Cannabis Report Helpful

By N.j. Tapiero, Ottawa Citizen

Re: The burden of no proof, Oct. 2.

Sharon Kirkey’s series reporting on the use of medical cannabis for treatment of chronic pain and the difficulties patients face is especially topical given the current juncture at which medical cannabis now stands in this country.

In my work over a decade at a medical cannabis dispensary, I have heard many stories, similar to Kurt Gengenbach’s, of the obstacles encountered by patients seeking medical cannabis information, access and treatment many times.

Gengenbach’s situation highlights several separate but related issues: the stigma and lack of awareness of the efficacy and applications of medical cannabis undercuts its acceptance as a legitimate medicine and form of treatment; doctors and other care providers are sometimes unable or unwilling to support patients interested in pursuing this treatment option; patients pay out of pocket for their medical cannabis since there is no Drug Identification Number (DIN) and therefore not covered by provincial health care; and access to medical cannabis for many Canadian patients and their caregivers remains very difficult.

Our best opportunity to resolve many of these issues lies in the current review of the federal Medical Marijuana Access Program (MMAP) now underway through Health Canada. The need is great, and the advantages are clear: medical cannabis improves the quality of life for thousands of Canadians with chronic and debilitating illnesses, with benefits extending to their families, care providers and society at large.

N.J. Tapiero,
Toronto, Director, Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD)
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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September 2011 CAMCD Update

In this update:

1) Health Canada and Dispensaries Meet over Roundtables
2) Government Relations Campaign Funding Appeal
3) CAMCD’s Standards
4) Bill C-10 Introduced

1) Health Canada and Dispensaries Meet over Roundtables

On Sept. 7, CAMCD, along with over 15 BC based medical cannabis dispensaries, took part in the second Health Canada roundtable discussing the proposed changes to the MMAP. You can read our press release by clicking here.

On Sept. 15 CAMCD, along with over 15 Ontario based medical cannabis dispensaries, took part in the third Health Canada roundtable discussing the proposed changes to the MMAP. You can read our press release by clicking here.

The timeline for this process is as follows. After the pre-consultative stage (which is happening now), a draft of regulations will be published in Gazette I and then there will be a consultation period. After any further amendments are made, the final regulations will then be published in Gazette II estimated to be by the end of 2013. There will be a transition period until the new program is implemented in 2014 (i.e. until a new supply is established). Up until that time it is business as usual – Health Canada has hired 30 more staff for the program and are hiring 30 more in the near future.

Health Canada has received over 2000 email responses to their proposed amendment. They are currently meeting with dispensaries, provinces/territories, physician groups, law enforcement and municipalities over September and October. They will be providing a summary of these consultation results at some point. We want to note that dispensaries have never before been officially regarded as stakeholders.

CAMCD spent some time advocating for more meaningful consultation with patients, who are the key stakeholders. Health Canada reps expressed that it was difficult to have face to face meetings with 11,000 patients in their program (and others not in their program). We encouraged them to try.

We also spoke about PPL/DPL. They heard from everyone strong support to keep the PPL as well as DPL. . The main issue, besides the funds patients and their DG’s have invested in production, is cost to patients. We acknowledge problems of abuse of the system and offered suggestions on how to address those without creating an adverse impact on patients.

Regarding access, we talked about the imperative for cost coverage as a key component of access, as well as the inclusion of health care practitioners other than physicians, and dispensary services (access to education, support, different cannabis strains and products) as important aspects for a viable program that meets patients’ needs.

CAMCD believes we should make the most out of the pre-consultative process – this is really the only stage at which we can have any meaningful input. The Health Canada reps working on the amendments are engaging in a thorough process and CAMCD believes they have the intention of drafting the best set of regulations that they can.

The Health Canada reps have a mind to the nitty gritty of how the program would work on their end on a practical level, because that is what the government is interested in. We need to bring them our perspective and CAMCD is doing so in an organized fashion.

We are pleased that Health Canada is recognizing dispensaries as legitimate stakeholders and we look forward to continuing to provide our expertise in this process. We strongly believe that our Standards and Certification process is the ideal way to transition the medical cannabis sector from a legal grey zone into the MMAP’s regulatory framework.

2) Government Relations Campaign Funding Appeal

CAMCD has raised enough funds to continue our government relations campaign until Oct. 31. We need your help to continue our campaign until the end of 2011 and into the new year. CAMCD has retained a top government relations firm to aid us in developing relationships with Health Canada and the Conservative Government. We believe that the value of this strategy has already become evident. It is important that we sustain our government relations campaign over the next 18 month period while Health Canada is reforming the MMAP, if we are to have the concerns of patients and their providers meaningfully heard and addressed.

We need to raise $9 000/month on top of current contributions to continue this campaign. The funds go towards retaining our government relations specialists, travel to Ottawa, and expenses incurred preparing presentations and documents. While this figure may seem large, between the combined support of patients and their providers, it is definitely within reach, as CAMCD has shown over the past 3 months. If 15 dispensaries were to contribute $600 per month, we would be able to easily sustain this campaign. Likewise, many small donations of $5 will add up quickly and fill funding gaps that exist.

We greatly appreciate any funding that our supporters can provide. Your donation can make a large impact on improving medical cannabis access for patients in Canada.

To make a donation, please either contact us or click the “support us” button to donate via PayPal.

3) CAMCD’s Standards

CAMCD’s Standards document is progressing well. We are aiming to launch the Standards in January of 2012 and begin providing applications to dispensaries. Following the application process, if the dispensary is Certified based on CAMCD’s Standards, it is also able to join CAMCD as a member if desired. We very much are looking forward to this new phase of CAMCD and having our colleagues in the industry join the organization and collaborate on this work with us. We believe that CAMCD’s Standards will result in consistent high quality patient care across the country, and increased credibility and acceptance of dispensaries.

4) Bill C-10 Introduced

The Conservative Government introduced Bill C-10 in the House of Commons on Sept. 20 2011. CAMCD is concerned about the impacts that this bill may have on patients and their providers. You can read our press release by clicking here.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!


the volunteers at CAMCD

Dispensaries demand pot reforms


A national medical marijuana dispensary [association] is proposing provincial health care insurance providers could help Health Canada save money in dispensing the drug.

In a meeting with Health Canada officials in Vancouver Wednesday, the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries proposed, among the insurance arrangements, the dispensaries replace the current supplier.

The meeting was arranged after an April ruling from the Ontario Superior Court that ordered the national health authority to make its medical marijuana program more accessible.
Click here to find out more!

“As it currently stands, patients are either able to produce their own cannabis, have somebody grow it for them, or purchase from Health Canada’s sole contract supplier,” said Rielle Capler, the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries spokeswoman.

Results and recommendations from Health Canada are expected next year.

August 2011 CAMCD Update

In this update:

1) Welcome!
2) Dispensaries are Indispensable! National Endorsement Campaign
3) Health Canada’s Proposed Changes to the Marihuana Medical Access Program (MMAP)
4) Funding CAMCD’s Campaigns

1) Welcome!

Welcome to the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries supporter email list. You have requested to be added to this list to receive monthly updates from CAMCD. We thank you for your continued support. If you ever wish to be removed from this list, please send an email with the subject “Unsubscribe” to “”.

2) Dispensaries are Indispensable! National Endorsement Campaign

In response to Health Canada’s proposed changes to the MMAR, the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) is engaged in a National Endorsement Campaign in collaboration with dispensaries across Canada. The purpose of this campaign is to have the valuable services provided by dispensaries endorsed by patients across Canada. We need to make it clear that it’s time for Medical Cannabis Dispensaries to be recognized within the legal framework for accessing this important medicine!

For more information and to sign the endorsement, please click here:

3) Health Canada Proposed Changes to the MMAP

CAMCD’s response to Health Canada’s proposed changes to the MMAR got great coverage in the media! We successfully put both dispensary and patient concerns front and centre, including Mr. Greenblatt’s question to the Hon. Min. of Health, Leona Aglukkaq on CBC’s Power and Politics, regarding why the PPL model was being eliminated.

We believe that our ability to have a rapid response, national representation, and generate a cohesive message that benefits the medical cannabis sector as a whole is a testament to the need for a national membership-based medical cannabis dispensary association. When we work on and fund projects together, we can have a much larger impact than we can have on our own.

Our full submission to Health Canada regarding the proposed amendments to the MMAP is published here:

Our press release issued following the first roundtable meeting with dispensaries concerning the proposed amendments to the MMAP is available here:

4) Funding CAMCD’s Campaigns

In addition to the “Dispensaries are Indispensable” Campaing, CAMCD is currently focused on 3 ongoing campaigns: Certification, Integration, and Legislation.

We are off to a great start, and there is still much work to be done. This takes time and energy: CAMCD’s directors and advisory board have been putting in lots of their time and energy to these efforts and we are looking forward to hiring some qualified staff to help out. It also takes financial support: the directors of CAMCD and the dispensaries they are affiliated with have contributed generously to these endeavors, as have other supporting dispensaries, individuals and organizations.

This is a historic time in the legitimization of medical cannabis in Canada and it’s crucial that we make the most of any opportunities as they arise.

Currently we need to raise funds towards:

Running the “Dispensaries are Indispensable!” campaign and expanding it to health care organizations and doctors
Developing the Standards document and Certification process
Continuing to retain our lobbyists in Ottawa to support our advocacy efforts in the interests of dispensaries and patients
Engaging in government relations – which will incur some travel and related expenses
Syndicating press releases to ensure wide coverage
Continuing to work on our website (thanks to the generous support of Cannamedia)

We greatly appreciate any funding that our supporters can provide. Your donation can make a large impact on improving medical cannabis access for patients in Canada.

To make a donation, please either contact us ( or donate via PayPal.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!


the volunteers at CAMCD

Days of homegrown medicinal pot could be numbered

By Amy Minsky, Postmedia News

The federal government is expected to announce new rules for growing medical marijuana which would make it so only licensed growers would be permitted to cultivate and distribute it.

The federal government is expected to announce new rules for growing medical marijuana which would make it so only licensed growers would be permitted to cultivate and distribute it.
Photograph by: Submitted, RCMP

OTTAWA — The federal government is expected to announce new rules for growing medical marijuana which would make it so only licensed growers would be permitted to cultivate and distribute it.

The move would eliminate individual and private growers from the current system, whereby eligible people apply to Health Canada which then issues the licence.

People in the dispensing community who have been hearing about the impending change say it’s unwelcome, and will do more harm than good.

“By privatizing the industry, they’ll effectively be removing the rights of medical cannabis patients to produce their own cannabis,” said Adam Greenblatt, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. “That’s problematic because you have patients who spend many years trying to find the variety that works for them, and also because some patients have invested a lot of money in growing supplies.”

A spokesman for the health minister said they will begin consulting on new rules in the “near future.” Steve Outhouse wouldn’t give specifics about any changes, but said the rules “will balance patient access to medical marijuana while strengthening public safety.”

Recently, mayors and councillors across the country have been complaining, saying the current system poses dangers when growers don’t follow local electrical, health and safety bylaws.

At the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference earlier this month, delegates approved a resolution to ask that Health Canada issue licences only to growers who have already received a licence from their respective municipality.

In March, the mayors of two towns in southern British Columbia wrote to Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, saying too many licences are floating around, making it impossible for municipalities to know who is licensed and whether those growers are operating safely. The mayors of Langley, B.C. and the Township of Langley, B.C. also wrote that they knew “based on actual cases, that there is significant misuse of many licences and the volume of product produced often exceeds an individual’s personal requirement.”

Late last month, RCMP drug investigators in B.C. arrested three men and seized a helicopter after raiding a Maple Ridge property growing almost seven times more pot than its two medical marijuana licences permitted. The Federal Drug Enforcement Branch found 1,490 plants instead of the 220 permitted by two licences provided by Health Canada to grow medical pot.
© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

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Activists establish national regulator for pot dispensaries

By Laura Baziuk, Postmedia News June 1, 2011

OTTAWA — Francois Arcand says he doesn’t want gravely ill people to think of medical marijuana as their last hope because of all the red tape that surrounds it.

The 42 year old had to first find a doctor who would help him get a Health Canada license to use marijuana to ease his epilepsy. Then he waited a year for approval.

Meanwhile, the Ottawa man found quicker and more personalized relief at a cannabis dispensary.

“Cannabis should have been my frontline therapy and not a desperate last resort,” Arcand said, adding that Health Canada needs to issue more licences.

Arcand said he supported calls in Ottawa on Tuesday by medical marijuana advocates for the federal government to legalize pot dispensaries, as activists launched a national organization to help regulate the businesses.

“Dispensaries should be legally regulated and recognized as a legitimate health-care service,” said Rade Kovacevic, co-founder of the new Canadian Association of Medical Dispensaries.

“We are asking the government to recognize our experience and to work with us to develop a regulatory framework for medical cannabis.”

The non-profit association aims to oversee the country’s estimated 30 dispensaries, which sell a range of cannabis products and strains to buyers who show a doctor’s note and meet other requirements.

Staff plan to accredit the dispensaries — many of which are currently set up as illegal storefronts — in areas such as patient eligibility, dispensing practices, quality of cannabis and community safety, with a goal of ensuring high standards of care.

Marijuana remains illegal in Canada, but residents suffering from illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy can apply to use pot as supplied by Health Canada’s growers or a licensed individual grower.

Marc-Boris St. Maurice, who founded the association and operates a compassion club in Montreal, said dispensaries provide shorter wait times for registration than Health Canada, as well as one-on-one consultations and marijuana products that don’t have to be smoked.

More doctors are referring patients to cannabis dispensaries over Health Canada, advocate and health-care administrator Rielle Capler added.

A Health Canada spokesman said the ministry is currently considering measures to reform its medical marijuana program and its regulations, but reiterated that it does not license compassion clubs or dispensaries.

“Any changes to the program will balance the need to provide reasonable legal access to this controlled substance with the government’s responsibility to regulate it,” the spokesman said in an email.

Kovacevic, who founded a dispensary in Guelph, Ont., pointed to the half-dozen court rulings, the most recent in Ontario, which have found Health Canada’s medical marijuana program to be unconstitutional.

In April, the Ontario Superior Court struck down two key pieces of legislation that prohibit the possession and production of pot after a constitutional challenge by a medical marijuana user. The judge has suspended the ruling until mid-July so the federal government can make its next move.

Kovacevic said dispensaries have been filling the void in supply more efficiently and cost-effectively, and that the association wants to work with law enforcement, government and health-care groups to legalize the service.

“The Canadian government should not be in the business of selling marijuana. We want to relieve them of this burden,” said Kovacevic. “We have over a decade of experience and actually predate the Health Canada system by five years. We can provide a much better quality service.”
© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

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Canadian medicinal marijuana advocates form national association

By Matthew Burrows, May 31, 2011

A group of medicinal marijuana advocates from across the country says Health Canada’s program is inadequate, makes patients wait too long, provides no education or support resources, and offers only one strain of Indica.

Today (May 31) in Ottawa, they launched the Canadian Association of Medicinal Cannabis Dispensaries.

A CAMCD news release issued following the media conference states that the association, which has nine founding directors, has been established to ensure consistently high-quality patient care is available across the country. CAMCD is also creating a certification system for dispensaries as a solution to the Health Canada program they claim has “failed”.

In the same release, CAMCD notes that Health Canada’s medical marijuana program was recently dealt another critical setback in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in April. Seven court cases to date have found the federal program constitutionally inadequate during its decade of operation, CAMCD has claimed.

“Our innovative service delivery model has been successful for 15 years,” Rade Kovacevic, a founding director of CAMCD from the Medical Cannabis Centre of Guelph, stated in the release. “Now is a crucial time to come together to create a nationwide system to ensure the highest standard of care for patients. Together the nine founding directors and advisory board members represent over 20,000 patients who access dispensaries.”

Another founding director is Jeet-Kei Leung, communications coordinator for the B.C. Compassion Club Society. The Commercial Drive-based society is listed alongside other organizations with founding directors at CAMCD: Vancouver Dispensary Society, Vancouver Island Compassion Society in Victoria, Medical Cannabis Centre of Guelph, MedCannAccess in Toronto, Cannabis As Living Medicine in Toronto, Toronto Compassion Centre, Medical Cannabis Access Society in Montreal, and Montreal Compassion Center.

Création d’un réseau national pour la marijuana médicale


Pour la première fois au Canada, un réseau national des dispensaires de cannabis est établi.

L’Association canadienne de dispensaires de cannabis médical, un organisme à but non lucratif, permettra à ces dispensaires d’agir en groupe et de faire face ensemble aux enjeux qui affectent le paysage du cannabis médical.

«L’efficacité de la marijuana médicale n’étant plus à justifier, il fallait maintenant une uniformisation des pratiques de ces établissements», souligne Marc-Boris St-Maurice, directeur du Centre Compassion de Montréal et membre du réseau. Le but de celui-ci est aussi de promouvoir une approche réglementée et intégrée à la communauté afin d’offrir le meilleur niveau de soins aux patients.

Et sur le plan politique, où en est le dialogue avec le gouvernement conservateur? «Nous ne connaissons pas encore les revendications du nouveau gouvernement, en tout cas nous sommes ouverts, nous voulons travailler avec eux», affirme le directeur.

Plus de 20 000 patients souffrant notamment de VIH/SIDA, hépatite, cancer, arthrite, sclérose en plaques, anxiété et dépression sont soignés dans ces dispensaires. D’après le Centre Compassion de Montréal, le cannabis pourrait soulager une variété de symptômes comme les nausées, la perte d’appétit, les douleurs chroniques, les spasmes musculaires et les tensions réduisant la mobilité physique. Le cannabis contribuerait aussi à augmenter le sentiment de bien-être général.

Depuis 15 ans déjà, des dispensaires de cannabis, aussi connus sous le nom de clubs compassion, fournissent de la marijuana médicale, pour répondre aux besoins de Canadiens gravement malades.–creation-d-un-reseau-national-pour-la-marijuana-medicale

Lobby group wants government out of medical marijuana business

by BJ Siekierski

The Canadian government shouldn’t be in the business of selling marijuana, a new non-profit organization calling itself the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) announced at a press conference on Tuesday.

The new association hopes a nation-wide dispensary program will eventually replace the medical marijuana access program currently run by Health Canada. Because to date, it argues, the government-run system has been ineffective.

Courts have also supported this opinion, said CAMCD director Rade Kovacevic.

“Over the last decade, the courts have consistently ruled that the federal government’s medical marijuana program is not meeting patients’ needs,” Kovacevic says. “The most recent case — on April 11 in Ontario Superior Court — once again found the government’s program unconstitutional.”

Dispensaries, he continued, have been filling that void.

The group says that Health Canada’s medical marijuana access program has many inefficiencies including: wait times of up to nine months, as compared to two to 10 days for dispensaries; a 33-page form, as opposed to a one- to eight-page form at dispensaries; and a lack of non-smoking options, such as baked goods, butters, and oils.

The CAMCD statistics show that since Canada’s first dispensary opened in Vancouver in 1997, more than 5,000 doctors have referred more than 20,000 patients to dispensaries. This includes patients with conditions including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, cancer, arthritis, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis.

The government-run medical marijuana program has, as of January 10, 2010, served 4,884 patients referred by 2,373 doctors, the group said.

The CAMCD directorate, which also included co-president Marc-Boris St-Maurice and board member Rielle Capler, said it wants to project a professional image that will it to better negotiate a “legal grey zone.”

“We will be inviting input from law enforcement, patient and health-care provider groups, different levels of government, and other stakeholders, to seize this opportunity in regulating medical cannabis dispensaries,” Kovacevic said.

Together, they also stressed the positive economic benefits a switch to dispensary distribution would have in terms of job creation and reduced health-care costs, since it would continue to come at “no cost to taxpayers.”

In terms of approaching political parties, however, spokesperson Adam Greenblatt told iPolitics they don’t want to make it a partisan issue; the goal is to help those in need, not to start an ideological battle.

Throughout the press conference, the group frequently used the word “medication” instead of saying medical marijuana.

The federal government doesn’t sell Prozac or aspirin, St-Maurice said.

“There’s no reason why they should be the ones in charge of distributing this product.”

© 2011 iPolitics Inc.

Création d’une association canadienne de dispensaires

MONTRÉAL – Les dispensaires de cannabis médical du Canada, connus aussi sous le nom de Clubs compassion, forment désormais une association nationale et promettent des normes standardisées pour la consommation de marijuana à titre de médicament.

La création de l’Association canadienne de dispensaires de cannabis médical a été annoncée lundi dans une salle de presse du parlement fédéral à Ottawa par les représentants de neuf centres de service urbains (trois à Vancouver, trois Toronto, deux à Montréal et un à Guelph, en Ontario).

«Les dispensaires devraient être réglementés légalement et reconnus comme des services de santé légitimes», a déclaré Marc-Boris St-Maurice, directeur du Centre Compassion Montréal, ouvert depuis 1999.

«Nous voulons libérer le gouvernement de ce fardeau, a poursuivi M. St-Maurice, nos dispensaires sont un modèle viable pour livrer des soins de façon plus économique, offrant une meilleure qualité de médicament, un meilleur appui aux patients, ainsi que la solution à toutes les causes en litige.»

La nouvelle association pancanadienne en faveur du cannabis médical au Canada qualifie de «raté» le programme existant de Santé Canada.

«Depuis 10 ans, explique-t-on, sept causes devant les tribunaux ont démontré les insuffisances constitutionnelles» du programme fédéral.

Selon Rielle Capler, une administratrice en santé et membre du conseil, l’association est comparable à un groupe professionnel qui appuie et réglemente ses membres selon la meilleure pratique de l’industrie.

«Notre association est dédiée à faciliter la transition des dispensaires de cannabis médical vers un service de santé licite et réglementé», a affirmé Mme Capler.

François Arcand, un patient consommateur de cannabis médical a expliqué qu’en 1989, une malformation cérébrale a causé une hémorragie massive dans son cerveau, le laissant notamment sévèrement épileptique.

Il a dit que le cannabis médical lui avait permis de tolérer sa condition et de survivre à des conditions de vie très difficiles depuis son accident cérébral, il y a plus de 20 ans.

«Avec l’assistance d’un dispensaire médical de cannabis, j’ai été capable d’obtenir de la marijuana de haute qualité de variété spécifique dont j’ai besoin pour proprement traiter ma condition», a raconté M. Arcand, ajoutant que, sans l’aide du dispensaire, il aurait dû mettre sa vie en danger pour se procurer du cannabis sur le marché noir.,0