Health Canada began two days of closed-door talks Wednesday about changes to the controversial medical marijuana law that has faced legal challenges and criticism for being ineffective. But even as meetings get underway in Ottawa, there are concerns Health Canada is on the wrong track with a law that asks doctors to ignore a sworn obligation to protect patients’ health, while forcing patients to go to great lengths to obtain a drug that many say eases their pain.
Canada’s ban on marijuana was effectively upheld when Ontario’s top court struck down the country’s laws related to medicinal pot much to the chagrin of activist groups. In overturning a lower court ruling, the Court of Appeal ruled the trial judge had made numerous errors in striking down the country’s medical pot laws. The Appeal Court found the judge was wrong to interpret an earlier ruling as creating a constitutional right to use medical marijuana. Doctors are allowed to exempt patients from the ban on marijuana, but many physicians refuse to prescribe on the grounds its benefits are not scientifically proven.
A pro-marijuana group lost its legal battle when a federal appellate court ruled that marijuana would remain a Schedule I drug, defined as having no accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse. For years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute for Drug Abuse have made it all but impossible to develop a robust body of research on the medical uses of marijuana. For a muscular agency that combats vicious drug criminals, the DEA acts like a terrified and obstinate toddler when it comes to basic science.
The organisers of a Czech petition for the legalisation of cannabis in medical treatment have asked Prime Minister Petr Necas to support the relevant changes in legislation. The petition committee, including doctors, patients and scientists, recalls that it does not seek the legalisation of marijuana for recreational use. Since its launch on August 16, the petition has been signed by almost 5,000 people.
The Czech Republic already has one of the world’s most liberal approach to recreational drug possession. And it will get more liberal still: beginning next year the government will allow marijuana to be distributed by pharmacies for patients with a prescription. Lawmakers in parliament’s lower house overwhelmingly passed a bill clearing the way for legal, but regulated medical marijuana on December 7.
A group of medical and criminal law experts are moving forward with drafting a plan that would clear marijuana for medicinal use. "There is a consensus between parties in the coalition and with the opposition that making marijuana legal for medical purposes is a good thing," said National Anti-Drug Coordinator Jindřich Vobořil, deputy chairman of the committee drafting the proposal.
More than 10,000 patients who have official government permission consume marijuana in Israel, a number that has swelled dramatically, up from serving just a few hundred patients in 2005. The medical cannabis industry is expanding as well, fuelled by Israel’s strong research sector in medicine and technology – and notably, by government encouragement. Unlike in the United States and much of Europe, the issue inspires almost no controversy among the government and the country’s leadership.
Executive Chairman of Medicanja, Dr Henry Lowe, is urging a spirit of cooperation between government ministries and agencies involved in the development of Jamaica's ganja industry, following the passage of the Decriminalisation Bill.
The Czech Ministry of Health has indicated that it will take marijuana off the list of banned substances and allow it to be prescribed by doctors for its medical effects. “By the end of this year we will submit to parliament an amended law on addictive substances which will move marihuana from the list of banned substances to the list of those which can be prescribed,” Deputy Health Minister Martin Plíšek pledged.
The UK's drug laws are preventing scientists from carrying out vital research to unlock our understanding of the brain and find new treatments for conditions such as depression and Parkinson's disease, according to Professor David Nutt, a leading neuroscientist and former government drug adviser. "Things are actually getting worse," said Nutt, referring to the restrictions placed on research.
Justice Minister Mark Golding has said consideration is being given to reforming the law relating to ganja in Jamaica to allow its use, but within certain parameters. Those boundaries include possession of marijuana for medical use, scientific research, religious purposes, and possession of small amounts of ganja (that is amounts of up to two ounces) for recreational use. It is also considering permitting the smoking of ganja in private places.
Half a century ago, Hebrew University Prof. Raphael Mechoulam isolated and synthesized THC, the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. By 1963, Mechoulam and his research partners had revealed the structure of cannabidiol (CBD), a key ingredient in cannabis. By the following year they had isolated THC for the first time, established its structure and synthesized it.
A French man suffering from a muscular disease since childhood had his request to be given the right to use cannabis for medicinal reasons rejected by a French court. To make matters worse he was fined €300 for possession. “I’ve been condemned – my disease is incurable, and only cannabis can give me any relief,” Dominique Loumachi told French TV TF1, before the verdict.
According to La Vie Eco, the Istiqlal Party has recently proposed a draft law to decriminalize and regulate the cultivation of cannabis for medical and pharmaceutical ends. The Istiqlal Party thus becomes the first party to take this issue to the parliament. The objective is to delimit the cultivation of cannabis to certain regions, namely Al Hoceima, Chaouen, Tétouan, Ouezzane and Taounate. Beyond these regions, the cultivation of this plant will be prohibited.
Czech health experts are in favor of allowing medical marijuana to be prescribed for a wide range of conditions with home grown marijuana in the Czech Republic used to compliment imports, according to a working group paving the way for medical marijuana to be offered for the first time in the country. The head of the working group, Tomáš Zima, who is rector of the medical faculty at Prague’s Charles University, initially indicated that the Czech Republic would favor imports alone when expected legal changes allowing marijuana to be prescribed for patients are completed.
A government expert group is adding finishing touches to new draft legislation proposing the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. While still banning patients from growing medical cannabis on their own, the amended legislation allows importing as well as the cultivation of medical hemp by local private companies under strict state supervision. The committee, whose existence was prompted by a petition initiated earlier this year by doctors, researchers and patients and is supported by the chairwoman of the lower house of Parliament, is supposed to submit the final draft proposal to the Prime Minister in about a week’s time.