Friday, June 12, 2015

UPDATED: I'm Outraged Over Her Outrage

Playing to her party's base, Health Minister Rona Ambrose yesterday expressed "outrage" over the Supreme Court's unanimous decision to make it legal for medical marijuana users to ingest their pot in any manner they see fit, be it oils, tinctures, cookies, or brownies. Given her well-demonstrated ineptitude in ensuring that Health Canada protect the health of Canadians, (apparently preferring to protect the health of pharmaceuticals' profits), something about which I have written at length on this blog, the integrity of yesterday's partisan denunciation of the court's decision must surely be called into question:

In the interests, as they say, of full disclosure, I do have a personal interest in this subject. My wife, for the past few years, suffered intractable and debilitating pain, pain that was relieved neither by over-the-counter medications nor narcotic painkillers. Happily, after recent surgery, most of that pain should be a thing of the past. Her suffering, however, was a disillusioning revelation to both of us; we had always assumed that most pain could be managed as long as doctors were willing to prescribe the necessary amounts of medication. This is not the case.

While I cannot say for certain that medical pot would have provided the sought-after relief, (and truth be told, my wife did not ask her doctor if he would prescribe it), I became resentful over two things: the fact that her access to it would have depended upon her doctor's beliefs and values, and the fact that Health Canada forbade the ingestion of medical pot in all forms except its dried form, which must be smoked or vaporized. Owing to a lung condition that she has, my wife would thus have been unable to use it in that form. Until yesterday's ruling, she would have been deemed a criminal.

Rona Ambrose asserts that research needs to be done to back up anecdotal claims of pot's medicinal benefits. She is surely being disingenuous here, given that big pharma will not undertake costly research into a substance that they cannot patent, and U.S,. medical research is severely circumscribed due to cannabis being listing as a Schedule 1 drug, reserved for the most dangerous of substances, right up there with heroin. Legal access is therefore difficult to obtain. Fortunately, in some parts of the world, enlighted attitudes coupled with compassion mean research is ramping up.

Beyond its benefits for pain relief, there are many claims to its benefits in treating intractable epilepsy:

And some in the medical community are quite receptive to the possibilities. Click here to play the clip.

If you want to read more about the above program and one mother's tireless battle to legally bring in a tincture from Colorado to her home state of Virginia to treat her saughter, click here. or watch the full program upon which the above is excerpted here. I watched the program when it aired, a good piece of journalism that one would have to be pretty hard-hearted not to be moved by.

Rona Ambose's obduracy of spirit, evidenced in her denunciation of the Supreme Court decision, is unacceptable and a gross insult to all who seek wider access to a medicine that may help them. The Harper regime's shameful trumping of ideology over compassion has no place in the Canada I know and live.

UPDATE: Even if you lack the time or the inclination to watch the Dateline program I described above, go to the 28 minute mark where you will see a vet suffering from PTSD who moved to Coloradeo to have access to marijuana. He displays all of the medications he was prescribed, which he says made him feel like a zombie, that he was able to dispose of once he started using cannabis to treat his condition. It is a powerful visual of what is at stake for the pharmaceuticals and suggests why they are likely a powerful force against widening marijuana's use.


  1. Have U explored #SafetyCode6 at HealthCanada and the complete abandonment
    of the precautionary principle? Definitely worth your analysis. So crazy in
    terms of public-health epidemic that a parliamentary committee delivered a
    public spanking (for all the good that will do in a #CPC gov.....).
    Horrendous and the brain cancer epidemic has begun.....

    1. hanks for the link, Jan. Having lost a brother-in-law to brain cancer several years ago sensitized me to this issue. he was a heavy cell-phone user, and once more, in my view, Health Canada has failed to act in the public interest in issuing appropriate cautions about cellphone use.

      Like its regulation of pharmaceuticals, Health Canada seems more interested in protecting the commercial interests of the telecommunications industry at the possible expense of Canadians' health.

  2. It's simple: the Cons think they're above the law.
    When will Canadians understand this and turf them from office? Hopefully, this October.

  3. Lorne, we are confronted today with a major democratic deficit in our country. Our democratic freedom and our liberal democracy are in danger, not from without but from within. al Qaeda, ISIS and all that are being used as a pretext for consolidation of state power over the individual by those who claim to represent us. This is in keeping with the general spread of illiberal democracy.

    Most people who support either of the main opposition parties are oblivious to this peril. They seem to believe that simply being other than Conservative is tantamount to being progressive. They don't understand that neoliberalism has become the default operating system of all three parties or that it inevitably leads to illiberal democracy.

    Young Trudeau has the worst instincts of Ignatieff and none of the fiery commitment to democracy that drove his father to implement the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bad as things are today imagine how much worse our democracy would have fared, what our country would be like today, if it hadn't been for the restraining power of the Charter?

    These days I find myself exploring opportunities for civil disobedience. Doing what we're doing now - writing and bitching - is little more than preaching to the converted. What we need are acts of open resistance.

    Several years ago, during the worst of the Bush/Cheney years, I crossed paths with a courageous American woman, who went by the name "The Freeway Blogger." You and your readers should check out her website: All these years later she's still going strong, defiant as ever. On the freeways of her home turf of southern California she's able to reach millions of people every day with her short, pointed messages. Given the gridlock you might say she has the largest, captive audience on the planet.

    We need to follow her example. There'll be nothing for us from Mulcair or Trudeau. Those two are already in the bag to neoliberalism. Why follow them down that path?

    1. You have all too accurately described the current state of our democracy, Mound. Thanks for the link; I will certainly check it out.

      I agree that our blogging is likely preaching to the converted for the most part, but on the other hand, one never knows when an idea advanced or reproduced through blogging may reach someone for whom it might make a difference, leading to results that we neither expect nor imagine. As well, as long as the voice is protest is alive, the neoliberals will not rest. They seem to want to quash all dissenting views. There was a column in today's Star by Tim harper that epitomizes the remorseless and vindictive nature of the current regime in Ottawa:

      As for acts of civil disobedience, that is one more reason to seek the repeal of Bill C-51 after the next election. Its provisions are far too dangerous for those seduced by the allure of power.

  4. Lorne, Rona Ambrose's statement was totally nonsensical. She simply made a fool of herself. As you know that she accused Supreme Court to take on legislative function.

    Government rep on Power and Politics made a bigger ass of himself. He repeated Ambrose’s statement and came across as a buffoon to defend his/Amrose’s position.

    I understand alcohol lobby does not want marijuana to be legal as it will cut into their sales. Apparently alcohol is a lot more dangerous to human health than marijuana.

    1. I watched the Con rep as well on P&P, LD. I agree with your analysis. In addition to the alcohol lobby, I suspect medical pot is seen as a real threat to the pharmaceuticals. In the Dateline program I referenced in my post, there is a wonderful scene where a vet suffering from PTSD who uses pot shows what he disposed of once he started using it: he empties a bagful of so-called legitimate drugs, none of which really helped him. Such must strike terror in the world of big pharma.

  5. Thank goodness for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and The Supreme Court Lorne. The man that Harper has a pathological hatred for who created the Charter of Rights and Freedom, has through the supreme Court, deemed almost all of his legislation unconstitutional. Thank goodness for Pierre Trudeau, and his obsession with the concept of justice. Now we have a PM who violates the rule of law almost daily. Rona Ambrose and the CONs do not belong anywhere near a civilized country let alone being politically in charge of it. It's like their trying to fly a super sonic jet with propellors. Their attempt to impose their evangelical code of ethics and Neo-liberal agenda on Canadians is appalling! My partner was diagnosed with 4th stage cancer 10 yrs ago. He was in a lot of pain. We had a very progessive doctor though, who wrote him a prescription for as much marijuana and hash as he wanted and needed. It didn't take all the pain away, but it did take away a fair amount and made his final days livable.If the CONs had there way, no one would be allowed to smoke marijuana, sick or otherwise. Rona Ambrose is outraged over a court decision whose judges voted 7 to 0 that Canadians should have a right to access any type of medical marijuana they need. That Canadians should not have to suffer, because all they're allowed to have is dry marijuana. I actually find this government scary.

    1. We can only hope, Pamela, that this puritanical, judgmental and exclusionary regime is consigned to history after the next election. I am confident that will happen IF Canadians rediscover the both their self-respect and the traditions that have made Canada the special country it has always been.

  6. Considering there has never been a shortage of outrage, moral objections and supposedly ratified legislation condemning the plant and criminalizing Canadians that use or produce cannabis, it is both ironic and, quite frankly, thoroughly disturbing that there has never been any objection, concern or questions put forth regarding how (or why) an already-regulated Proprietary or Patented Medicines Act commodity was not specified when consolidated by the House of Commons when it was passed in 1923 – as well as why “There is a new drug in the schedule.” was replaced with “cannabis indica” by the time it was reviewed by the Senate only a few weeks later.

    1. A very interesting point, Wayne. The history of cannabis seems particularly fraught when it comes to how legislators have dealt with it.


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