HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Flin Flon Pot to Escape Fiery Fate
Pubdate: Mon, 18 Nov 2002
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2002, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Peter Cheney
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Crop won't be burned, but used for testing and germinating, McLellan's
office says

Flin Flon's underground marijuana farm has generated more than its share of
headlines, but when it was reported this weekend that the operation's entire
harvest was to be burned by Health Canada, Flin Flon Mayor Dennis Ballard
had just one request: that he be allowed to stand close.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's a political story, not a dope story," said
Mr. Ballard, who has found himself alternately amused and appalled by the
machinations that have surrounded the curious industry that came to his town
two years ago: the first crop of marijuana to be grown by a private company
under licence for the federal government.

On Saturday, a Quebec newspaper reported that the entire crop was to be
burned by Health Canada because its quality was too uneven. Last night, Anne
McLellan's assistant, Farah Mohamed, said the report was completely wrong,
and that the Flin Flon plants were to be used for lab testing and to
germinate a further crop.

The unsubstantiated burning report was the latest in a series of political
developments surrounding the marijuana, which was grown in an abandoned mine
by a company called Prairie Plants Systems. The program, which was
commissioned by former health minister Allan Rock, has come under criticism
by Ms. McLellan, his successor, who has made it clear that she has

Many of the problems stem from the fact that Prairie Plants was forced to
use seeds seized in RCMP drug raids. Because of this, the crop it produced
for the government contained 185 different varieties of marijuana. Ms.
McLellan has said this mixed quality has made it unsuitable for distribution
to Canadians who have permits to use marijuana for medical reasons.

Mr. Ballard said the only thing wrong with the Flin Flon dope is the
politics that control it.

"Anne McLellan is a Paul Martin follower," he said. "She doesn't want
anything that Allan Rock did to look good."

The marijuana mine has had little impact on the economy of Flin Flon, he

"It's 10 jobs at the bottom of a secret mine. That doesn't have much

One unexpected beneficiary of the mine and its publicity has been Chris
Pilz, proprietor of a skateboard shop called The Zig Zag Zone. Mr. Pilz has
made a small fortune over the past two years by printing shirts that play on
the theme of Flin Flon's underground stash.

One of the earlier models reads "Ganja Mine -- Flin Flon, Marijuana Growing
Capital of Canada."

"You can't take it too seriously," Mr. Pilz says.

"The dope has given Flin Flon its 15 minutes of fame, and it's still going."
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