HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html First Medical Marijuana Crop Harvested
Pubdate: Sat, 30 Sep 2000
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2000 The Toronto Star
Contact:  One Yonge St., Toronto ON, M5E 1E6
Fax: (416) 869-4322
Author: Tracey Tyler, Legal Affairs reporter
Bookmarks: Terry Parker:
Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada


Church St. Resident Doesn't Want His Balcony Pot Farm

Jim Wakeford has had 19 girls living on his apartment balconies since

"I call them my upstairs girls and my downstairs girls," he said.
"Aren't they pretty?"

But they won't be there much longer.

It's harvest time in medical marijuana land.

And Wakeford's "girls" - 1-metre-high cloned British Columbia
marijuana plants of various strains - are being gathered in what is
believed to be Canada's first federally sanctioned pot harvest.

Wakeford, who has AIDS, is among the first of 71 chronically ill
Canadians granted exemptions from Ottawa that allow them to use
marijuana to treat their symptoms without being prosecuted for drug

But since buying pot still carries the risk of criminal charges,
Wakeford says he's been forced to grow his own.

And while his first crop may look promising - bushy green plants with
pink flowers fill his front balcony, overlooking Church St. - Wakeford
is angry about having to do a job he believes is a federal

As part of a long battle to get Ottawa to supply sick Canadians with
the drug, Wakeford and his lawyers have taken their case to the
Ontario Court of Appeal. Arguments are expected this fall.

A balcony pot farm is labour-intensive and expensive, Wakeford

In his case, creating it involved flying to B. C. to get plants from a
contact willing to supply them, providing a continuous light source in
the seedling stage, and weekly fertilizing.

"It's taken about 10 people to help me, because I'm not well

Wakeford's friend Barrie Dalley, who also has an exemption, doesn't
have a balcony. He's struggling to grow his plants near a window. But
they're small, and his exemption only allows him to grow three at a
time, a point he thinks Health Minister Allan Rock should ponder.

"I'm wondering how Mr. Rock thinks three plants, which can only be
grown about once in this Canadian season, is supposed to give enough
medicine to a Canadian for the whole year."

Osgoode Hall law school professor

Rock recently decided the federal government will supply medical
marijuana to Canadians with exemptions, said spokesperson Roslyn
Tremblay. But the process cannot begin until a supplier is chosen, and
the government will go through the necessary steps this fall, she added.

The government received 71 bids in a tendering process that closed in
June. Documents prepared for the tender say the supplier will be
required to grow 605 kilograms of marijuana in differing
concentrations over five years, plus conduct lab tests, produce rolled
cigarettes and establish a bulk supply of the drug.

But Osgoode Hall law school professor Alan Young, one of two lawyers
representing Wakeford, said Rock and federal bureaucrats are moving in
different directions.

Documents for the bidding process speak only of growing marijuana for
clinical trials, which means sick people would have to qualify for the
trials to get a supply, Young said.

"There is no other medicine that is distributed in such a cavalier

Young and lawyer Louis Sokolov are also asking the appeal court for an
exemption from prosecution for caregivers who help cultivate the plants.

Meanwhile, with a snip of his red-handled pruning shears, Wakeford
continues his harvest.

First, he cuts down the entire plant and has it hung upside down in a
drying room for seven to 10 days. Because flowers are a key
ingredient, only female plants are used.

Wakeford will share his harvest with four friends, including Dalley,
who have exemptions or are in the process of getting them. While his
plants have taken all summer to grow, the supply should last about two
months, he said, stepping back into his apartment.

Nearby is a table piled with documents relating to his court

One strikes Wakeford as somewhat funny. It confirms that Ottawa
supplies pot to police forces to train drug-sniffing dogs, he says.

"They'll provide it for dogs, but not to people who are sick."
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