Many Americans Seek Treatment with Medical Marijuana in Canada, New York Times reports
The New York Times on Sunday reported on the number of Americans who have "flocked" to western Canada to avoid a Bush administration "crackdown" on medical marijuana cooperatives. In the past two years, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Drug Enforcement Administration Director Asa Hutchinson have "stiffened enforcement" against the cooperatives, which distribute marijuana to individuals who have chronic diseases in states that have legalized marijuana as a pain treatment. Federal agencies have raided some of the cooperatives, and others have been shut down, the Times reports. Marc Emery, president of the British Columbia Marijuana Party, said that "hundreds" of Americans have moved to western Canada, where they can obtain medical marijuana "more cheaply and easily" than in the United States. Although Canada and the United States both prohibit general marijuana use, Canada "has been far more tolerant" of marijuana use for medical purposes, and many Canadian officials argue that the United States has taken an "overly restrictive" position on the issue, the Times reports. According to the Times, a "handful" of Americans who face charges or convictions for marijuana use or cultivation have sought political asylum in Canada.
The requests have placed Canadian officials in an "awkward position" that requires them to either "stand up" for the applicants -- thus encouraging more refugees and asylum applications -- or "evict people who say they suffer from cancer" and other terminal illnesses. John Walters, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, said, "It's regrettable that people who are charged with criminal offenses in the United States don't face justice here and put a burden on another country." He also said that studies have found "no evidence that smoking marijuana was an effective medicine," the Times reports (Krauss, New York Times, 9/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.