Medical marijuana ‘completely fine’: Peter MacKay

Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay is defending the use of medical marijuana, following news a British Columbia-based company promoting the medicinal drug plans to expand into Nova Scotia.

Justice Minister says many ill Canadians find comfort in drug

Producers of homegrown marijuana will be abolished under the new system and replaced with industrial facilities overseen by the RCMP and federal health inspectors.

Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay is defending the use of medical marijuana.

His remarks follow news a British Columbia-based company promoting the medicinal drug plans to expand into Nova Scotia.

“Having it regulated, having it made legally available to Nova Scotians — I’m completely fine with that as long as it’s in compliance with Health Canada and they have met the approvals,” the Central Nova MP told CBC.

“I don't think there's any denying that medical marijuana is a great source of comfort and treatment for Canadians.”

The Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre in Vancouver said it will open a Nova Scotia clinic in March, just as new federal rules come into force prohibiting individuals from growing their own medical marijuana.

The Vancouver company arranges the Health Canada medical approval needed to obtain medical marijuana and supplies a doctor to sign the necessary forms.

Canada's Justice Minister Peter MacKay said he supports regulated medical marijuana. (The Canadian Press)

The company is advertising its long-distance service to Nova Scotians. For $400, a doctor based in British Columbia or Ontario will carry out a 30 to 40-minute exam via Skype prior to signing the Health Canada form.

The company said the Skype exam is rigorous, but Nova Scotia’s Health Minister Leo Glavine said he has concerns

“If there’s going to be prescribing medical marijuana, it’s going to be after a full medical evaluation of the patient,” he said.

Some in the medical profession frown on the drug.

Doctors Nova Scotia — the professional association representing physicians in the province — says medical marijuana has not been adequately tested to establish toxicity, dosage and interaction with other drugs.

“On the whole we’re still very uncomfortable with the whole notion of medical marijuana as an effective clinical treatment,” said Kevin Chapman, the organization's director of health policy.

The decision to sanction the use of medical marijuana is left to the discretion of individual doctors.

Paloma Aguilar, press secretary for MacKay's office, contacted CBC News Friday afternoon wishing to clarify the justice minister's statements on medical marijuana made Thursday. The statement reads: 

“Courts in Canada have ruled that the government must provide legal access to marijuana for those who claim a medical need. Our government believes that access to marijuana for medical purposes must be done in a fashion that prioritizes public safety. That's why we announced changes to the medical marijuana program that will protect public safety and remove the ability to grow in homes.”

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