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Pot Law Rulings Haven't Changed Life for Sufferer

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Halifax Herald


Toronto - A series of recent court rulings that have left Canada's marijuana law in limbo isn't providing relief for those with illnesses, say people who need to use the drug for medical reasons.


"Pot possession laws, decriminalization, whatever the government is doing, whatever the courts are doing, is not helping us at all," said William Palmer, an HIV sufferer, who can legally smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes.


"They are still not helping the sick. Where are the priorities here? I don't care if they decriminalize it tomorrow, we need pharmacies that can sell marijuana and we need them now."


Those who have exemptions from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act still have no way to legally procure the drug and don't want to be forced to buy pot on the street.


Doctors are still being pressured by powerful associations not to sign patient declarations that allow marijuana to be legally smoked for medicine. And even a speedy move toward decriminalization won't make a difference.


On Thursday a landmark Superior Court decision declared the current Marijuana Medicinal Access Regulations unconstitutional, giving the government an ultimatum to fix regulations or supply pot.


On Friday, an Ontario judge found there was no law on the books forbidding the possession of small amounts of marijuana, following an earlier decision in Windsor, Ont.


"These decisions are helping the recreational user but for us, for the sick, nothing is being done," Palmer said. "We don't want to turn to the street, we want to buy this like any other medicine - in a pharmacy."


The Canadian Medical Protective Association, which provides malpractice insurance, continues to advise those physicians who are not or do not feel qualified to make assessments about the effects of marijuana to refrain from signing a exemption declaration for a patient.


"That would leave very few physicians in Canada who would have the needed degree of knowledge," the association's executive director Dr. John Gray said. "There haven't been enough trials for us to know what the effects are for someone using marijuana who has a condition like epilepsy."


The Canadian Medical Association is urging the federal government to develop a national drug strategy if it intends to decriminalize marijuana.

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