Pubdate: Mon, 16 Apr 2007
Source: Western Star, The (CN NF)
Page: 5
Copyright: 2007 The Western Star
Author: Dean Beeby, CP
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal - Canada)


OTTAWA - The federal government charges patients 15 times more for
certified medical marijuana than it pays to buy the weed in bulk from
its official supplier, newly released documents show.

Critics say it's unconscionable to charge that high a markup to some
of the country's sickest citizens, who have little income and are
often cut off from their medical marijuana supply when they can't pay
their government dope bills.

Records obtained under the Access to Information Act show that Health
Canada pays $328.75 for each kilogram of bulk medical marijuana
produced by Prairie Plant Systems Inc.

The company currently has a $10.3-million contract with Health Canada,
which expires at the end of September, to grow standardized medical
marijuana in an abandoned mine shaft in Flin Flon, Man.

Health Canada, in turn, sells the marijuana to a small group of
authorized users for $150 - plus GST - for each 30-gram bag of
ground-up flowering tops, with a strength of up to 14 per cent THC,
the main active ingredient. That works out to $5,000 for each
kilogram, or a markup of more than 1,500 per cent.

"It's impossible for a person on disability," said Ron Lawrence, 38, a
burn victim in Windsor, Ont., who needs medical marijuana to control
severe pain. "The sickest people are the ones that need it the most .
. . they're the ones who don't work."

Health Canada has become a reluctant marijuana supplier, forced into
the role by a series of court decisions that have accepted scientific
research indicating cannabis can relieve pain when other medications

The courts have also said patients should not be forced into the black
market to purchase their medicine.

Currently, 1,742 patients are authorized by Health Canada to possess
dried marijuana as a medication.

Of these, 1,040 are licensed to grow their own, and another 167 people
are licensed to grow marijuana for the exclusive use of licensed patients. 
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