Source: Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal 
(Official journal of the Canadian Pharmacists Association)
Pubdate: February 1998 (Volume 131 Number 1) 
Section: Editorial, page 3
Author: Andrew Reinboldt
Contact:  The cover story 'The Case for Medical Marijuana,' discussed in this
editorial is at:


A cover story on medical marijuana seemed risky at first. Risky because
this is a healthcare journal, and despite all the excitement in the
newspapers, the only thing we know for certain about pot is that it gets
people high. And possibly arrested.

So our interest in the subject might annoy some readers.

But if the polls are correct, a strong majority (83%) of Canadians support
legalizing marijuana for medical use, while 51 per cent want it legalized
outright. There is some backing in the courts as well, an Ontario judge
ruling in December that it is unconstitutional to deprive Terry Parker, a
42-year-old epileptic man, of marijuana for his illness.

The decision sends a strong message, and only the most stubborn critics can
slight the ruling or the claims of AIDS patients, and those with multiple
sclerosis or cancer, who say that smoking pot eases their suffering.
Current medical research is uncertain.

Meanwhile, some activists plan to supply patients with marijuana despite
the penalties, and they can be severe punishments under Canadian law range
as high as life imprisonment.

(United States' law enforcement agencies have so far turned a blind eye to
similar efforts there, where about 30 "cannabis buyers' clubs," mostly in
California, provide marijuana for medical use.)

If the anti-marijuana camp is offended by this development, it has a point.
There are laws, after all. But as long as Parliament declines to act, the
majority of Canadians who want the laws changed should be offended also.

A rational, open debate on marijuana is welcome and long overdue.

Incidentally, in researching his article, staff writer Steve McLaren
learned that pharmacists, ready or not, could soon be drawn into the fray.
We look forward to your comments.

While the timing of our marijuana feature was deliberate, we couldn't
predict the recent news from Britain, where the Queen Mother underwent a
second hip-replacement operation in as many years. The story makes our
feature on hip fractures in seniors (page 34) that much more appropriate.

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Checked-by: Richard Lake