HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Legal Pot Available On Jan 1
Pubdate: Sat, 22 Dec 2001
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2001 The Gazette, a division of Southam Inc.
Author: Aaron Derfel, Montreal Gazette
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Health Canada announced yesterday the first batch of medicinal marijuana 
will be available as of Jan. 1, and is of "good quality."

The government will be contacting the more than 680 Canadians authorized to 
possess marijuana for medical purposes to determine whether they are 
interested in purchasing the weed.

However, there are two questions that haven't been answered: the price, and 
how it will be distributed.

"As far as any distribution plan is concerned, it will have to ensure three 
things: privacy of the patients, security and reliability," said a Health 
Canada source. "Price is something that is yet to be determined. The 
marijuana will be affordable, but it will depend on demand and the 
distribution mechanism."

The government signed a deal last year with Prairie Plant Systems of 
Saskatoon to grow the marijuana in an underground mine in Flin Flon, Man. 
The company has harvested 185 kilograms for Jan. 1.

During a visit to the mine last August, Health Minister Allan Rock said 
medicinal marijuana is justified on "compassionate grounds" for patients 
suffering from intolerable pain.

The Canadian Medical Association, however, has argued against the policy, 
noting Health Canada has not yet approved marijuana as a drug.

In the last couple of years, at least 10 "compassion clubs" have set up 
across the country, selling marijuana to patients. Pierre Hamel, a 
volunteer of the Compassion Club on Rachel St. in Montreal, said yesterday 
that he was pleased that there is now a legal supply.

"Basically, it's good news because some people will benefit from that," 
Hamel said. "It's a first step, but we have to go much further than that."

Hamel noted that the federal marijuana contains 5 to 6 per cent THC - the 
active ingredient in cannabis - and that's too low for patients in great 
pain. The Compassion Club, for example, sell marijuana with THC levels as 
high as 17 per cent.

Hamel urged Ottawa to allow compassion clubs to sell pot, saying they are 
the most willing and the most experienced.
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