HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html NDP Pharmacare Plan Gone To Pot?
Pubdate: Sun, 30 May 2004
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Kathleen Harris
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


TORONTO -- An NDP pharmacare program could pay for prescription pot, Jack
Layton suggested yesterday. The NDP leader said marijuana that's required as
medication to help people suffering from AIDS, cancer and other serious
illnesses might be eligible under his proposed national drug program.

"It might fit. That's going to have to be a decision made as we look at the
particular medications in consultation with the medical profession," he
said. "I've drawn a lot of inspiration from those who are tackling
catastrophic illnesses and who are seeking the support for medical use."

Layton's proposed pharmacare program would be phased in, initially helping
low-income families or those saddled with massive drug bills. His plan also
calls for cutting drug costs through a national bulk-buying program.

"The whole approach has been to help people who are struggling with illness,
and the medicinal use (of marijuana) is something a lot of people are
supporting across the country," he said.


NDP MP Libby Davies said pot should be treated like any other medicine.

"If it's something that's recognized as a therapeutic course of treatment or
something that deals with somebody's symptoms and it's medically prescribed,
then I guess the question is why wouldn't it be available on the same basis
as other substances?" she said.

The NDP has opposed key parts of the Liberal decriminalization bill, arguing
for a less stringent policy for recreational use. According to policy
documents, the NDP would introduce a "non-punitive, rule-based approach"
which emphasizes prevention, education and health promotion.

It would also ensure provinces have the resources to prevent and detect
impaired driving.

Yesterday Layton spoke to a union crowd in Toronto, where he condemned
Martin's record of eroding social safety nets. Urging CUPE members not to
give the Liberals another chance, he warned that "regressive" health
premiums imposed by the Ontario Grits are a warning sign of things to come
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