Friday, February 1, 2013

Harper and Medical Marijuana

As my policy-analyst son has made abundantly clear to me, government policy formulation does not take place in a vacuum. Much time and deliberation goes into the devising of new policies or the revising of old ones. Like the butterfly effect, every change or innovation brings with it both anticipated and unanticipated results. The job of government bureaucrats is to minimize the latter.

However, I do have to wonder how much deliberation and due diligence comprise policy-making in the Harper government. We are told, for example, in pronouncements that smack more of ideology than of measured cogitation, that 'get tough on crime' legislation is both demanded by and essential for the Canadian populace. We are told of the necessity of building new superprisons. We are told that danger lurks everywhere within our midst, all of this within the larger context of falling crime rates and an aging populations. But, as journalist H.L Menken once observed.

“No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

Unfortunately, the scant attention to pesky details and the preoccupation with demagogic manipulation characteristic of our current federal regime do have some unfortunate consequences, most especially experienced by those with the least power in our society. In his column today, The Star's Joe Fiorito, a man of uncommon empathy, profiles three people, all of whom are licensed to use medical marijuana for their rather dire conditions but who, thanks to pending changes in federal regulations, will no longer be able to grow the drug nor access it except through a series of big private farms to grow and sell weed to all those Canadians who require it for medical reasons.

While those of a puritanical mindset may be dubious of medical marijuana claims, there is much anecdotal evidence attesting to its efficacy. Fiorito profiles three such beneficiaries:

- Erin broke her back twice in separate injuries and she lives in constant pain; she is licensed to possess and to grow; she uses marijuana as a pain reliever.

- Stu — he has significant arthritis, and has banged himself up pretty badly over the years on his motorcycle, or rather, off it — is a designated grower and a medical marijuana user.

- Jim has AIDS. He was diagnosed 30 years ago and takes the modern daily cocktail of pills and drugs to stay alive; the only way he can keep his appetite up is with marijuana; he, too, is a licensed user.

Each of the above uses very a high daily dose of the herb to treat their conditions, and none of the above will be able to afford the much higher costs that will be incurred through the purchase of their product from the private farms slated to come on stream in March 2014, the same time the previous permissions attending those who currently hold licenses are rendered invalid.

Just another example, I suspect, of people falling through the cracks owing to a government concerned more with the pursuit of ideology than it is with the well-being of the public it claims to serve.


  1. I think your son was speaking in the context of responsible government. You should read Ray Grigg's expose on Harper in the Common Sense Canadian.

    Harper defines Canadian policy very much in a vacuum in which science, fact and knowledge have been sucked out and replaced with the nothingness of fundamentalist belief. His minions are charged with the alchemist's chore of transforming nothing into something.

  2. Nicely-expressed, Mound. I find myself in complete agreement with your observations. I'll be sure to check out your link.