HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Potent Pot Promised
Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jan 2002
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2002, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Shane Holladay
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Medical Marijuana 'Will Be Anything But Weak,' Vows Government Grower

The first crop of federal medical pot won't hit the streets until spring 
but will pack enough punch to keep patients satisfied, says the official 
government grower.

It will probably be two or three months before people with medical 
exemptions will have access to his crop because Health Canada has yet to 
decide how medical marijuana will be packaged and distributed, said Brent 
Zettl, president of Prairie Plant Systems.

Zettl's company operates the federal government's grow operation, buried in 
a rebuilt and ultra-secure mine a kilometre underground in Flin Flon, Man.

"Bearing in mind that nowhere else in the world has this ever been done 
before, international agreements about controlled substances make this a 
bit more of an onerous task for Health Canada," said Zettl.

Ministry officials need a reliable and secure distribution system that 
ensures the privacy of medical exemptees entitled under law to use the drug 
to control their symptoms, said Health Canada spokesman Paige Raymond Kovach.

As well, Canada needs to figure out a way to legally provide a drug that it 
and many other countries have agreed to ban, she said.

Critics have said the government's plan to produce its own pot is doomed 
because it asked for weak weed, from plants with far less of the active 
ingredient THC than what's available in the street drug.

"It will be anything but weak," said Zettl.

The federal contract was for a plant with five or six per cent THC content, 
but Zettl said his last crop tested at about 10%.

"My goal is, when they get the stuff and they try it they'll say it really 
works, that it's good stuff," he said.

THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, which is one measure of the potency 
of the drug.

Edmonton compassion club operator Munir Ahmad said that compared to pot on 
the street, which can have between 15% and 20% THC content or more, the 
government's crop is still only mediocre.

"Unless they're virtually giving it away, it's not worth it," said Ahmad.

"It's already a waste of money for the government to pay a company to grow 
what's essentially a weed."

Ahmad said many medical exemptees who use his compassion club said they 
would be more comfortable with a legal source of pot, but only as long as 
it was either as strong as what's available on the street or cheaper.

Medical exemptee Greg, who didn't want his real name used, said he would 
buy pot off the black market rather than low-potency marijuana from the 

"You can't control the pain with pot that weak," he said. "The government 
just needs to have a product that is comparable to street-level pot."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth