Alison in the Media
The Globe and Mail – February 22, 2017
Illegal Toronto dispensary challenges Ottawa over medical marijuana laws
CBC News – May 26, 2016
Toronto police raid pot shops suspected of trafficking
CTV News – May 25, 2016
Police Crack down on marijuana dispensaries across the GTA
Huffington Post article: Quito Maggi
“Why did the chicken cross the road?” goes the old joke, with the obvious answer being, “to get to the other side.” Sadly, not all of life’s questions have such simple and obvious answers.
We recently learned that the mayor of Toronto, John Tory, sent a letter to the Licensing and Standards department asking them to “study and make recommendations” on regulating medicinal cannabis dispensaries in Toronto. This came just a day after Mayor Tory visited a dispensary himself to get a first hand look at the operation.
So, why did the mayor visit and ask city officials to “study” this, and then immediately begin issuing warning letters from Licensing and Toronto Police ahead of any report — all ahead of even letting the standards committee to weigh in on the issue? I wish the answer were simple.
We learned yesterday that Cannabis Canada, the trade association that represents Canada’s Licensed Producers of medical marijuana, has been lobbying the city quite extensively. But these efforts have been ongoing now for some time — why the urgency to crack down now? Again, the answer is not as simple as we’d like it to be.
Cannabis Canada has been providing any media outlet who asks with the following “facts:”
“The legal pot industry got its start in 2014, when Ottawa introduced legislation requiring medical marijuana patients had to buy their product from licensed producers. There are currently 31 companies with licenses, 18 of which are in Ontario.”
The truth is that the legal pot industry started long before 2014. It started in 2001when Health Canada instituted the Medical Marihuana Access Regulations (MMAR) which was replaced by the current Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) regulations. MMAR licenses are still legally recognized as valid due to ongoing litigation, most recently the Allard decision.
The Allard Decision
On Feb. 24, 2016, Justice Phelan of the Supreme Court of Canada in B.C released his decision on the Charter challenge commonly referred to as “The Allard Decision.” Justice Phelan concluded as follows:
“The Plaintiffs’ liberty and security interest are engaged by the access restrictions imposed by the MMPR and that the access restrictions have not been proven to be in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”
About dispensaries, the Court says the following;
“Although dispensaries were not a focus of the parties’ submissions, I find Ms. Shaw’s evidence to be extremely important as dispensaries are at the heart of cannabis access.”
Justice Phelan in his ruling gave Health Canada and the Government of Canada six months to replace MMPR regulations or amend existing MMPR regulations to fall in line with his findings. On March 24 2016, the health minister announced that the government would NOT appeal the decision.
So, here we stand with current regulation being deemed unconstitutional, with new regulations expected to be unveiled by Aug. 24, 2016 and the Mayor of Toronto is asking staff and Toronto Police to enforce an unjust law. The law, the regulations for medicinal marijuana, are still in force until such time as the new regulations are in place, mind you — they are legally defensible, just not morally so.
The law is fluid, and what is legal one day may be illegal the next or vice versa. What does not change is right and wrong, justice and injustice. Sometimes it takes society a very long time to recognize an injustice. Once an injustice is recognized, defence of what was “legal” prior to a determination of justice is morally reprehensible.
So Cannabis Canada lobbies the mayor, the law is only in force until August (when it’s likely access to medical marijuana will expand beyond the current MMPR mail-order) and a 1,000-per-cent markup model will be instituted. The 31 licensed producers are worried about competition, as many hundreds of millions of dollars in future business are at stake — billions once a legal recreational model is brought in.
So, why did the Mayor cross the road? Why is he asking city staff and police to enforce a law that has been deemed unconstitutional? Why is he not recognizing the authority of the Supreme Court or his duty to uphold the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
The money, of course. It was simple after all.
TORONTO – Weed the North.
Queen’s Park turned into a big puff of smoke Saturday afternoon as some 20,000 marijuana activists gathered near the King Edward VII statue, before rallying together and walking in the 18th annual Global Marijuana March through the downtown core, spliffs in hand.
While the federal Liberals made a campaign pledge to legalize marijuana, many of the parade-goers felt like the federal government was dragging its feet.
“Thousands of people are still facing criminal charges,” said the event founder Neev, who refused to give his last name. “It should be legalized, it should be cheaper. It’s so expensive because it’s not legal yet. I appreciate the Liberals wanting to do it right, but the rollout is so slow.”
The Toronto event was one of the 100 marijuana parades scheduled in cities around the world. The crowd, some dressed up in costumes — a man was wearing a Superman bong mascot outfit – peacefully made their way across Bloor St. W., down Yonge St. before heading west on Wellesley St. back towards Queen’s Park, leaving behind them a cloud of smoke.
“Free the weed!” some chanted.
Burlington resident Alison Myrden, 52, joined the march in her wheelchair. She said smoking medicinal marijuana has allowed her to live with less pain while coping with progressive multiple sclerosis – an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system.
“It was the world’s worst pain in my face and head, 24 hours a day,” she explained. “I used to take 32 pills a day, 2,000 mg of morphine a day, heroin, then cocaine. It was 1990 when my doctor recommended medical cannabis. Now, I’m still going strong, but I’ve got a violent pain in my ear right now because I can’t afford a source.”
Michael “Puffdog” Thomas started growing his own cannabis plants in 1974 and now runs a vapour lounge in St. Catharines. He said the network of growing dispensaries in the GTA are at risk of criminalization because the only legal way to get weed right now is by mail through a licensed producer authorized by Health Canada.
“I’m tired of this war. It’s a war against peace,” he said. “Let’s not put people in jail over a plant.”
Group calls on Ottawa to puff $25M into medical marijuana research
TORONTO — A group comprised of doctors, patients, health charities and scientists is urging Ottawa to invest $25 million over the next five years for research into the health effects and potential therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana.
In a report released Wednesday, the Medical Cannabis Research Roundtable highlighted the lack of reliable, peer-reviewed Canadian-based research into marijuana as a potential treatment for a variety of diseases and conditions.
“As our country embarks on a debate about the legalization of recreational marijuana, we should not lose sight of the need to invest in medical science and proper trials to better understand the impacts and effects of medical cannabis,” roundtable chairman Dr. Jason McDougall, a professor of pharmacology and anesthesia at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said in a statement.
“Physicians and patients are left with uncertainty about the potential therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis and particularly the potential to bring relief to those living with chronic pain.”
The group identified three priorities for funding:
— Basic science: To have a better understanding of how medical cannabis affects disease progression, physiological function and is processed by the body.
— Clinical science: Peer-reviewed studies that focus on safety, efficacy, dosing and administration of medical marijuana.
— Health services and policy: Exploring issues such as equitable access to medical cannabis; how to manage and market medical marijuana in the context of legalization; transferring knowledge about the product to health providers and the public; and its social and economic impacts.
The Arthritis Society, a member of the group, also announced the creation of the Medical Cannabis Strategic Operating Grant, an annual commitment of at least $120,000 towards research into the effects of medical marijuana.
The charitable organization is also doubling its commitment to medical cannabis research to $720,000 over the next three years.
“Patients with chronic conditions seeking relief face unfair barriers due to the lack of proper medical research (into cannabis),” said president and CEO Janet Yale.
“The election of a new government that has voiced its support for science and evidence-based policy-making creates an ideal opportunity to commit to the sort of rigorous understanding of medical cannabis that should have occurred long ago.”
From Metro News