Thursday, 17 May 2012

Medical marijuana: get used to it

After a diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, New York State Supreme Court Justice Gustin L. Reichbach eventually discovered that "inhaled marijuana" was the only medication that allowed him to eat and sleep as needed to manage his pain and maintain his weight, energy, and morale. Unfortunately, for him, New York has not legalized medical marijuana, so his friends provide it "at some personal risk", illegally. Says Reichbach:
"This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue. Being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I am receiving the absolute gold standard of medical care. But doctors cannot be expected to do what the law prohibits, even when they know it is in the best interests of their patients. When palliative care is understood as a fundamental human and medical right, marijuana for medical use should be beyond controversy."
"Because criminalizing an effective medical technique affects the fair administration of justice, I feel obliged to speak out as both a judge and a cancer patient suffering with a fatal disease."
Notice that he is not advocating for the more controversial general legalization of marijuana, but simply that medical patients should have legal access to medicine that has been proven effective. He also implies that marijuana is already so easy to get that there is little risk involved, but that isn't the point. Who benefits when otherwise law-abiding citizens are made into criminals for accessing medicine that can greatly improve their lives at little cost to themselves, government, and society?

In Canada, the question remains relevant as the government works to make it as difficult as possible for medical marijuana users to get their stuff. Why? Read on..!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

G20 report chastises police. But who's responsible?

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) has denounced the tactics that police and their superiors used during the G20 gathering in Toronto. The OIPRD has released a report that, hopefully, will be less easy to ignore than the past reports. See the Star's initial take.

I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this, but the thing that strikes me is the lack of accountability. No one seems to know (or name) who made the offending orders to leave the violent protesters (the "black bloc") alone and to trap and arrest the peaceful protesters the next day.

While a small group was breaking store windows and destroying police cars, the Major Incident Command Centre held a meeting about the havoc:
"At a point where there was silence, I asked the question, ‘Why are we not arresting these people?’" [incident commander Mark] Fenton is quoted as saying. "The Chief [Bill Blair] responded by looking at me and saying, ‘That is a very good question, Mark.’" 
Fenton said he also asked another incident commander how the situation had spiralled out of control. 
"Superintendent Ferguson responded by shaking his head and saying words to the effect of, ‘I tried, but I could not get the public order to move’ … I asked them to move and I was told that they couldn’t.’"
To whom did superintendent Ferguson make his request for a "public order"? Why was the request denied?

During the Queen and Spadina kettling, commanders on the ground made two requests to the major command centre at police headquarters: to use the LRAD—colloquially referred to as a “sound cannon”—to communicate with the crowd, and for an exit route for people to leave.  
"Both requests were denied," the [OIPRD] report said.
Again, who denied the orders and why? Read on..!
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