There are so many different issues tied up in the story of marijuana, it can be really confusing. From the debate over whether to decriminalize or legalize it, to whether it should be used for medical purposes, and where to put medical grow ops, there are so many complex sides to the issue.
On CBC last week, I heard a BC resident on a call-in show say that there must be something inherently wrong with growing marijuana, because buildings with illegal grow ops are automatically condemned. Health Canada’s recent statement also cites fire and toxic mould hazards as risks with patients growing their own marijuana. But these risks are not inherent with growing a plant, or with a properly regulated growing system, which many medical marijuana patients have invested in over recent years. Those risks are from growing it illegally or improperly.
Sure, if you buy a house and close off the windows, augment the electrical system yourself and start growing a bunch of marijuana, you might get mould growing in your carpets and insulation, and you might be at risk of electrical fires. But if you are doing it legally, you are probably not storing your plants on carpet, and you probably would have hired a certified electrician to do the electrical work.
The fact that some bureaucrat somewhere decided it was easier to condemn a building where an illegal grow op had been than to actually inspect the building to see if there is anything wrong with it – that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the plant that was grown. You might have the same issues if you tried to mass produce tomatoes in your house. But you wouldn’t do that, you don’t need to hide your tomatoes, because they are legal.
It bothers me that Health Canada is pointing out it only started the medical marijuana program in 2001 because the courts directed it to. It says it does not endorse the use of marijuana, and reminds Canadians it is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada, even though the courts said we have a constitutional right to cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
And it bothers me that the federal government could make this last minute change to the old medical marijuana regulations to require patients destroy their medicine, and to require Health Canada to threaten patients with sharing their medical information with the police. I am glad the court granted the injunction to let patients continue to grow and use their marijuana, and I will be watching the court case with interest.
But what I really wish is that the Canadian and American governments would make it easier to study cannabis for medical purposes. Our friend Ed (not his real name) says one of the government’s objections to this injunction was that there is no proof there is any difference in effectiveness between strains of cannabis. There is lots of anecdotal proof, but that is not good enough for the government, and there isn’t even enough scientific proof that cannabis is an effective treatment for anything, because the governments won’t ok the tests.
As an example, a researcher at the University of Arizona finally got the ok last week from the American Public Health Service to study cannabis on war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Suzanne Sisley has had the ok from the Food and Drug Administration since 2011 to do a 10-week study on 50 veterans with moderate to severe PTSD symptoms, using marijuana from the US government’s only marijuana farm. That is a small, relatively straight forward experiment. But she still needs the ok from the Drug Enforcement Administration. There is no word yet on how long it will take to get the ok from the DEA.
And really, if the Canadian and American governments are so sure cannabis is not medicinal, then let the research projects happen. Then we’ll all know.