B.C. pharmacies will be doling out grass
By Anton Vidgen
Pharmacies in British Columbia could soon be dealing medicinal
marijuana to registered users if a Health Canada pilot project
proves successful — but red tape and legal obstacles
threaten to burn the deal.
“The pilot project cannot begin until after the enabling
regulation comes into effect and further discussions take place
with stakeholders,” said Health Canada spokesperson Aggie
Adamcyzk, adding protocols for the pilot will be developed
over the next several months.
“We’re at the point in time where we’re
examining the range of the proposed changes to marijuana medical
access regulations, with a view to improving the regulatory
framework,” she explained. “Health Canada’s
strategy for the medicinal marijuana program envisions moving
marijuana into the traditional health centre model used for
other medicinal agents in Canada.”
Robert Solomon, a Western law professor, said that if the
federal government chooses to recognize a drug, then it is
important to provide proper access, adding the program’s
slow implementation is drowning in unnecessary legal roadblocks.
“I can’t anticipate how much red tape the government
is going to attach to access — it’s so difficult
to get accepted by government,” he said of the patient
Marijuana advocates cheered the Health Canada initiative,
but said the overall program is still not perfect.
“They’re going in the right direction by placing
it in pharmacies. My issue is with the product itself,” said
Chad Cooke, a spokesperson for the Toronto Compassion Centre,
a not-for-profit group that provides high potency marijuana
to ill people.
Cooke said the government grass, made in Flin Flon, Manitoba,
is low grade and poorly prepared, forcing registered patients
exempt from standard drug legislation to look elsewhere to
ease their pain.
For Ontario to ever have a similar setup, he said the framework
is needed to support the program, but first the government
has to change its attitude on prohibiting the illegal substance.
Until then, the TCC and other groups will continue to deliver
the green, Cooke said.
—with files from Dan Perry