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Health Canada gaffe outs up to 40,000 medical marijuana users in letters


 

OTTAWA – A gaffe by Health Canada has outed thousands of medical marijuana users.

Earlier this week, the department mailed 40,000 letters to medical marijuana users across the country, alerting them to major changes coming in the program beginning April 1.

But the letters arrived in an envelope that referred explicitly to the Medical Marijuana Access Program, with the name of the patient on the outside.

George Da Pont, deputy minister at Health Canada, issued an apology on the Health Canada website Thursday, calling the mailout an administrative error.

He says the department has been in discussions with the privacy commissioner about the incident.

“I have been advised that as the result of an administrative error the envelopes were labelled to indicate that they were sent by the program,” said the apology. “This is not standard Health Canada practice.”

“On behalf of Health Canada, I deeply regret this administrative error. Health Canada is taking steps to ensure this does not happen again.”

Medical marijuana user Marcel Gignac says the gaffe has painted a target on the backs of medical marijuana patients across Canada, many of whom now fear home invasions.

“Patients are a little upset,” Gignac said from Amherst. N.S. “Health Canada put thousands of the most vulnerable at risk.”

Gignac, who is also spokesman for the Medicinal Cannabis Patients Alliance of Canada Inc., said the outing exposes patients socially as well as to thefts.

He said the department has previously used registered mail and discreet envelopes that do not spell out the medical marijuana program when communicating with patients.

A spokesman for Health Canada said no one was immediately available for comment.

The privacy commissioner’s office said officials first learned of the problem through individuals who contacted them.

“Our office was not notified by Health Canada of this incident,” said spokeswoman Heather Ormerod.

“We were made aware of it by a number of concerned individuals who contacted our office. We have since received complaints and we will be investigating this matter.”

Health Canada is changing its medical marijuana program to allow dozens of approved commercial growers to provide the product to licensed patients, while phasing out personal production.

Some patients have said the move could increase prices dramatically for users with little or no income.


 

Health Canada gaffe outs up to 40,000 medical marijuana users in letters

  1. You know… the “home invasion” angle just makes me sick.

    Think:
    if a gov’t “administrative error” published people’s bank-account info
    (from RevCan direct-deposit records, for example), some people would be
    at risk of having their money stolen. The public outcry would be
    *HUGE*.

    THIS “error” puts some people at risk of not only theft, but assault, the
    destruction of their homes, and possibly serious injury or death… and
    the gov’t expects to get off with “Oops. Sorry. We’ll try to make
    sure it doesn’t happen again.”

    • No admin error. These envelopes are normally used for the census, and someone made a decision. HC never uses these style of envelopes.

  2. Medical marijuana should be paid for by their drug plans so the poor and disabled wouldn’t have to choose between food and medication. After all, what are we…Americans?

    • As a dual citizen, I endorse this message

  3. There is a cure for the oppression that I am sure most Medical marijuana users will avail themselves of soon. It is provided by the Hells Angels who never harass and oppress their clients (Only their competitors) And at a new competitive low price. $125 per ounce in the lower mainland. The HA know its bad business to overcharge and drive their customers away

  4. maybe they are smoking so much that they are becoming overly paranoid; as if all of the neighbours go through their mail

    • Hope you never need it, dolt.

  5. Sure thing, deeply regret and administrative error. I received a letter yesterday as well and am quite upset that it’s now out. I’m disabled, got off the pain pills so my brain could work. Praying to god everyday that accupuncture and other holistic practices I am trying will give me my independence back. Don’t think I’ll ever get my job(casual employee at Canada Post) back now!!!! Just what I needed, another kick in the teeth from the government. Can’t afford those pills, can’t afford to buy pot either. No friggin wonder there are so many pill poppers out there! Welfare and drug plans will pay for that stuff. Guess my ass will be in jail. A real criminal! I think maybe the Canadian Government should get on the pot and off the crack!!Thanks for putting the skids to me AGAIN!! We need another federal election sooner than later. It’s time to let the young people run Canada. At least they have open minds and hopefully will not be bought. The Youth is our future!! It’s time for change Canada!!

  6. This is an outrage! They must unite and take serious action over this violation of privacy but more so of safety!

  7. As has been correctly pointed out, this “mistake”, nay– let’s call it as it really is— the careless and NEGLIGENT act of privacy breaches on the part of Health Canada with the information that is closely held by physicians — they veered from their usual method of delivering news to patients who have legal authority to possess and/or grow their own — “He said the department has previously used registered mail and discreet envelopes that do not spell out the medical marijuana program when communicating with patients.” — is going to have some major rippling effects on patients that have decided to use natural methods to control pain — (verses the pharma drugs that make addicts out of far too many folks who can’t break free of it; but hey, it’s prescribed, so it must be good, –riggghttt–> Oxyconton ring any bells? ) to control seizures, aid in neurological disorders, and make cancer treatment patients more comfortable.

    Here’s what jumped out at me, –( I am licensed to possess small quantities for my dystonia and five herniated discs that compromise my walking) –when receiving the mail notification and reading the directions on how things were to be accomplished — aside from the immediate concern of having the full return address information plastered all over the mailing—- ; and that way— “this is going to put a lot of people in the “could possibly be busted by the cops if this info gets into over-zealous hands, and could ruin careers that depend on a clean record, especially those who might be regulated where a contravention of our illegal drug laws comes into play– i.e., doctors, lawyers, teachers. You might be thinking, what is he going on about?

    Allow me to explain. 1)- in order to transition from the current system to the new one, there will be a gap between registering with a licensed grower -of at LEAST six weeks- could be more!~– ******~~2) this means the person waiting to be registered with the grower will have to dispose of his/her stash, UNTIL they have been approved by the Licenced Producer (LP). 3) They become approved to receive cannabis by way of the LP by the by submitting either their current license (which means they have no way of proving they are allowed to possess it in the interim, right??? ), or having a new medical application filled out by their physician, which often means paying the physician for something not covered by the provincial health care system.
    Ergo– not only is the person in need of medical marihuana not going to have a license on them to prove they are allowed to use it– but in order to stay legal, they’ll have to rid themselves of all “left over” dried cannabis while waiting.

    4)— THEN, and get this– a licensee’s license is held by the LP, and it’s the SHIPPING Label that’s proof for the patient that they’re allowed to possess it.
    Now, is it just me, or does this scream out for a better way? This means that whoever is doing the actual shipping– a courier perhaps– will have knowledge of what has been paid for by the patient, -so, what kind of doors does this open for possible high-jacking of the legal cannabis?

    And yes, the price used to be a sawbuck for a gram with Health Canada– but the licensed growers can set their own price– (so guess who will lower theirs– mmm??)– which makes price concerns legitimate; those who might be on a fixed income will now have to make a choice, to either go with-provincially paid-for drugs– and the health issues that flow from those –i.e., kidney, liver, heart, adrenals— or find another way to access what she/he knows to work.

    This isn’t simply a “mistake/error” on Health Canada’s part, and it’s not so much, in my mind, about someone breaking into my place for a small private stash; since I don’t have prescription drugs,- which is what I know is what is most valuable on the streets,- I’m not too worried about someone breaking in.

    What I am worried about, is that gap period; a) what to do during the time in order to manage my dystonia and back pain, plus, might this result in a sudden ‘home search” for illegal drugs by the cops? I gotta ask myself– since stuff that Canada Post sends is scanned, and laws are out there that allow our boys-in-red-, -the ponies– (RCMP) to find loop holes, under “terrorism, controlled substance” laws that could reek havoc on the lives of decent, law abiding citizens who have physicians that understand their right to made choices as to what drugs they’re willing to use to manage their ailments.

    This is going to have some interesting results– I hope all 40,000 of us who are legitimate users will band together and send a resounding message to this government that our right to medical privacy is a sacred one, not to be taken lightly.

    I’m also looking at Charter issues, but since I’ve not delved into that enough, I won’t speak to that at present. Let’s just say I’m not a happy camper!

  8. Goes to show you, it would be more discreet if you simply grow your own @myweedseeds

  9. Given the danger to patients by Healh Canada’s negligence, the only solution is to solve the privacy, security and cost issues once and for all. Repeal cannabis prohibition immediately. Because if they don’t, this just handed many people an affirmative defence if the cops decide your papers aren’t in order. Common law defence of necessity, Charter s. 7 violation. NEVER PLEAD GUILTY.

  10. Organizing an individually addressed mass-mailing of literally tens of thousands of essentially identical letters takes time and planning. Someone… perhaps some *group* of people… had to sit down and carefully plan both the wording of the mailed materials themselves, and also the format of the package.

    Conscious decisions were made about (and perhaps even a budget was submitted and approved for) the acquisition of exactly the number and *type* of envelopes and labels, about the formatting of the written materials in order to fit such packaging (including making sure that the name of the originating department was clearly visible)… and of course, about doing it all through regular lettermail.

    There’s a paper trail that details who made which decisions – including the decisions to use special windowed envelopes and the full name of the program on the mailing label (contrary to all previous policy) – and who created and approved the budget-lines for over 50 thousand printing and postage.

    Follow that trail and deal with the author of every faulty or illegal step in the process.

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