by Alex Watkins (News Writer)
Politicians battling it out on Parliament Hill October 4th weren’t the only ones blowing smoke – Samuel Mellace, of New Age Medical Solutions Inc., grabbed the public’s attention that day by lighting and smoking a joint in the Public Gallery of the House of Commons, in protest of what he considers unjust legislation surrounding the medical use of marijuana.
Though he was soon asked by a security guard to extinguish the joint and to leave the premises, no legal action was taken. Mellace – a registered medicinal marijuana user – states that there are no restrictions on where he is allowed to consume his medication, as “anti-smoking bylaws… are pertaining to tobacco.”
In part, Mellace’s protest was meant to call attention to the problem of limitations on the forms of medical marijuana that may legally be used. Presently, medical marijuana may only be smoked; it is illegal to process it into creams or edible forms, such as THC butter. This means that people who are unable to smoke marijuana – for example, lung cancer patients – cannot legally use it as medication.
In reference to the possible reasoning behind this legislation, Mellace speculated, “There’s only one [logical reason] that I can think of [which is] that people will process the marijuana into hashish or oil, and [therefore] use an alcohol to extract it. If you’re using an alcohol… if you don’t know what you’re doing… you could blow up the house.”
However, New Age Medical Solutions has devised a safe method for extracting cannabinoids without using alcohol. This method has allowed the company to devise a THC hand cream that could potentially be used to treat arthritis pain, without causing a “high” in the user. Under current laws, New Age Medical may not legally sell this product.
Mellace feels that it is important for all individuals to be able to medicate with marijuana, as the extended use of alternatives such as opiates can lead to dependency and damage to the body. He has personal experience with the problems posed by prescription medication: “I encountered my liver disorder due to the medications that I was taking… [after] I was in [a] car accident; for close to four and a half years I was taking 60 mg of Morphine, Percodan, Valium, Flexidol, anti-inflammatory. That was my cocktail for the day. So over the course of time it dried out my liver. [And] anything over 7 to 10 day usage of Tylenol 3…OxyContins, any opiate derivative, you will become close to being dependent on that pill to get you through the day.”
Mellace was also protesting Health Canada’s current delays in processing applications for licenses to grow medical marijuana. It is suggested that applicants submit their paperwork eight weeks before their licenses are set to expire, yet, according to Mellace, “that process is taking six months or more.” This means that individuals whose licenses expire in between harvesting periods are technically illegally in possession of marijuana.
Although Health Canada has cited a sudden increase in applications for the processing delays, Mellace believes that it is part of a larger problem of political interference. He feels that law-abiding citizens are being unfairly put in legal danger because of a lack of support within the government for such programs.
“I don’t want to see anybody go to jail…it just doesn’t make sense, especially if you’ve gone through all of the hurdles, the paperwork, finding a doctor to help you and sign your paperwork… there’s not much else one can do except follow the rule of law. And when the rule of law is perpetrated by political interference, then they… could almost be [construed] as obstructing justice.”