Stephen Harper's reefer madness

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      Forget about Health Minister Rona Ambrose. Pay no attention to National Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay or anyone else in the bloated 38-member federal cabinet who happens to be the government's mouthpiece of the day on marijuana.

      Keep in mind the real war on medical cannabis is being driven by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

      It's Harper who's ultimately responsible for crafting legislation that makes it incredibly difficult for some very sick people to legally obtain a herb that will relieve some of their symptoms.

      The Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations require patients to obtain authorization from physicians. The problem is that many of them, including the regulators, seem to know very little about the medicinal benefits of the marijuana plant.

      This ignorance was on display when the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. proposed banning medicinal cannabis to anyone under the age of 25.

      The college that licenses doctors suggested this even though a nonpsychoactive extract, cannabidiol, has demonstrated some remarkable success in treating Dravet Syndrome. It's a severe form of epilepsy affecting infants and children.

      Harper's next measure to curtail the distribution of medicinal cannabis came when Health Canada prohibited licensed producers from advertising.

      This means that many people suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other serious conditions don't even know where they can acquire their medicine legally.

      Then Harper's government prohibited the licensed producers from selling edible products. The Supreme Court recently upheld the acquittal of a man who was selling marijuana-laced cookies to a compassion club.

      Lawyer Kirk Tousaw, who argued the case, told the Straight this month that dispensaries selling edibles are "stepping into a supply void created by an unconstitutionally restrictive government program".

      Harper has also ensured that noncommercial growing of cannabis for medical purposes is illegal. This is the subject of another court challenge.

      In some respects, the prime minister's war on marijuana is reminiscent of how he tried without success to stop gays and lesbians from marrying.

      All sorts of fears were raised back then: it would undermine traditional families; it infringed on religious freedom; it violates natural law; it denies a child a mother or a father—blah blah blah.

      The world didn't end when same-sex marriages were allowed. In fact, Canada became a better, more humane country.

      Now, Conservatives like Ambrose and Findlay whip up fears of cannabis reaching children—as if that isn't also a problem with pharmaceutical medicines. This is being addressed through regulations, such as making it difficult for children to open bottles.

      In April, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, wrote an article on the network's website calling for a "medical marijuana revolution". 

      The same month, CNN listed 10 conditions where medical cannabis could have an impact, including Alzheimer's disease and posttraumatic stress disorder.

      CNN is hardly a bastion of radical thinking, but its staff realize that reefer madness may get in the way of preventing army veterans from blowing their heads off.

      It's too bad that Harper and his minions still don't appear to understand this. 



      Barry William Teske

      Jun 25, 2015 at 11:53am

      Chasing The Scream by Johann Hari

      'nuff said.

      Bill Jones

      Jun 25, 2015 at 7:42pm

      Note that Mulcair and the NDP are also against legalization.


      Jun 26, 2015 at 8:51am

      I think a lot of them are terrified that their kids won't grow up to be functional alcoholics like they are.

      Chris P Bennett

      Jun 26, 2015 at 9:09am

      "The Alliance Church, to which Harper has belonged for decades, believes Jesus Christ will return to Earth in an apocalypse, won't ordain women, strongly opposes abortion and divorce, condemns homosexuality as the most base of sins and believes those who aren't born-again are "lost", a Vancouver Sun article reads. "The denomination's leaders, in addition, oppose… stem-cell research, euthanasia, [and] the use of marijuana … Harper doesn't respond to journalists, including those from The Vancouver Sun, who want to ask whether he shares such Alliance Church doctrines."

      Henry J Anslinger

      Jun 26, 2015 at 9:55am

      We are witnessing the death throes of prohibition while its advocates make a desperate and frantic last stand, their final frenzy.

      In years to come, the attitudes that now prevail towards people that choose cannabis will be as politically incorrect as racism, homophobia or denying women the vote.


      Jun 26, 2015 at 10:30am

      These politicians are still towing the line of the corporations they are protecting. Big Pharma, big oil, big tobacco, big alcohol, chemical manufacturers, have huge stakes to be lost. All because of a simple plant. It has always been the case.


      Jun 26, 2015 at 11:21am

      Rona Ambrose made the following statement with regards to Vancouver regulating marijuana venders - “Legitimizing and normalizing the use and sale of marijuana can have only one effect: increasing marijuana use and addiction.” I am, definitely, not an expert on cannabis, however, I have never heard of a marijuana addiction.

      Edward Lueng

      Jun 26, 2015 at 12:41pm

      Stephen Harper is one weird dude, and he is our leader. That's freaky!

      the last thing

      Jun 26, 2015 at 1:23pm

      the last thing this country needs is a silly old man bringing back 50's style moralization legislation... we need over open, honest discourse and sound and sober decision making. there's just so many elephants in the room and the cabinet lickspittles and small minds in ottawa have ulterior motives

      Claude Lombard

      Jun 26, 2015 at 3:13pm

      Correction, the NDP are for the decriminalization of marijuana ( stop giving criminal records ) and are somewhat open to a national ´talk ´ on legalization.