Medicinal my way

CFAMM Federal Finance Committee Speech with James O’Hara


On November 7th, 2018 Medicinal My Way Coalition Member James O’Hara addressed the Federal Finance Committee and below is a transcript of that speech.

“Thank you Chair, and to the Standing Committee for the invitation to appear today. My name is James O’Hara and I’m the President and CEO of Canadians For Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, commonly known as CFAMM and I’m a medical cannabis patient myself.

CFAMM is a national non-profit organization which has successfully represented medical cannabis patients since 2014. We speak on behalf of the approximately 350,000 medical cannabis patients in Canada today. Our organization has emerged as the thoughtful, legitimate, grassroots voice for medical cannabis in the non-profit, advocacy space today.

Let me begin Mr. Chairman…by saying, 25%, that’s the average amount of tax there is on medical cannabis today. 25% and in many cases, that’s low…fully a quarter of the cost of a patient’s medicine is consumed by tax today.

It’s essential to understand that affordable and reasonable access to medical cannabis is absolutely critical to a patient’s health, well-being, and ultimately…their lives.

Yet, that’s not what we have today – in fact, we have the complete opposite in the form of a significantly tax-burdened medicine.

Let me take some time to recap some of this government’s rationale for taxing medical cannabis…

The right honorable Justin Trudeau has stated many times that non-medical users will flock to the medical system and abuse it. Given cannabis legalization was implemented last month, this is no longer a valid reason…

He has also stated many times, that legalization has been put in place in order to defeat the black market, this is also…no longer a valid reason.

This is because these burdensome taxes now do the complete opposite – and that is, to encourage a black market, not defeat it. In fact, there’s more reason than ever before for a black market to exist.

And let me give you a measure of that Mr. Chairman…I can honestly sit here today and tell you categorically that I have never, ever, in my life heard so many patients tell me they will no longer support this industry and instead they’ll go to that very black market that Mr. Trudeau is trying to eliminate.

It’s also been stated by many sitting members of this government, in written form to their patient constituents, that medical cannabis patients need to pay for the costs of legalization and enforcement…Mr. Chairman, let me remind you that we’ve already paid. We’ve been paying for almost 20 years. We’ve paid that bill – and then some, even before legalization existed, a very long time ago.

And let me add a lesser known fact here, medical cannabis patients do more than pay – they save both this country and companies in costs through less medication, fewer doctor visits, hospital visits, and less sick days.

Members of this government have also often stated that there’s an excise tax exemption for medical cannabis patients. The bar for this so-called exemption is anything less or equal to .03% THC. Mr. Chairman, that is not medical cannabis – that’s the THC level of hemp. This is a political defensive
measure simply put in place to confuse people and is effectively no exemption for patients at all.

The latest version of medical taxes justification appears to be the DIN argument. Mr. Chairman there are already tax exempt products today which have no DIN, the reality here is this is just another stall tactic on the part of this government in order to continue to collect taxes from health and economically-challenged Canadians as long as possible.

So whether it’s the story of non-medical users cheating the system, black market elimination, or medical users having to pay a bill, or false exemptions or DIN’s…these all lead to a single obvious truth – and that truth is this government desires the tax revenue – at any cost.

And let me tell you something about that cost Mr. Chairman, these taxes come at a far greater cost than any one of us – including myself – is capable of ever imagining. It’s paid for in the pain, suffering, and deaths of literally hundreds of thousands of Canadians each and every day.

I’d like the members of this committee, and the MP’s have supported these taxes, that each and every time you state another reason as to why taxes on medical cannabis should exist, please remember that you’re saying this to your ill mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, uncle, brother, sister, niece, or nephew – and your constituents – because medical cannabis patients are all around you and realize you can only justify this practice if you’re either seriously misinformed or have no compassion whatsoever for the daily struggles of health and economically-challenged Canadians.

In closing Mr. Chairman, it’s on these very compassionate grounds that I call on this government to end all taxes on medical cannabis immediately.

I want to thank the committee for their time and I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Thank you.”

To connect with James or CFAMM please visit https://cfamm.ca/