HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html First Clinical Pot Trial To Use U.S. Stash
Pubdate: Thu, 10 Oct 2002
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2002, The Globe and Mail Company
Page: A6
Author: Brian Laghi
Bookmark: (Walters, John)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


OTTAWA -- Canada's first clinical study on the use of medicinal marijuana 
will use cannabis grown in the United States while a large, Canadian-grown 
stash of the drug sits on ice.

The United States National Institute on Drug Abuse has agreed to supply the 
drug for a Toronto-based trial, even though that country's drug czar 
disapproves of the program.

Meanwhile, about 200 kilograms of cannabis grown with Ottawa's sanction in 
an abandoned Manitoba mine sits in storage and will not be used on 
patients, Health Canada says.

"It's ridiculous," said Alan Young, a Toronto lawyer who is fighting the 
federal government in court, arguing that regulations controlling the use 
of medical marijuana violate constitutional rights.

He wants the Canadian-grown drug, created as part of a $5.7-million, 
five-year federal contract by Prairie Plant Systems, released for domestic use.

"It really begs the question why they've awarded this contract in the first 

The clinical study will be conducted by the Community Research Initiative 
of Toronto in partnership with St. Michael's Hospital and the Canadian HIV 
Trials Network.

A spokesman for the community research organization, Derek Thaczuk, said it 
inquired about using the Canadian cannabis, but was told by Health Canada 
that the strains were not adequate.

Mr. Thaczuk said the trial, expected to start within two weeks, will 
include 32 patients with HIV infection. It is intended to look at whether 
the drug can stimulate appetite and weight gain in the patients, and will 
take place over a six-month period.

Mr. Thaczuk said the group did not want to wait for the Canadian cannabis 
because it has been working for two years to get the project off the 
ground. The U.S. institute was able to provide the drug in four different 
dosage strengths -- a requirement for the study -- while the quality of the 
Canadian drug was not known.

The director of the U.S. national drug policy, John Walters, has spoken out 
strongly against the medicinal marijuana program and decriminalizing the drug.

Health Canada spokesman Andrew Swift said the drug that has already been 
grown in Flin Flon, Man., will not be used on patients, although it may be 
used in studies of second-hand marijuana smoke.
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