Health Canada slow with pot licences

Source: The Daily Observer

Copyright: Sun Media Corporation

Contact: [email protected]

Website: ID# 2919395

By: Laura Payton, Parliamentary Bureau

Published: January 7, 2011

OTTAWA –– A woman who's been waiting five months for an updated licence to use medical marijuana says the situation for patients is getting worse.

Marie Tripp filed an application in August to change her licence after her doctor doubled her prescription for cannabis, and spoke to QMI Agency at the end of September about previous delays she suffered while getting renewals and changes for her licence.

Tripp suffers from fibro myalgia, chronic fatigue and osteoarthritis, but doesn't use any painkillers other than marijuana.

She has waited so long for the approval, however, that she's only five weeks away from having to renew her old license. Renewal is an annual requirement for those individuals approved to use pot to ease their chronic pain and help their appetites.

Tripp says she confirmed her application was in order, but was then told she submitted too much information, and her application was being returned to her.

Health Canada issues licences to people with debilitating illnesses and prescriptions from their doctors. Almost 5,000 Canadians have licences to carry marijuana and a little more than 3,500 have a licence to grow it.

But Tripp and others worry they risk being charged with possession, or even having their homes raided by police, while they wait.

"My grower is growing what I'm allowed, without a valid license for the amount that's on my table," Tripp said, "because of Health Canada's inability to get the cards to us."

Tripp has resubmitted her application as a licence renewal with an amendment, but her application is now on the bottom of the pile again.

Liberal health critic Ujjal Dosanjh points out this is a doctor's prescription to which Tripp is entitled.

"This government is playing doctor … because they hate the idea of allowing anyone to take marijuana."

A spokesman for Health Canada says the department streamlined its process and is now hitting its eight to 10 week processing time target, but wouldn't comment on Tripp's case, citing privacy concerns.