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article imageOttawa set to appeal medical marijuana injunction

By Nicole Weddington     Apr 1, 2014 in Health
The Canadian government has announced its intention to appeal a court order which allows a large number of medical marijuana patients to continue growing their own plants for personal, medical use while challenges to proposed changes remain on the table.
In a brief statement on Monday, Health Canada voiced its disagreement with the court-issued injunction and said it intends to challenge it.
The injunction allows those patients currently licensed to possess and grow marijuana for medical applications to continue to do both while patients argue in court the government's plan to make sweeping changes to the country's marijuana system.
It is expected that the proceeding will be scheduled sometime within the next year.
Growing marijuana has been allowed to licensed patients in Canada since 2001. Health Canada's consistent stand has been one in opposition to the use of marijuana for any purpose.
Health Canada has stated that the country's medical marijuana program has been seriously abused since its inception and that marijuana growing operations present various risks which outweigh patients' rights to cultivate their own crop.
“[We expect] these new measures, including information on dosage guidelines, educational material and increased oversight, will decrease the potential for over-prescribing and negative health impacts,” said Health Canada.
This is still a far cry from some US states where marijuana is now legal, even for recreational use. This in turn has led to a boost in the marijuana industry with business like Smokewire capitalizing on the change in legal status.
Health Minister Rona Ambrose expressed the opinion that the program exists for the sole purpose of fulfilling a court mandate requiring reasonable access to pot. In a statement, Ambrose said she wished to, “emphasize that marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada.”
Ambrose went on to state that she has heard concerns from certain health organizations regarding prescribing marijuana. She has asked officials with Health Canada to draft documentation on medicinal marijuana that will assist medical personnel including doctors and nurses in making informed decisions about it.
Health Canada is proposing the creation of a new system which restricts the production of marijuana only to commercial, licensed producers.
These plans are being contested because patients say that they will drive the price of marijuana up and limit their control over the strains they are able to obtain and use.
Patients argue that being denied the right to produce their own crop for personal use is a direct violation of their Charter of Rights. The federal government holds to the opinion that the Constitution does not guarantee any private citizen the right to produce medication of any kind, even for personal use.
In the wake of this controversy there are sure to be numerous questions that rise to the surface, not the least of which being whether or not Canadian citizens should be allowed to retain their freedom of choice when deciding for themselves how their own needs will be best served in the area of medical marijuana.
There are literally thousands of strains of cannabis, all with their own levels of potency and effectiveness in various applications, making this anything but a cut-and-dry issue for the federal government or for lawmakers.
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