Impaired Driving: Preliminary Review

WATERLOO, ON, JUNE 27, 2017 – Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM), a national non-profit organization, released a first-of-its-kind preliminary research review on medical cannabis impaired driving – one of the major public safety concerns stemming from the legalization of non-medical cannabis.

The review situates the use of cannabis for medical purposes among research related to policy, prevalence, and risk of cannabis/THC impaired driving. The 200,000 legally authorized Canadians who are prescribed medical cannabis have important and distinct characteristics including dosing, strains, tolerance, methods of administration, and education received by their prescribing physicians. These factors, explored in the review, set medical cannabis patients apart from non-medical consumers and demonstrate this to be a key area left unexplored in previous impaired driving literature.

This preliminary review offers insight into how cannabis used for medical purposes relates to impaired driving, including the following topics:

DEFINING ‘IMPAIRMENT’

While CFAMM is fully against impaired driving and supports responsible driving legislation, the term “impairment” is widely used but is not always clearly defined. When speaking of impairment, crucial to this dialogue is speaking to actual impairment of cognitive, psychomotor, and other functions necessary to safely drive – not simply a measure of previous use such as the presence of THC in blood. Unlike blood alcohol concentration, which is scientifically linked to levels of impairment, matching levels of impairment to levels of THC in one’s system is still widely debated and has not been studied related to medical cannabis use.

RISK OF MEDICAL CANNABIS IMPAIRED DRIVING

Although many studies have explored the risk of recreational or occasional use of cannabis related to driving impairment, few have studied the risk related to responsible medical use of cannabis. For most patients, the goal of medical cannabis use is not to experience its psychoactive effects, but rather to treat or manage symptoms of an illness using the smallest effective dose. Although it’s a limited example, a past study on the medical use of cannabis (Sativex) for multiple sclerosis identified better driving safety measures after the introduction of cannabis in patients’ treatment regimens, suggesting a need for further research on medical users. It is also important to note that U.S. states have recorded an 8-11% drop in overall traffic fatalities one year following the introduction of medical cannabis legislation.

DISTINCTIVE NATURE OF MEDICAL CANNABIS USE

Many medically authorized Canadians use cannabis daily or near daily to manage symptoms associated with their illness and are expected to follow advice from health care providers. This includes safe-use guidelines, such as waiting 4+ hours after consumption before driving, to help eliminate risk of potential impairment. The metabolism and effects of THC are highly variable from person-to-person and THC can remain detectable within a regular user’s blood for days after last consumption. The government’s proposal, which would set a per se cut-off of 2ng/ml THC at the lower end, means even when patients are not impaired, they would have to stop using their medicine for 3-7+ days before driving.

QUOTE

“Although driving is not a right but a privilege, patients who use cannabis responsibly and are not impaired should still be able to drive without risk or fear of being charged. It is necessary for the government to incentivize further research and include considerations for patients using cannabis. While a strict precautionary approach may be appropriate in light of limited evidence, policymakers have a responsibility to both safeguard road safety and balance the rights of medical cannabis patients to ensure they are not unfairly criminalized by drugged driving laws that do not target impairment.”

-Jonathan Zaid, Lead Author and Executive Director, CFAMM

For interview requests, contact us here. Stay tuned for the full, bilingual report and policy recommendations in the coming months.

 

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Les besoins des patients doivent avoir la priorité dans la légalisation du cannabis au Québec

English version here

MONTRÉAL, le 20 juin 2017 /CNW/ – Santé Cannabis, le centre d’excellence du cannabis thérapeutique au Québec, et Canadiens pour l’accès équitable à la marijuana médicale (CAEMM), un organisme national à but non lucratif, sont heureux de participer aujourd’hui au forum d’experts sur la légalisation du cannabis. Annoncé par la ministre déléguée à la Santé publique, Lucie Charleboix, ce forum constitue la première étape d’un processus de consultation visant à préparer la réglementation liée à la légalisation du cannabis au Québec.

Des représentants de Santé Cannabis et de CAEMM pourront répondre aux questions des médias durant le forum. Les deux organismes demandent à ce qu’on reconnaisse les besoins des patients qui consomment du cannabis à des fins médicales, comme l’amélioration de l’accessibilité et de l’abordabilité du produit au moyen de circuits de distribution variés et de l’élimination des taxes de vente. Ils demandent aussi un engagement à financer la recherche sur le cannabis thérapeutique. « Les patients utilisent du cannabis en raison de besoins médicaux. Il faut qu’il soit facile et sécuritaire pour eux d’y accéder au Québec, et il faut également lutter contre la stigmatisation », a déclaré Daphnée Elisma, patiente utilisant du cannabis thérapeutique et représentante du Québec pour CAEMM.

« Il faut que les patients soient au coeur des travaux visant à harmoniser les réseaux de production de cannabis à des fins médicales et non médicales. Il faut aussi que les revenus de la vente légalisée du cannabis soient utilisés pour informer la population et financer la recherche sur les propriétés thérapeutiques du cannabis et son incidence sur la santé publique », a déclaré Erin Prosk, directrice de Santé Cannabis. « Nous saluons l’initiative de la ministre pour avoir lancé cette consultation et donné l’occasion aux experts d’apporter leur contribution dans le cadre de ce forum. »

Santé Cannabis

Santé Cannabis est la première clinique et le premier centre de ressources spécialisé en cannabis à usage thérapeutique. Les médecins de Santé Cannabis évaluent la pertinence d’utiliser le cannabis à des fins médicales sur recommandation d’un autre médecin et ont évalué plus de 3 000 patients depuis l’ouverture de l’organisme en novembre 2014. Santé Cannabis est le premier centre de recrutement pour le Registre Cannabis Québec.

Au sujet de Canadiens pour l’accès équitable à la marijuana médicale

Fondé en 2014, Canadiens pour l’accès équitable à la marijuana médicale (CAEMM)/Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) est un organisme fédéral à but non lucratif, dirigé par des patients, qui se dévoue à la protection et à l’amélioration des droits des patients qui consomment du cannabis à des fins médicales. CAEMM/CFAMM vise à faire en sorte que les patients aient un accès équitable et sûr au cannabis médical, en mettant particulièrement l’accent sur son abordabilité, notamment dans le cadre des régimes d’assurance privés et publics. Pour obtenir de plus amples renseignements à ce sujet, visitez le site www.cfamm.ca.

SOURCE Canadiens pour l’accès équitable à la marijuana médicale (CAEMM)

Renseignements : Erin Prosk, Santé Cannabis, erin@santecannabis.ca; Daphnée Elisma, CAEMM/CFAMM, delisma@cfamm.ca, 514 213-5378

LIENS CONNEXES
www.cfamm.ca

Quebec’s Cannabis Legislation Must Put Patients First

MONTREAL, June 20, 2017 /CNW/ – Santé Cannabis, Quebec’s centre of excellence in medical cannabis, and Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) a national non-profit organization, are pleased to be participating in today’s cannabis legalization Expert Forum. The Expert Forum was announced by Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois as the first step in a consultation process to develop regulations for legalized cannabis in the province of Quebec.

Representatives from both organizations will be available for media interviews at the forum. The organizations are calling for recognition of medical cannabis patients’ needs including broadened access through various distribution channels, affordability measures including the elimination of sales tax, and committed funding for medical cannabis research. Daphnée Elisma, a medical cannabis patient and Québec representative of CAEMM/CFAMM, states “patients utilize cannabis out of medical necessity – access in Quebec must be reliable, affordable, and destigmatized.”

”Efforts to harmonize medical and non-medical supply of cannabis must put patients first and revenues from the sale of legal cannabis must support education and research about its medical utility and public health impacts,” said Erin Prosk, Director of Santé Cannabis.  “We applaud the minister for undertaking this consultation process and for the opportunity to contribute our expertise to the Expert Forum.”

About Santé Cannabis

Santé Cannabis is the leading medical cannabis clinic and resource centre.  Physicians at Santé Cannabis provide medical cannabis consultations on a referral-basis and have assessed 3000 patients since opening in November 2014.  Santé Cannabis is the leading recruitment centre for the Quebec Cannabis Registry.

About Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana

Founded in 2014, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) is a federal non-profit, patient-run organization dedicated to protecting and improving the rights of medical cannabis patients. CFAMM’s goal is to enable patients to obtain fair and safe access to medical cannabis with a special focus on affordability, including private and public insurance coverage. For more information, visit www.cfamm.ca.

SOURCE Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM)

For further information: Erin Prosk, Santé Cannabis, erin@santecannabis.ca; Daphnée Elisma, CAEMM/CFAMM, delisma@cfamm.ca, (514) 213-5378

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NS Human Rights Coverage Case (Skinner) Announcement

Aurora Joins CFAMM in Backing Human Rights Case for Medical Cannabis Insurance Coverage

En français
TORONTO, May 23, 2017 /CNW/ – Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) today welcomed a commitment of financial and other resources from licensed producer Aurora Cannabis Inc. in support of Gordon “Wayne” Skinner’s defense in a potentially precedent-setting medical cannabis insurance coverage case.

In a January 30, 2017 landmark ruling, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission concluded that the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Fund committed discrimination by denying coverage for the medical cannabis Mr. Skinner uses to manage chronic pain and other conditions resulting from a work-related injury that left him permanently impaired.

Following the Commission’s decision, the Board of Trustees filed an appeal against Mr. Skinner and the Commission in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. The appeal has been set for October 2, 2017.

CFAMM, a non-profit patient advocacy organization, has been providing strategic support to Mr. Skinner, and the commitment of resources from Aurora will ensure that Mr. Skinner has the ability to vigorously defend his case, including representation by a leading disability lawyer, Hugh Scher of Scher Law Professional Corporation in Toronto.

When conventional prescription medications failed to provide sufficient relief for his conditions, Mr. Skinner’s physician prescribed medical cannabis, which offered superior symptom management compared to previous treatment regimens. In the Human Rights Commission ruling, Commission Board of Inquiry Chair Benjamin Perryman stated that he found Mr. Skinner “was discriminated against when he was denied coverage for medical marijuana by the trustees responsible for making decisions under his benefits plan.”

“I am very grateful for Aurora’s partnership in supporting Wayne Skinner and CFAMM’s work on behalf of other patients across Canada who are defending their rights and advocating for fair treatment,” said Jonathan Zaid, Founder and Executive Director of CFAMM. “There is now ample evidence that patients have had success managing the symptoms of a wide range of health conditions through the use of medical cannabis prescribed by their doctors. Medical cannabis should be eligible for insurance coverage in the same way as other prescribed medications.”

“This is the right thing to do, and we’re going to back CFAMM and Wayne Skinner all the way,” said Terry Booth, CEO of Aurora. “It is a matter of fundamental fairness and equality that these patients should be able to rely on their benefits plans to support prescribed medical treatment.”

“The lack of coverage for medical cannabis, the only treatment that has worked for me, has caused extreme hardship on my family and has diminished my health,” said Wayne Skinner. “The Trust Fund is charged with representing me and supporting my medical needs, yet they continue to unreasonably prolong this difficult situation. It makes no sense to me that, in managing my chronic pain for example, the Trust Fund would reimburse me for prescription opioid drugs, with their associated side effects and risk of dependence, but they continue to deny me coverage for medical cannabis.”

About Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana

Founded in 2014, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) is a federal non-profit, patient-run organization dedicated to protecting and improving the rights of medical cannabis patients. CFAMM’s goal is to enable patients to obtain fair and safe access to medical cannabis with a special focus on affordability, including private and public insurance coverage. For more information, visit www.cfamm.ca.

About Aurora

Aurora’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Aurora Cannabis Enterprises Inc., is a licensed producer of medical cannabis pursuant to Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations(“ACMPR”). The Company operates a 55,200 square foot, state-of-the-art production facility in Mountain View County, Alberta, and is currently constructing a second 800,000 square foot production facility, known as “Aurora Sky”, at the Edmonton International Airport, and has acquired, and is undertaking completion of, a third 40,000 square foot production facility in Pointe Claire, Quebec, near Montreal. In addition, the company is the cornerstone investor with a 19.9% stake in Cann Group Limited, the first Australian company licensed to conduct research on and cultivate medical cannabis. Aurora’s common shares trade on the TSX-V under the symbol “ACB”.

SOURCE Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM)

For further information:

Jonathan Zaid, Founder and Executive Director, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, 416-837-5972, jzaid@cfamm.ca, www.cfamm.ca; Cam Battley, Executive Vice President, Aurora Cannabis Inc., 905-864-5525, cam@auroramj.com, www.auroramj.com

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Statement on Legalization & Cannabis Act

Leading patient advocacy groups applaud federal government’s recognition of medical cannabis within proposed legalization framework

Continuation of separate and accessible medical cannabis system is critical; leaves questions about affordability and commitment to research

TORONTO, April 13, 2017 – The Arthritis Society and Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) welcome the Federal government’ decision to preserve the existing Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) within the new legislation for the legalization of cannabis in Canada announced in Parliament today.

This ensures that Canadians needing cannabis for medical purposes will be able to continue to obtain it, if they wish, through a separate, accessible, regulated system that is distinct from that for non-medical cannabis. However, other patient needs remain to be addressed in the negotiations with the provinces in the coming months.

Access to medical cannabis

Under the legislation, which is slated to take effect on or before July 1, 2018, the existing ACMPR infrastructure of Licensed Producers, physician guidance and government monitoring for medical cannabis will be retained. As the government heard from patient advocacy groups during last year’s consultation process, a separate system for medical cannabis is vital to ensure that the needs of Canadian patients continue to be met post-legalization.

“Continuing to provide patients with a separate system for medical cannabis is an important first step,” said Janet Yale, President and CEO of The Arthritis Society, “but that system still needs to be strengthened to better respond to patients’ needs, especially in affordability. There was also a missed opportunity for the government to address research funding for medical cannabis – especially in a week that saw Canada’s Fundamental Science Review table its report expressing the importance of scientific investment.”

Last year, together with the Canadian AIDS Society, the groups made recommendations to the federal government that included eliminating federal sales tax (known as goods and services tax in some provinces and harmonized sales tax in others) on medical cannabis, facilitating its coverage in insurance plans, and investing $25 million over five years to research evidence-based guidelines for its proper use.

Need for affordability

“Many Canadians rely on this medicine in order to maintain quality of life in the face of crippling conditions ranging from chronic pain to PTSD to epilepsy,” says Jonathan Zaid, Founder and Executive Director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM). “For a person who has to spend upwards of $500 a month on their medical cannabis, it’s bad enough that their health insurance won’t cover the cost, but having to pay sales tax on it – when virtually all other medical necessities are tax-exempt – is literally adding insult to injury.”

There is plenty of precedent for creating separate sales tax categories for related products, such as exemptions on sales tax for prescriptions and other medical necessities. With reasonable controls such as physician authorization, a separate system for medical cannabis can easily allow for a sales tax exemption for medical cannabis, with little risk of non-medical users exploiting the tax-free option. The system should further allow medical cannabis to be covered by health insurance plans – as are other drugs and medical necessities that cannabis use often replaces – helping ensure its affordability for patients who need it.

“If the government accepts the use of cannabis for medical purposes – and it must, based on this legislation,” says Zaid, “then it must also accept that it needs to be treated the same way as other medications, with the same protections built in for patients.”

Commitment to research

Research into medical cannabis is decades behind where it should be, and many physicians are reluctant to advise their patients on the use of medical cannabis due to the absence of clear, evidence-based guidelines. More knowledge is needed about how cannabis works as a medicine – from optimal doses and forms of delivery to other therapeutic aspects, contraindications and other considerations. This information can only come from investments in good research, which will provide physicians with practical information about how and when to prescribe cannabis, and develop reasonable expectations about its effectiveness.

“The Arthritis Society is doing our part to fill these knowledge gaps, having already committed $720,000 in research funding,” says Yale. “But we can’t do it alone: we need a systemic commitment from the federal government to prioritize medical cannabis research. That starts with directing some of the revenues generated from taxes on non-medical cannabis to fund research into medical cannabis, and using additional policy levers to encourage more research. Canada has an opportunity not only to catch up, but to become a global leader in this important work.”

About The Arthritis Society

The Arthritis Society has been setting lives in motion for over 65 years. Dedicated to a vision of living well while creating a future without arthritis, The Society is Canada’s principal health charity providing education, programs and support to the over 4.6 million Canadians living with arthritis. Since its founding in 1948, The Society has been the largest non‐government funder of arthritis research in Canada, investing over $195 million in projects that have led to breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with arthritis. The Arthritis Society is accredited under Imagine Canada’s Standards Program. For more information and to make a donation, visit www.arthritis.ca.

About Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana

Founded in 2014, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) is a federal non-profit, patient-run organization dedicated to protecting and improving the rights of medical cannabis patients. CFAMM’s goal is to enable patients to obtain fair and safe access to medical cannabis with a special focus on affordability, including private and public insurance coverage. For more information, visit www.cfamm.ca.

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Interview and media requests can be completed here.

 

 

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Nova Scotia: Board Rules in Favour of Insurance Coverage for Medical Marijuana

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Press Release: Task Force Report Statement (Dec 2016)

Medical cannabis patient groups pleased federal government Task Force recognizes distinct needs of patients

Task Force report agrees that patients need well-researched, regulated and affordable access to medical cannabis

OTTAWA, Ontario – December 13, 2016 – Three leading patient advocacy groups commend the federal government’s Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation for their recommendations related to patient access to cannabis for medical purposes announced today.

The groups are very pleased that the Task Force, chaired by the Hon. A. Anne McLellan, has considered their main concerns about the future of medical cannabis in an environment of legalized recreational use.
The groups’ key recommendations were that the government ensure that patients are able to safely and reliably access affordable medical cannabis in all its forms and potencies through various distribution channels. The groups also called on the government to expand funding for and incentivize medical cannabis research.

The Task Force heard many of the concerns voiced by patients and recognized their distinct needs when accessing cannabis for medical purposes. Patients’ voices were reflected in the Task Force’s recommendation that the current separate system of medical access to cannabis be maintained while the legal system for non-medical cannabis unfolds.

The Task Force highlighted the need for additional research to address patients’ barriers to access, support medical professionals and inform policy in this evolving area. We call on the government to immediately invest $25 million over five years to better understand the therapeutic effects of cannabis for symptom management associated with various medical conditions in the federal government’s 2017 budget. The federal government can begin to show leadership immediately through specific research investments, independent of the implementation of a legalization framework.

As with other medicines, patients must be able to access an affordable supply of medical cannabis. We are disappointed that the Task Force did not recommend that the federal government zero-rate medical cannabis as is done for other treatments for tax purposes. We urge the government to follow the Task Force’s guidance by actively monitoring affordability issues for patients and taking action as needed.

“We are very pleased with the recommendations of the Task Force regarding medical cannabis and urge the government to implement these recommendations as it drafts its legislation,” said Janet Yale, President and CEO of The Arthritis Society. “Many Canadians with arthritis rely on medical cannabis and it is crucial that we enhance our research investment in cannabis to help inform patient treatment and care.”

“The Task Force has listened to the concerns of patients that their needs for medical cannabis cannot simply be met by accessing their medicine in the same fashion as for recreational use,” said Jonathan Zaid, Founder and Executive Director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana. “There continues to be pressing concerns for patients related to the current medical cannabis system, including critical concerns about affordability and retail access options. The government must continue to listen to patients’ voices as it develops legislation.”

“It is very important for Canadian patients to access cannabis for medical purposes through a process that meets their distinct needs and use requirements, which are different than those of non-medical users,” said Gary Lacasse, Executive Director, Canadian AIDS Society. “We are encouraged that the Task Force recommendations recognized patients’ experiences and recommended a variety of distribution options to access their cannabis treatment.”

Recommendations presented in August

The groups presented their recommendations on accessibility, affordability and support for research to the Task Force in August in their joint submission.

The three groups also hosted a roundtable session with a diverse group of patients and the Task Force in October at which patients gave first-hand accounts of their experiences, challenges and positive results from using medical cannabis.

At that session, patients spoke about the necessity of reliable access to different types of cannabis products in different, well-regulated doses depending on their specific need or health status, such as having ingestible forms when they are not able or willing to inhale cannabis smoke. They also described the affordability issues they faced due to lack of insurance coverage for medical cannabis and the burden of having to pay sales taxes, unlike prescription drugs. Medical cannabis costs can reach up to $500 a month for some patients and are a burden for many, even at much lower amounts.

The need for more research and more reliable information for both doctors and patients was also noted. Many patients have had difficulty finding a physician willing and able to prescribe them cannabis and lack information about forms and dosages. This means many patients have self-medicated with little or no guidance from their healthcare team to find the level and type of cannabis that gives them the most benefit, underscoring the need for much greater formal research.

About The Arthritis Society
The Arthritis Society has been setting lives in motion for over 65 years. Dedicated to a vision of living well while creating a future without arthritis, The Society is Canada’s principal health charity providing education, programs and support to the over 4.6 million Canadians living with arthritis. Since its founding in 1948, The Society has been the largest non‐government funder of arthritis research in Canada, investing over $190 million in projects that have led to breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with arthritis. The Arthritis Society is accredited under Imagine Canada’s Standards Program. For more information and to make a donation, visit www.arthritis.ca.

About Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana
Founded in 2014, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) is a federal non-profit, patient-run organization dedicated to protecting and improving the rights of medical cannabis patients. CFAMM’s goal is to enable patients to obtain fair and safe access to medical cannabis with a special focus on affordability, including private and public insurance coverage. For more information, visit www.cfamm.ca.

About the Canadian AIDS Society
Incorporated since 1986, the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS) is a national coalition of community-based AIDS organizations across Canada. CAS is dedicated to strengthening the response to HIV/AIDS across all sectors of society, and to enriching the lives of people and communities living with HIV/AIDS. For more information, please visit www.cdnaids.ca.

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