HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Rock Planned To Release Pot, Letter Says
Pubdate: Wed, 18 Sep 2002
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2002, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Brian Laghi


By Halting Plan, Ottawa Acted In Bad Faith, Advocates For Medical Marijuana 
Tell Court

OTTAWA -- Court documents show that Allan Rock was poised to distribute 
medicinal marijuana just as he was replaced by Anne McLellan as Health 
Minister, say lawyers who are suing the government for acting in bad faith. 
The suggestion is included in a draft letter written for Mr. Rock by 
assistant deputy minister of health Dann Michols in November and filed with 
the Ontario Superior Court in connection with the suit. The letter, which 
was not sent, was to be distributed to hundreds of ill people who are 
qualified to possess the drug for medicinal purposes. "Initial supplies are 
expected to be available for distribution early in 2002," says the letter, 
which is included in the court records. "Although final distribution plans 
are not yet available, you may be assured that Health Canada is currently 
working to develop the distribution mechanisms that would permit you to 
receive this marijuana." A group of advocates for medicinal marijuana is 
suing the government, saying it changed plans for wide distribution in 
midstream by making the marijuana available only to those participating in 
clinical trials.

The group argues that the government has acted in bad faith, and it wants a 
federal crop of marijuana released for use by patients who are exempt from 
prosecution for using the drug. The advocates want the court to order the 
government to reverse its decision not to distribute the marijuana. Alan 
Young, a lawyer representing the group, said the delay in distributing the 
drug runs counter to Mr. Rock's pledge of expeditious delivery, and the 
letter from the department proves it. "We have, on record, a draft letter 
that he was going to send to authorized Canadians indicating that once the 
mechanisms of distribution were established, they would be receiving 
medicine in short order," Mr. Young said. The two sides are in court 
tomorrow and Friday. The court case underlines how Ms. McLellan and Mr. 
Rock differ on their interpretation of the program's goals.

Mr. Rock maintains that he had always intended to distribute the cannabis 
to people who are exempt from criminal sanction while conducting clinical 

Ms. McLellan has said the government has agreed only to conduct clinical 
trials. The draft letter was written after police charged a man with 
trafficking in marijuana, despite his arguments that he was providing it to 
ill people.

In an accompanying memo, Mr. Michols states that the draft letter would 
assure exempt Canadians that marijuana would be made available, provided 
those who receive it agree to provide information for monitoring and 
research purposes. In an affidavit filed by the government, a Health Canada 
official said the marijuana produced by Prairie Plant Systems was intended 
for research purposes only. Cindy Cripps-Prawak also said in her June 27 
statement that the cannabis did not meet regulatory standards and providing 
itto people outside clinical trials could expose them to health risks, she 
said. In a subsequent cross-examination on her affidavit by Mr. Young, Ms. 
Cripps-Prawak said the government never considered distribution of 
marijuana outside of clinical trials. " . . . I don't believe it has ever 
been the intent of this particular department or this initiative to make 
marijuana freely available to those exempted Canadians without the context 
of some sort of monitoring and research context," Ms. Prawak says in a 
transcript of the proceeding.
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