Pubdate: Thu, 16 May 2002
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Toronto Star
Author: Tim Harper


McLellan Said To Be Misrepresenting Rock's Weed Crop

OTTAWA  A high-level dust-up about the quality of government-grown pot is 
creating a buzz in the capital.

In fact, the marijuana mess threatens to spill over into Prime Minister 
Jean Chretien's cabinet.

Senior government sources said yesterday they believed Health Minister Anne 
McLellan was deliberately misrepresenting the quality of the weed being 
grown in northern Manitoba because she has developed cold feet and does not 
want to follow through on a government plan to provide marijuana to 
Canadians who need it for medicinal purposes.

They also have the backing of Prairie Plant Systems Inc. president Brent 
Zettl, who wrote to McLellan, defending the quality of the marijuana he is 
growing for the government.

A week ago, McLellan told a parliamentary committee the federal marijuana 
was impure and the first crop contained some 185 varieties of pot.

She said the uneven potency and purity was a "problem'' and would delay 
delivery several months. She ascribed the problem to the government grower 
having to use seeds police confiscated from illegal growers.

She said Canadians waiting for medicinal pots would have to be patient.

"That's ridiculous,'' one source said last night. "It's legitimate 
marijuana and they have medicinal needs.''

McLellan appeared to place the blame at the feet of her predecessor in 
health, Allan Rock, when she told reporters the problem developed last 
summer after it was learned Ottawa could not get the marijuana seeds it 
wanted from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Making clinical marijuana available to those with less than a year to live, 
or to those who have AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries 
or epilepsy, with doctors' approval, was a major Rock health move.

More than 200 ill Canadians have sought and gained permission to use the 
government marijuana.

McLellan "may be looking for a way out. Her reaction has been puzzling,'' 
one source said. McLellan was in Europe, unavailable for comment. Zettl did 
not return phone calls.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart