Health Canada’s lack of rigorous safety review is the real outrage

The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled that medical marijuana users have the right not to have to smoke their medicine. Bring on the pot-infused cookies, lozenges, oils and teas. For some conditions alternative cannabis treatment is more effective and less risky than inhaling. Until the SCC ruling it was a criminal offence for medical users to ingest pot in any other form than dry leaf.

Wellness custodian of the land, Health Minister Rona Ambrose was “outraged” by the ruling.

“Marijuana has never gone through the regulatory approval process at Health Canada, which requires rigorous safety reviews and clinical trials with scientific evidence,” said Ambrose. “So frankly, I’m outraged by the Supreme Court.”

For some, outrage would have been justified had the ruling favored the status quo whereby a mother of a seven-year-old would have to insist Johnny take his medicine by sparking up a joint to get his seizures under control.

Others are outraged at Ambrose’s claim that Health Canada “requires rigorous safety reviews and clinical trials with scientific evidence.”

According to former Health Canada drug evaluator Shiv Chopra the real outrage is that “Health Canada is violating its own Food and Drugs Act by playing fast and loose with drug approvals, allowing drug manufacturers to regulate themselves,” and not insisting on ‘rigorous safety reviews’ as Ambrose claimed.

For Chopra the outrage is that 15 years after he and two fellow scientists, Margaret Haydon and Gérard Lambert blew the whistle on their Health Canada bosses for licensing drugs of questionable safety, nothing has changed.