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Comment: Medical marijuana - the Canadian experience

Sat 1 Jul 2006 In: Living Well View at Wayback View at NDHA

According to the Canadian AIDS Society, decriminalisation of medical marijuana hasn't been a complete success. In a new report, it provides some interesting information for those concerned with palliative use of an adapted version of the weed here. While the CAS report runs to ninety-six pages, fortunately they do also include an executive summary, as well as a series of fact sheets about how medicinal use of cannabis and its derivatives plays out in their context. So, what is the situation within the True North? Although the Canadian federal government runs a medicinal cannabis supply programme, it is hampered due to obstacles like lack of awareness of the programme's existence, conservative gatekeeper GPs or others who are uninformed about the benefits of cannabis derivative therapy for PLWAs, and limited options for supply, which has forced frustrated medicinal users onto the black market. CAS recommended that Health Canada seek further input from stakeholders in the programme about the obstacles that it has uncovered. According to the executive summary, it hasn't been through Canada's federal regulatory drug process, so it is currently rationed through food and drug regulations that may unneccesarily limit supply. For this reason, CAS supports greater decriminalisation than partial medicinal decriminalisation of cannabis alone. As yet too, though, there have been no clinical trials that might assist progress through Canada's drug regulatory system, as in New Zealand. Due to this, programmes like cultivation for personal medicinal use may be endangered due to the social conservatism of Stephen Harper's minority Conservative federal government. CAS also favours informed consent procedures and community cannabis nonprofit distribution centres for medicinal users of cannabis and its derivatives. And what of New Zealand? While even United Future sees nothing wrong with properly supervised medicinal cannabis clinical trials and consequent decriminalisation of medicinal cannabis, the government still needs someone to take the first step and apply for a clinical trial for medicinal cannabis in this country. And while we delay, further PLWAs and others with terminal illnesses may be continuing to suffer unnneccessarily. Recommended: NZ Medicinal Cannabis Support Group Bibliography: Janet Joy, Stanley Watson and John Benson (eds) Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base: Division of Neuroscience and Behavioural Health, Institute of Medicine: Washington DC:National Academy Press: 1999: ISBN: 0309071550 New Zealand Holdings: Auckland City Libraries Auckland University of Technology Library Canterbury Medical Library Ministry of Health Information Centre South Waikato District Library University of Auckland Philson Library Wellington Institute of Technology Library Alison Mack and Janet Joy (eds) Marijuana as Medicine? The Science Behind the Controversy: Washington DC: National Academy Press: 2001: ISBN: 0309065313 New Zealand Holdings: Auckland University of Technology Library Eastern Institute of Technology Hawkes Bay Library Invercargill District Library Kapiti District Library Tauranga District Library UCOL Library (Palmerston North) University of Auckland Science Library University of Canterbury Law Library University of Otago Medical Library Waikato Institute of Technology Library Wellington Institute of Technology Library Craig Young - 1st July 2006    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Saturday, 1st July 2006 - 12:00pm

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