Why aren't we stoking AIDS toking? some delegates to the interna tional AIDS Conference who pick up Health Canada's 32-page guide to medical marijuana end up carrying material around that could put them in prison back home.
But even in terms of this conference, this is subversive stuff. Shockingly, there are no official conference sessions on pot's positive effects on the wasting syndrome common to people with AIDS. Cannabis has gone missing.
To top it off, it's not even Health Canada handing out the guide, despite the fact that we can claim world dominance in experience with pot meds. Our feds, its seems, won't push the forbidden knowledge boundary.
Instead, the package is being distributed by the Medical Marijuana Information Resource Centre (MMIRC), present only because it's funded by Cannasat Therapeutics Inc., which had the $5,000 needed to snag a booth in the Global Village fair. To cut costs, MMIRC shares space with the Canadian AIDS Society, an umbrella org representing 125 AIDS societies.
MMIRC spokesperson Hilary Black says when delegates stroll by she talks up the medical evidence. "There's a lot of skepticism and giggles, but our own government's physician information is really working.' Many visitors, she says, are repeats who come back the next day after reviewing the info package. Some return with a crowd.
A spokesperson for Minister of Health Tony Clement, Eric Waddell, says it wasn't feasible to have a separate booth for Health Canada's Office of Cannabis Medical Access (OCMA) at the conference. Instead, he says, participants can get information at the Health Canada booth. "People will be informed of the website, the 1-800 number and can leave their contact info."
When I ask him if the physician guide is available at the booth, he says, "No, but if people leave their contact info we can mail it to them.' He denies that the decision not to have OCMA at the conference was a political one.
MMIRC isn't the only group dispensing guerrilla pot advice. Also present is compassion club Cannabis as Living Medicine, which is hooked up with long-time supporter the AIDS Committee of Toronto.
"Health Canada's got lots of issues,' reports CALM director Neev, who doesn't use his last name. "But we're at least a decade ahead of the U.S. and three decades ahead of Asia and Africa."
Both Black and Neev admit to tingling patriotic pot pride.