Volume 1 Issue 1 Spring 2000
- A brief history
- CCC press release
- Summer Conference
- Vancouver Millennium Marijuana March
- CALM database (Toronto, Ont )
- Michel Ethier running for mayor (Sturgeon Falls,Ont)
- Grant Krieger resigns from UCC (Calgary)
- Club arrests (Montreal)
- Section 56 Fiasco
- Section 56 Workshop in Ottawa
- Is the government seriously considering a domestic supply of medicinal cannabis?
- Renee Boje’s Extradition
- Selling Out?
Welcome to the first Canadian Cannabis Coalition (CCC) newsletter!
The cultural advantage of being Canadian gives us something we cannot ignore; a country quite different than the United States in many respects. But we still have a ways to go before we see a realistic, common sense approach allowing cannabis to be integrated into our lives and our healthcare system. Fears that things may get worse before they get better may not be unfounded as events such as the Section 56 fiasco and the Montreal club arrests reveal.
A sense of empathy toward our fellow citizens as an innate factor in the national identity, combined with the relentless efforts of activists does make a difference. Canada could conceivably follow the Netherlands in providing leadership in research, regulation and policy. Two very close allies in war again!
Thanks to everyone who contributed and made this newsletter what it is. Offers to help along with letters and submissions are always welcome to ensure this becomes part of the CCC landscape. Volunteers are needed for all newsletter positions , so please let us know how you can help.
Where to find us:
Canadian Cannabis Coalition
P.O. Box 1481
Grand Forks, B.C.
What is the CCC?
A Brief History
The idea to exchange information and ideas between suppliers of medicinal cannabis and the compassion clubs distributing it, began in April, 1999 as a small email networking list. Other participants joined in and soon a live conference was being planned.
The meeting was held in Grand Forks, B.C on June 12/99. Representatives from many organizations participated in this historic event and the Canadian Cannabis Coalition was born. The name, mission statement and steering committee were decided upon during the one day pow-wow; new friendships and liaisons were forged and a good time was had by all.
Networking continued, and a second meeting was held in Grand Forks on September 5 at which time the mission statement was refined and a Board of Directors elected. Several more organizations became affiliated with us at that time, and others have joined since, increasing the number of participating organizations to over fifteen including five compassion centres.
The Canadian Cannabis Coalition mission statement is: “The Canadian Cannabis Coalition is dedicated to facilitating access to a safe supply of cannabis through research, education and advocacy”.
The combined experience, knowledge, resources and talents of the participants makes the CCC a leading national authority on cannabis.
CCC Press Release – February 18, 2000:
The Canadian Cannabis Coalition (CCC), a national organization dedicated to facilitating access to a clean, safe, supply of therapeutic cannabis, will be re-evaluating it’s unwritten policy of encouraging people to apply for section 56 exemptions to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in direct response to the government’s obvious mismanagement of the process.
The CCC is shocked that such gross government incompetence is being tolerated. The people being impacted by this leak are the ill and dying. The document in question was a list of section 56 exemption applicants; people hoping to be granted ministerial permission to grow or possess cannabis for medical purposes. Highly sensitive personal information is required for this bureaucratic process, and the government has demonstrated that it is unable to assure the level of privacy to which the applicants are entitled to under the law.
In the wake of the unfortunate raid on the Montreal compassion club and its members, Health Minister Rock opined that the better approach is, “that they (the sick) are given marijuana that is safe and clean from a government source.”
So far Health Canada has granted 20 Section 56 exemptions, but the government has yet to provide access to a safe supply of medicinal cannabis.
Presently there are compassion clubs across the country. They work independently (but in unity), with doctors, health practitioners, and lawyers. The purpose of these clubs is to ensure that medicine is available for those in need and can be procured within a safe, secure environment. The people providing and using these necessary health services should not penalized by this misapplication of Canada’s drug laws.
A 1999 survey conducted by Decima Research showed that 78% of Canadians support medicinal cannabis, yet clubs are still being shut down, and sick people are further threatened by the loss of health, privacy, and precious time.
The Canadian Cannabis Coalition believes that this is a health and welfare issue rather than a legal one; the sick and dying should not be used as pawns in Ottawa’s drug reform debate.
It’s time to have the government listen to the majority, let them hear your voice by contacting the following:
The Minister of Health, Allan Rock
Brooke Claxton Building
Postal Locator 0916A
Minister Rock’s Office
Manager of Controlled Substances (office dealing with section 56 applicants)
Voices in a choir,
The Canadian Cannabis Coalition
If you, your organization or compassion club have concerns you would like to see addressed in press releases, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://drugsense.org/ccc/feedback.htm
When: June 9-11, 2000
Lodge, Grand Forks, B.C. Canada
Friday: networking, socials
Saturday: Agenda – full day
- 9 rooms in the lodge: $35, each double occupancy
- Unlimited floor space in other buildings: $25 for 2 days, mattresses on the floor
- Unlimited camping $15.00 for 2 days
Food can be communal
People can arrive Friday any time and should plan to leave by Monday morning, although special arrangements
can be made to stay longer.
For further information or to register and pre-pay to ensure your space:
The Vancouver Millennium Marijuana March
David Malmo-Levine is organizing the Vancouver Millennium Marijuana March
for May 6, 2000. David advises the best way to find out what is happening is to go to the “activists and activism” discussion forum at http://www.cannabisculture.com/cgi/wwwthreads/wwwthreads.pl action=list&Board=wwwactive – most of the public planning is going on there.
For further information contact David at: email@example.com
Compassion Club News
Cannabis As Living Medicine (CALM) – Toronto, Ontario
Toronto’s compassion club, CALM, wants to start a MMJ database classified
by medical condition, ie cancer, HIV, glaucoma, etc.
we are looking for:
a) people to collect/hawk links or articles via the net
b) those who know how set up internet databases
c) anyone wanting to learn about these skills
d) finding volunteers interested in a + b
This should be a collection of links/cut-and-pastes of *scientific* medical articles, and virtually no main stream articles (Star, Post), no LTEs, and no discussions/personal opinions (for now), with the exception of verifiable personal medical testimonies.
Please reply with ‘subscribe’ to receive/ join this group.
Neev @ CALM
Cannabis As Living Medicine
Toronto, Canada http://www.lostat.com/calm
Compassionate Cannabis Club – Sturgeon Falls, Ontario
Michel Ethier of the Compassionate Cannabis Club in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario states, “I want to grow acres and acres of cannabis in our city (800 square kilometers of area). This cannabis would be mostly for compassion
clubs. I hope that I can have a lot of support on this from the compassion club community. Just think, pounds of cannabis for medical purposes, available at a price range of between $100 and $300 a pound.”
Michel also wishes to enter the political arena this year. He says, “I will be having my name on the election ballot for the position of mayor in the November or December 2000 election for West Nipissing. ”
Universal Compassion Centre – Calgary, Alberta
The following is the press release issued from the UCC in Calgary:
February 02, 2000
Mr. Grant Krieger, one of the co-founders of the Universal Compassion Centre (UCC) and his son, Adam Krieger, have resigned their positions and are no longer affiliated with the UCC. The board of directors have officially accepted their resignations and wish them well with Grant’s cannabis-related Constitutional challenge in Calgary’s Court of Queen’s Bench.
The non-profit UCC will continue to serve members while seeking to become an authorized distributor of therapeutic cannabis for people with section 56 exemptions. It is our intention to establish a wellness centre to bring together various alternative therapies, practitioners and information for members.
We appreciate your support, assistance and donations.
For further information contact:
Universal Compassion Centre
PO Box 5092, Station A
Calgary, Alberta T2H 1X1
Club Compassion de Montreal – Montreal, Quebec
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Pubdate: Saturday, 12 Feb 2000
Author: Ingrid Peritz, Quebec Bureau
Medical Marijuana Club Raided
When it comes to smoking marijuana in Montreal, it seems that even a doctor’s note is not good enough.
Police proved on Thursday that they’re not prepared to be compassionate toward the city’s so-called Compassion Club, a storefront site offering medical marijuana. Officers arrested two employees and seized the names of 27 doctors who had recommended pot for their ailing patients.
Apologetic-sounding police said yesterday they had no choice. The federal government can give permission to cultivate and use marijuana for medical purposes, but marijuana “compassion clubs” remain illegal.
“We feel pain for the people who are suffering, but until legislators change the law we have to apply it,” Commander AndrÈ Lapointe said. “We’re not gloating over this.”
Marc St. Maurice and Alexandre NÈron appeared in court yesterday on charges of possessing 66 grams of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking — enough to make 150 to 300 cigarettes, “depending on the size,” Cdr. Lapointe said.
The raid also raises the possibility of holding doctors criminally responsible for recommending pot to their patients. Police confiscated evidence from physicians who had suggested marijuana use to 33 patients and forwarded it to Crown prosecutors.
The doctors could face charges of counselling someone to commit a criminal offence, Cdr. Lapointe said, adding that prosecutors will decide. He noted that some patients at the club suffered from serious ailments such as AIDS and breast cancer, while others complained of migraines and back pain.
Only one of the members had received a federal exemption for taking marijuana for medicinal purposes.
When the club opened, the director said patients would require a doctor’s note or prescription, and were allotted only enough marijuana for personal use. Police say they have been building their case ever since the club opened, and put the club under surveillance — not very difficult, since it is across the street from a police station.
Section 56 Fiasco
Over the weekend of February 5-6, applicants for the section 56 exemptions were phoned by a government official and told a journalist had broken into an office at Health Canada and stolen information on the applicants.
While the motivation is still unclear, it exposes how weak security is at Health Canada and has placed the whole process in jeopardy. Something will be done; whether it is something superficial like tightening security or more tangible like expediting the process is undetermined until we see what manifests….BUT….. we could hazard a guess.
Section 56 Workshop in Ottawa
A meeting was held by Health Canada under the Controlled Substances and Therapeutic Products Division on Monday 28-Feb-2000, the same day as the federal budget. It was called a ‘stakeholder’s workshop’ where approximately 40-50 people attended. There were exemptees, doctors, various federal agencies, RCMP representatives, nurse and palliative care org reps. It was a very good mix of people, some in key positions, to the credit of HC.
As a caregiver to many people, I offered my services too. Since there was no budget for my consulting fees, I agreed to go pro bono; flight, hotel, and cash-out-of-hand expenses covered.
Of the 10 of the 22 exemptees that were able to attend, all had various medical conditions including nerve damage and rare genetic disorders. One woman came in a wheelchair (and attached hickman line!), while Mr. Messier, an
exemptee from Montreal came in on a motorized stretcher. Professional translation was also provided.
The catering manager authorized the federal exemption to smoke cannabis in an out-of-the-way meeting room called the Rotary Room. A Toronto doctor (and many others) agreed it was an excellent idea, long over due, and should be available at all relevant medical gatherings. He also tactfully added that, despite one of HC’s objections, the workshop was indeed about decrimilization or legalization, ‘its why we’re all sitting here’.
The presentations by Dr. Kallant (U of T Pharmacology) and Dr. Musty (U of Vermont) were thorough updates on current established research protocols involving countries from North America and Europe. I addressed two concerns to them:
1) The philosophy that cannabis is a dangerous drug that needs to be curtailed for safety issues, when research indicates it is a relatively safe drug which could be made safer with realistic government regulations.
2) There seemed to be a lack of choice in these ‘end-results’. People can choose anesthetic by gas, pill, or needle; those on pharmaceutical anti-depression can grow their St. John’s Wort. Sprays, patches and suppositories are valid goals, but in the end it sounds like technology will be developed, sick people will take them, or they will go to jail.
An exemptee with HIV from Toronto made an excellent observation that with HIV combination therapy there are drugs that will deteriorate the digestive system, the liver, or kidneys. Given that Health Canada’s main argument of lung damage under constant or heavy use, how is choosing this side-effect worse or different?
NIDA is willing to supply Canada, except that each joint ends up costing $12 Cdn, to the astonishment of the crowd. First the US dominates the heroin trade in the 70s, then cocaine in the 80s, now they want to corner the ganja market too!!!
The presentations were thorough and only limited time was left ask the presenters direct questions. Ultimately, in the middle of all this research, they are not sure what they are dealing with exactly and working with the underground movement is not the way to do things.
Dr Kilby talked about his experience with Mr. Parriseau, in that he felt obligated to ‘go public’ when he and his wife were arrested 2 days after Dr Kilby said they had very little to worry about. He told me that there were no professional consequences to advising people about MMJ, but doctors risk being shunned by their extreme conservative colleagues, and worse, you get known by the public as Dr. Pot; people come out of the woodwork looking for a prescription, supply, or business plans. Dr. Kilby said the only criticism he received was about the legal and judicial ‘can or worms’ he’s opened in supporting his patient; more than going against OMA guidelines or towing the party line.
After a very nice lunch buffet, we were broken up into 4 groups (at random) to brainstorm some ideas a) submission process b) physician conerns c) approval process d) 3rd party interests
I was in group d) with some exemptees, people from Casey House, various nursing orgs, and RCMP Drug Awareness. They asked us questions like who should be at the next stakeholder’s workshop, what can Health Canada immediately fix with sec.56.
Most obvious was the need for a source of marijuana for safe supply, followed by education to all related organization especially police, caregiver’s, physicians, and Health Canada. (Incidentally, an exemptee from Oshawa told me he went to Durham Police Academy to talk with recruits about his use of medicinal cannabis and drug laws.) New ideas that were mentioned were liability and insurance (for nurses, orgs, caregivers, and exemptees), caregivers must be exempt, and literacy to educate people and remove the criminal mystique around cannabis use.
We all came back into the same room and shared the top three brainstorm ideas. Essentially, everyone agreed that HC is over concerned about criminality with s56 exemptions, marijuana literacy is a must.
HC was very specific about keeping their cards close, but it became evident that HC is not mentally prepared to accept medicinal cannabis, and much work must be done. An exemptee from Kitchener said it best, “This workshop is an important huge teeny-weeny baby step forward”.
I enjoyed meeting the exemptees most. They all seem to be very intelligent individuals, most with a story they feel needs to be told. The Rotary Room was a breakthrough in itself, and I hope to see more arrangements like that in the future.
What was most obvious to me over the course of this day, was that cannabis clubs have no place in a legal market where anyone with a medical need can get marijuana. We are so far away from that day, that clubs (activism) are the solution until the government genuinely fixes the problem.
Neev @ CALM
Cannabis As Living Medicine
How serious is the government about finding a domestic supply of medicinal cannabis?
Publicly it seems Alan Rock is quite serious, or least that is what the evidence implies:
The Canadian government issued a “Request for information” and a request for a “Letter of Interest” on January 4th 2000. It is anticipated that the actual contract, or, Request for Proposals, now released in draft form will be posted in the third week in January 2000.
Rock said he will also finalize the government’s criteria for finding businesspeople who might be interested in supplying the federal government with pot: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99/n1100/a06.html
In June, Health Canada asked for tenders to supply marijuana for clinical tests on its medicinal properties when smoked.
Rock held out hope for Canadian cannabis growers when he said, “I’m going to insist on a Canadian source. Are we a country or not?” : http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99/n1176/a04.html
JUDGE ORDERS BOJE SURRENDERED FOR EXTRADITION
Earlier today, February 9, Justice Catliff of the British Columbia Supreme Court ordered that Renee Boje be surrendered for extradition to the US on all counts. Her charges include possession, production, conspiracy to possess, conspiracy to produce and conspiracy to traffic in marijuana. The US prosecution had asked the judge to set bail at a half million dollars. Boje’s lawyer, John Conroy, appealed the ruling immediately and had Boje out on $5,000 bail later that day.
Justice Catliff’s unusually brief seven-page decision was heavily weighted in favour of the US prosecution. After the trial, Conroy commented on Catliff’s decision, explaining that the judge really had little power to rule in favour of Boje.
“The role of the judge at this stage is really narrow compared to the following stages,” said Conroy.
The next step is for Boje’s case to proceed to the Minister of Justice, Anne McLellan, before it goes on to the Appeal Court of British Columbia. The Justice Minister can release Boje under sections 44 or 46 of the Extradition Act, should the minister be “satisfied that surrender would be unjust or oppressive,” or that “the conduct in respect of which extradition is sought is a political offence or an offence of a political character.” “I am now in the hands of the public and the Canadian MInister of Justice,” said Boje. “If enough people send in letters of support to the minister before March 10, I have faith that the minister will make a compassionate decision.”
Should Boje be extradited despite attempts to appeal Catliff’s decision, she faces an unusually oppressive sentence.
“The US is still saying that if they get her they will subject her to a minimum ten years,” explained Conroy.
Hilary Black, founder of the Vancouver Compassion Club, was visibly disturbed by the ruling. “Today’s ruling greatly saddens me in the face of all the progress and tolerance today,” said Black. “It is hard to see a wonderful woman like Renee being sent south of the border to rot in a cage while here I am being condoned by Provincial Court judges.”
Tomorrow Renee will be sending out instructions on how to write letters to the minister. Please help her by writing a letter. It could be the difference between 10 years in jail or freedom for a dedicated and beautiful spirit.
P.S. ….good news for Renee!!!
Anne McLellan, the Canadian Minister of Justice, granted Renee Boje a 45 day extension for submissions on Renee’s behalf! That means there is more time to get as many letters of support for Renee as possible to the Minister by April 17,2000! The Minister will be making her decision about Renee on, or shortly after April 17th.
“Yes, it is exciting being on the edge of change, isn’t it.. It is also similar to the beginning of the environmental movement. The toughest job the environmentalists had in the beginning and still do is “selling the truth to the media and the public.”
The main reason marijuana is not totally legal for medical purposes in Canada is, the United States.”
Maury Mason – founding member of Greenpeace
The accusations abound that medical activists are sell-outs who are helping to widen the gap between recreational users and medical users which makes it more difficult to gain support for total legalization. There is quite a variance of opinion amongst medical activists themselves, so each club reflects the philosophy of it’s directors. In order to have any form of legitimacy, compromises have to be made – that’s life. The CCC can play an important role in deciding the difference between compromising and selling-out.
The ideology set forth at the first meeting of the CCC hinged on the word “medicinal” or “therapeutic” being incorporated into the mission statement. The nuance was significant enough to provoke discussion and the vote led to a consensus to approach our mandate in the broadest terms.
The middle-ground approach of working toward the regulation of therapeutic cannabis for anyone using it to improve the quality of their life has caused little or no opposition except from the extreme reactionary types. Common sense dictates everyone should have access to a clean, safe supply but surely the ill should have access regardless of all other considerations if our compassion is real.
If there is any doubt about the need for a clean safe supply; purchase cannabis off the street for about six months, preferably anywhere outside of BC. Then picture yourself ill and depending on this for medicine. It can be very difficult to find a steady supply and the questionable quality of the product should convince anyone that implemention of standards and regulations along with established outlets for dispensing are needed to carry out our mandate.
Another function of the CCC may be the same any self-regulating association imposes on itself by way of standards, ethics, quality control measures and regulations. The entire modern cannabis industry has always been in dire need of standards and regulation and doing that ourselves would make more sense than having the government trying to do it for us somewhere down the road.
The government’s obvious reluctance to be realistic about cannabis by expecting everyone to believe all the bureaucracy is rational and necessary is our nemesis. Right now it is the ‘be all’, but it is not the ‘end all’. How influential we are in deciding possible outcomes depends a lot on our own ideologies, stamina and efforts to organize. With over 83% of popular support, having a strong political or lobby wing could be really helpful. What does our government fear the most – the USA or losing their jobs – let’s find out!
There are still important pieces of the national puzzle missing (YOU ALL KNOW WHO YOU ARE !!!) but it is coming together and creating a formidable picture of the Canadian cannabis movement.
So let’s pull together like never before!