Press Release

BC Compassion Club Society Unenthusiastic About New Medicinal Cannabis Regulations and Fuming About Health Canada’s Plan to Give Confiscated Seeds to Prairie Plant Systems

Archived from 5 June, 2001

The British Columbia Compassion Club Society (BCCCS), a non-profit organization that has been distributing medicinal cannabis for over four years, is pleased that Canada is taking steps to create legal access to cannabis for those in need. However, they feel that their 1,500 members as well as many other Canadians will be adversely affected by the creation of this costly and unnecessary bureaucratic process. “There will be many Canadians who have a legitimate use of cannabis but will unable to obtain an exemption,” commented BCCCS founder and spokesperson Hilary Black.

“We are disappointed that Health Canada is not presently prepared to sanction compassion clubs, ” stated Black. Health Canada states that it is not prepared at this time to consider licensing organizations or companies other than Prairie Plant Systems to produce and distribute marihuana. The BCCCS has been providing medical cannabis to people in need for over four years, including section 56 exemption holders and has provided much of their expertise to Health Canada upon request during this process. A BC Supreme Court judge concluded that the BCCCS is providing a vital community service.

In agreement with the Canadian Medical Association, the BCCCS considers marijuana to be a natural healthcare product that does not need to be controlled by doctors. Black explains that although they have been requiring doctor’s recommendation as a qualification for membership, it has been only in order to protect themselves legally. “The pretense of requiring a Doctor’s recommendation is based on stigma, control and fear rather than on any legitimate health concerns. Cannabis should be accessed in a similar manner as all other herbs. We need to be making health care decisions based on health concerns, not on legal catches. The BCCCS is not legally in a safe enough position to take that stand, but the government is.”

Black expressed outrage upon finding out that the government is providing Plant Prairie Systems with seeds confiscated by the police. “Police confiscate seeds to use them as evidence in court. The government has no right to then use them for other purposes. They are stealing the work of a persecuted community. They are trying to by-pass the seed companies and breeders without giving them the credit or recognition they deserve. Meanwhile, a government subsidized private corporation is positioned to monopolize the production of medicinal cannabis using the stolen seeds. We cannot support.”

The government has now licensed Plant Prairies Systems to produce medical cannabis and will be giving them the confiscated seeds to start their operations. According the Black, this presents a huge problem because the only legal supply to date of medical cannabis will be growing an unknown and inconsistent supply. “Growing plants without knowledge of their genetic make-up, quality or cannabinoids profile is like reaching into a medicine cabinet blindfolded. There are highly reputable Canadian seed companies, such as Legends Seeds, that could provide quality, stabilized seed strains that they have been producing legally in Switzerland. It would be a waste of resources to grow out unknown seeds. Why must the government distance itself from the cannabis community where all the knowledge already exists?”

According to Black, the exclusion of experienced growers who have criminal records for growing and the by-passing of seed companies is a missed opportunity to legitimize and protect the jobs of many Canadians. Likewise, access to the whole plant must protected in order to protect the already flourishing natural medicine industry that employs and serves hundred of thousands of Canadians. Health Canada’s report mentions pharmaceutical drugs as the ultimate goal of their research. “It’s essential that Canadians continue to have the choice to use cannabis in its natural form.”