HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Medical Marijuana In Canada
Pubdate: Sat, 23 Dec 2000
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2000 The New York Times Company
Contact:  229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036
Fax: (212) 556-3622
Author: Reuters
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


CALGARY, Alberta, Dec. 22 -- A mine deep in the tundra of northern
Canada has long yielded a steady supply of copper and zinc, but it
will soon produce a very different bounty -- the country's first supply
of legal marijuana.

The Health Ministry has awarded a $3.8 million contract to a company
that will grow the plant for medicinal purposes in its laboratory in
the mine, hundreds of feet below a lake near Flin Flon, Manitoba.

"The idea here is, we can use these underground growth-chamber
environments for the production of bio-pharmaceutical plants that
really require two things," Brent Zettl, president of the winning
bidder, Prairie Plant Systems, said today. "One is genetic
containment, and the second is security."

The five-year contract for the company, which is based in Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan, is the first awarded by Health Canada under a program to
gain a steady supply of standardized marijuana for research and therapy.

Research indicates that the drug can be effective in easing symptoms
of debilitating diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis, and
Canadians have recently been able to apply to the health minister for
exemptions from laws against possession.

But there has been no legal way to acquire the marijuana.

This month a judge in Alberta gave a multiple sclerosis patient in
Calgary permission to grow his own, saying the current legislation
made no sense if there was no legal means to get the marijuana.

"Canada is acting compassionately by allowing the use of marijuana by
people who are suffering from grave and debilitating illness," Health
Minister Allan Rock said in a statement today. "This marijuana will be
made available to people participating in structured research
programs, and to authorized Canadians using it for medical purposes
who agree to provide information to my department for monitoring and
research purposes."

Prairie Plant Systems will work to attain consistent quality for its
marijuana, and deliver at least some to government officials in the
form of cigarettes, Mr. Zettl said.

The company will obtain the seeds from research authorities in other
countries with similar medical marijuana programs, he said.
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