HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Medicinal Pot May Soon Be In Drugstores
Pubdate: Thu, 19 Feb 2004
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Province
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


OTTAWA (CanWest News Service)-- Medicinal marijuana may soon be available 
in pharmacies.

Officials from Health Canada met behind closed doors yesterday with 
pharmacists, medical experts, police and medicinal pot users to discuss 
access to medicinal marijuana.

"If you wanted the biggest patient concern, it's to be able to get a safe, 
affordable supply of medicinal marijuana. That's what we need," said Greg 
Robinson, who uses marijuana because it alleviates his AIDS symptoms.

Ray Joubert of the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacies said that there was a 
lot of support for bringing marijuana into local pharmacies.

"I think there's growing interest," Joubert said. "There seems to be 
growing support as well."

Richard Viau, an official with Health Canada's controlled-substances 
program, said the department has wrapped up a series of consultations on 
the issue. The findings from those meetings will be part of a series of 
recommendations to be published later this spring.

Viau expects the proposals to land in cabinet for final approval by the end 
of this summer.

After that, a pilot project to get marijuana distributed through pharmacies 
could begin.

However, the process of getting all pharmacies on board could take some 
wrangling because the provinces are responsible for health care.

"If the pilot proved to be successful, then the provinces and territories 
would have to look at it and modify their legislation to allow for this to 
happen," Viau said.

As of early February, there were 710 medicinal marijuana users in Canada, 
he said. Many of these are cancer and AIDS patients, who use the drug to 
alleviate nausea, pain and lack of appetite.

Other issues discussed yesterday included eliminating the red tape between 
patients and legal access to pot, and disclosing medicinal marijuana users 
to police.

"It would only seem reasonable that patients would want to avoid having to 
obtain access through an illegal source which brings with it all its 
inherent dangers," said Chris McNeil, who chairs the Canadian chief of 
police drug abuse committee.
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