Pubdate: Wed, 12 May 1999
Source: Toronto Star (Canada)
Page: A7
Copyright: 1999, The Toronto Star
Author: Tim Harper, Toronto Star Ottawa Bureau


Guidelines On Marijuana Trials Expected Soon

OTTAWA - Health Minister Allan Rock will not appeal an Ontario Superior
Court ruling which allows Toronto AIDS activist Jim Wakeford to legally
smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Rock said yesterday he is proceeding with plans to begin clinical trials on
the medicinal use of marijuana and will announce details and guidelines for
the tests by the end of June.

"I've read the judgment. I don't want to appeal it," Rock said.

The court said Wakeford could carry and smoke marijuana in public until Rock
decides whether to grant Wakeford a special exemption under the Controlled
Drugs and Substances Act.

Rock said the court judgment affects only Wakeford and cannot be applied to
other victims claiming the need for marijuana for medicinal use.

Health Canada has 20 applications from Canadians who have chronic or
terminal illnesses who have applied to Rock for exemptions from marijuana laws.

"We're going to start clinical trials, we're going to start making marijuana
available to people for medical purposes by the end of June," he said.

"We're on that timetable."

But an aide in Rock's office later cautioned that that did not necessarily
mean the trials would be under way by that time.

Although Rock will eventually make a decision regarding the exemption,
officials say he will try to show flexibility for those who need marijuana
for therapeutic purposes while Health Canada is testing the drug.

Health Canada is still grappling with issues such as where the pot will be
grown, by whom and under what conditions.

Wakeford, 54, had asked the court in February, 1998, for permission to use

He had applied to Rock for an exemption last September but his request has
been in bureaucratic limbo.

Carole Bouchard, a senior health department official, testified last week
that although Wakeford's application would be fast-tracked, she couldn't say
when a decision would be made.

Wakeford has been smoking marijuana daily since 1996. He has said it is the
only thing he has found that reduces nausea and makes him feel hungry enough
to keep eating. 

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