Pubdate: Wed, 01 Aug 2001
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2001 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


The government of Canada seems to be fumbling a bit with its plans to 
make marijuana available to the sick people who would benefit from 
it, but our neighbors' fumbling is far better than the indifference 
of the U.S. Congress.

Canada has created an elaborate system of identification for people 
who have support from their doctors for using marijuana. It also 
includes a means for distributing the drug, including a 
government-sponsored growing program.

Canada is responding to the fact that the drug has been used 
illegally by patients to ease the symptoms of a variety of 
conditions, including AIDS and the side effects of chemotherapy.

The new program in Canada is not perfect. Doctors complain that 
they're being put in a position of recommending a drug that hasn't 
been subjected to rigorous clinical testing. Patients fret about all 
the paperwork needed to qualify as a legal user in Canada.

Nevertheless, Canada is doing something to help people in need, and 
that puts it a step ahead of the United States on the issue. Many 
patients report an easing of symptoms with marijuana use, and there 
are qualified physicians who feel the drug has a place in treating 
some people. The paperwork in Canada may be burdensome, but it's not 

On this side of the border the problem is in the U.S. Congress. The 
U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that federal laws making marijuana 
illegal cannot be voided by state laws, including Maine's, that make 
the drug legal for medical users.

The ruling was sound as an interpretation of law, but it 
unfortunately leaves states with little leeway. That's why we would 
favor legislation in Congress that would either make the drug 
available by prescription or enable states to provide it to needy 
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