HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot Advocates Pass Advice To Ottawa
Pubdate: Thu, 03 Aug 2000
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2000 The Toronto Star
Contact:  One Yonge St., Toronto ON, M5E 1E6
Fax: (416) 869-4322
Website: http://www.thestar.com/
Forum: http://www.thestar.com/editorial/disc_board/

POT ADVOCATES PASS ADVICE TO OTTAWA

Montreal (CP) -- People with criminal records shouldn't be excluded from
supplying medicinal marijuana, a group that advocates the therapeutic use of
pot recommended yesterday.

Health Canada should consider the knowledge of long-time growers who may
have faced charges for growing marijuana, said Marc-Boris St-Maurice of the
Canadian Cannabis Coalition.

"Valuable experience in breeding marijuana is lost and nothing is gained by
this criteria," St-Maurice told a news conference.

Excluding them from supplying marijuana in medical trials to be conducted by
Ottawa isn't in the best interests of people who need it, he said.

Last year, Health Minister Allan Rock announced Ottawa would gather evidence
on the safety and effectiveness of marijuana in treating medical conditions.
Rock said the federal government was looking for suppliers of high-grade pot
for the trials.

The Canadian Cannabis Coalition made public a list of recommendations it
will give to Health Canada for the medical trials.

Advocates for the medicinal use of marijuana say pot can ease nausea and
stimulate appetite in people who suffer from symptoms of epilepsy, multiple
sclerosis, AIDS and other illnesses.

St-Maurice said Rock also has excluded small-scale growers from providing
medicinal pot.

St-Maurice volunteers at a Montreal centre called the Compassion Club, which
provides therapeutic pot to people with chronic illnesses. The centres also
operate in Toronto and Vancouver. Patients must have a doctor's prescription
to get marijuana.

Health Canada has the power to grant exemptions to people who want to use
pot for medicinal reasons, but it has only granted about 50 to date.

Health Canada wouldn't comment yesterday on the coalition's recommendations.
Spokesperson Roslyn Tremblay said Health Canada needs time to review the
proposals.

The coalition's comments came just two days after the Ontario Court of
Appeal declared unconstitutional the law that prohibits possession of
marijuana.

The court ruled the law fails to recognize that pot can be used for
medicinal purposes by people with chronic illnesses. It said if Ottawa
doesn't clarify the law within a year, marijuana possession will be legal
for anyone in Ontario.
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