Pubdate: Thu, 16 Aug 2001
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2001 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Alexandra Paul
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Folks Seeking Medical Marijuana Discover Dealers Often Easier To Find Than 

A definite demand for medical marijuana exists in Manitoba judging by calls 
for pot. Clinics that care for the terminally ill and support groups for 
people with a host of chronic diseases are reporting calls from people who 
want to toke legally.

"We're getting people from other organizations and other diseases calling 
us to ask us if we know where to find a dealer," said a staff worker with 
the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Manitoba.

Services director Tracy Brown says the calls surprise her.

"Isn't that bizarre? How they got our name I have no idea," Brown said.

She added the society doesn't deal in dealers.

Those calls, mostly from terminally ill patients, are in addition to 
legitimate calls from MS sufferers.

"There are a lot of inquiries right now; we're averaging seven calls a 
week," she said.

Callers want to know about how to get pot, how it helps, its side effects 
and interactions with prescription drugs and how to grow it or how to find 
a dealer.

The society refers some calls to the federal government and other callers 
are told to phone their own doctors.

Some -- including people who have smoked pot illegally for medical 
conditions for years -- have hung up dejected by the prospect of dealing 
with the federal bureaucracy.

"They say they're already tired and they don't want to fill out more 
paperwork, Brown said.

Manitoba's doctors have gone on the record with their objections to dealing 
with the weed -- in some cases it's easier to find a dealer than it is a 
doctor for pot.

In Manitoba, most of the calls for pot are coming from people with cancer, 
MS and HIV.

At the Village Clinic, about half a dozen applications from patients were 
filed ahead of the federal deadline. Since the deadline another dozen or 
two have called with an interest in filling them out.

The clinic is determined not to be seen as a soft touch in the 
controversial issue.

"It's not just willy-nilly fill a form out and boom, boom. They'll say no 
in some cases. They're taking this very seriously," said Roger Procyk, 
co-ordinator of prevention education.
- ---
MAP posted-by: GD