HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Double-Talk On Weed
Pubdate: Wed, 21 Aug 2002
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2002 Southam Inc.


We never thought we'd say this, but we're beginning to miss Allan Rock as 
federal health minister. In general, he didn't do much with the job, but at 
least he pushed the medicinal marijuana file forward. Under Mr. Rock's 
tenure, the health department developed rules that allow sufferers of 
certain medical conditions to grow and smoke their own pot. His department 
also hired a firm to produce marijuana cigarettes for delivery to hundreds 
of sick Canadians.

But Anne McLellan, his successor, is dragging her feet. Speaking at a 
meeting of the Canadian Medical Association on Monday, she said Ottawa will 
not distribute marijuana for medicinal purposes until clinical trials are 
completed. (Yesterday, she claimed her comments did not signify a change in 
government policy. But how can that be? The clinical trials she speaks of 
as a precondition have yet to begin, and will likely take years to complete.)

Ms. McLellan is reportedly apprehensive that any move to make marijuana 
available would antagonize the Americans. She also argued on Monday that 
abetting marijuana use might put the Health Department in an "ironic" 
position -- because it would conflict with her campaign to fight tobacco.

Two points are in order: First, there is no "irony" in letting sick people 
use marijuana even as we discourage others from taking up nicotine. 
Medicinal marijuana can help alleviate the nausea associated with AIDS 
wasting syndrome and chemotherapy, as well as the symptoms of glaucoma and 
epilepsy. If Ms. McLellan has data that show tobacco, which kills 70,000 
Canadians every year, has similar benefits, she should take it to the New 
England Journal of Medicine. Otherwise, spare us the misleading comparisons.

Second, why is Ms. McLellan afraid of bucking the United States in its 
disastrous war on drugs? The feds keep telling us they don't want to send 
Canadian soldiers to Iraq. Why would we split with Uncle Sam on a quick war 
he'll win, yet play sidekick in a decades-long conflict we know he'll lose?
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth