Pubdate: Tue, 16 Sep 2003
Source: Halifax Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2003 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Dean Beeby, Canadian Press
Also: Photos of both Health Canada's "shwag" and the medical grade cannabis 
supplied by compassion clubs, along with other research data can be found 
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Ottawa - Some of the first patients to smoke Health Canada's
government-approved marijuana say it's "disgusting" and want their
money back.

"It's totally unsuitable for human consumption," said Jim Wakeford,
58, an AIDS patient in Gibsons, B.C.

"It gave me a slight buzziness for about three to five minutes, and
that was it. I got no other effect from it."

Barrie Dalley, a 52-year-old Toronto man who uses marijuana to combat
the nausea associated with AIDS, said the Health Canada dope actually
made him sick to his stomach.

"I threw up," Dalley said Monday. "It made me nauseous because I had
to use so much of it. It was so weak in potency that I really threw

Both men are returning their 30-gram bags, and Dalley is demanding his
money back - $150 plus taxes. Wakeford is returning his unpaid bill
for two of the bags with a letter of complaint.

A third AIDS patient says he's also unhappy with the product, which is
supposed to contain 10.2 per cent THC, the main active ingredient.

"I'm still smoking it - I would prefer better, but it's all I've got,"
said Jari Dvorak, 62, in Toronto. "I think Health Canada certainly
should do better with the quality."

All three are among 10 patients who have registered with Health Canada
to buy dope directly from the government to alleviate their medical
symptoms. Another 39 applications are pending.

The department was compelled to begin direct distribution in July,
following an Ontario court order this year that said needy patients
should not be forced to get their cannabis on the streets or from
authorized growers, who themselves obtain seeds or cuttings illegally.

The marijuana is being grown for Health Canada deep underground in a
vacant mine section in Flin Flon, Man., by Prairie Plant Systems on a
$5.75-million contract. The department originally intended that the
product go first to accredited researchers to demonstrate whether
cannabis is medically effective.

Health Minister Anne McLellan has said she opposes the direct
distribution of government cannabis to patients and that the program
will end if the department wins its appeal of the Ontario court decision.

The government dope also came under fire Monday from Canadians for
Safe Access, a patients' rights group that is pressing for supplies of
safe, effective marijuana.

Laboratory tests indicate the Health Canada product has only about
three per cent THC - not the 10.2 per cent advertised - and contains
contaminants such as lead and arsenic, said spokesman Philippe Lucas
of Victoria.

"This particular product wouldn't hold a candle to street-level
cannabis," he said.

But Lucas declined to identify the three labs that did the testing,
other than to indicate they're in Vancouver, saying he fears the
facilities might suffer repercussions from Health Canada.

He also would not say how the group obtained the sample of government

A spokeswoman for Health Canada said the department can't accept
laboratory findings from anonymous facilities.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin