about it. It is not necessary to spend a huge amount of money to decide who gets care and who doesn’t when everybody is covered.

Not so incidentally, single-payer systems run by the U.S. government can approach Canadian efficiency. Medicare and Social Security run at less than 3% overhead.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ed Campbell

June 27, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Fired for bothering smokers in non-smoking area

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Zak Gunter took on a smoker at Health Canada for lighting up where she wasn’t supposed to, and the smoker won.

Gunter, 24, was stunned when he lost his job with a fire-alarm testing company as a result of a confrontation with a public servant who had been smoking near the main entrance of Health Canada’s Jeanne Mance Building at Tunney’s Pasture.

Gunter’s troubles began near the end of his second day at Jeanne Mance, on April 7, when he noticed yet another smoker, a couple of metres outside the lobby’s main doors, puffing away beside a No Smoking sign. He says that, as he was working in the lobby area and the main doors were in constant use, he had to put up with continuous bursts of cigarette smoke and odour from groups of smokers who were huddled near the entrance. The weather was pretty crummy both days that he worked there, with snow, rain, wind and cool temperatures…

As he had done on eight or nine other occasions with other smokers over the two days at Jeanne Mance, Gunter rapped on the window, got the attention of the woman, and pointed to the No Smoking sign near where she was standing.

But unlike the other smokers, who he says sheepishly took the hint and finished their cigarettes away from the main entrance, the middle-aged woman gestured at Gunter to leave her alone. When she came inside, she confronted Gunter and gave him a piece of her mind.

She told him that his rapping on the window frightened her and that he had no business telling her what to do.

When he arrived for work the next morning, Gunter was told by Siemens to leave the premises because the company was investigating his “altercation” with the woman. The next day, Gunter was told that he had been relieved of his job. When Gunter defended his rights as a non-smoker, he says a Siemens supervisor told him, “I don’t care about your rights.”

Bureaucrats’ only loyalty is to the breed. Forget reason, forget law, forget common sense.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 29, 2009 at 10:00 am

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