Pubdate: Sat, 07 Apr 2001
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2001 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Author: Mary-Jane Egan
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


OTTAWA -- Canadians with severe forms of arthritis will be able to possess 
and smoke marijuana legally if they can prove other drugs don't alleviate 
the pain.

Long-awaited regulations on medicinal marijuana will also allow terminal 
patients, and people with AIDS, multiple sclerosis (MS), spinal-cord 
injuries, epilepsy and other serious conditions to use the drug if it eases 
their symptoms.

"Canada is acting compassionately by allowing people who are suffering from 
grave and debilitating illnesses to have access to marijuana for medical 
purposes," Health Minister Allan Rock said yesterday.

Every patient wishing to use medical pot would have to either grow it or 
designate another person to grow it for him or her.

The measures will also allow the government to license third parties to 
grow marijuana for individual sufferers who can't grow it for themselves, a 
news release said.

A designated grower would not be allowed to supply more than three patients.

The news heartened Londoner Lynn Harichy, a longtime crusader for legalized 
medicinal marijuana.

Harichy said she's still waiting for Rock to provide details on how the new 
rules will work.

The ideal solution is blanket legalization for all adults, regardless of 
medical conditions, she said.

"When I was growing in my backyard, people would come in and cut my 
plants," she said.

"If it was legalized for everyone, I wouldn't have to worry about that or 
about other people profiting from us marijuana smokers."

Under the new system, marijuana would be used to alleviate persistent 
muscle spasms, seizures, severe pain, nausea, weight loss and anorexia, 
among other symptoms.

For those allowed to produce the drug, the new rules will set maximums for 
the number of indoor and outdoor plants to be grown, authorize a grower to 
receive and possess seeds and allow for site inspections and 
criminal-record checks of designated growers.

In December, Ottawa awarded Prairie Plant Systems Inc. of Saskatoon, Sask., 
a contract to grow marijuana for Health Canada for research purposes.

The first crop is expected to be available this year. Rock denied that the 
new rules are the "thin edge of the wedge" for legalizing marijuana.

"I don't buy that," Rock said outside the Commons. "We've had medical 
access to heroin and morphine for a long time and it hasn't been the thin 
edge of the wedge for legalizing those drugs.

"I think people can distinguish in their own minds between, on the one 
hand, allowing medical access to marijuana and, on the other hand, allowing 
it to be used recreationally."
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