HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html 'Poor' Pot From Only Legal Grow-Op
Pubdate: Fri, 13 Oct 2006
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Brookes Merritt, Staff Writer


Activists Blame Fed Tories

Pot activists are blaming the federal Tories for wasting potential 
research dollars by extending a contract with Canada's only legal 
grow-op, just weeks after slashing funding for medicinal marijuana studies.

"It looks like the feds are gearing up to force all medicinal pot 
users to buy through Prairie Plant Systems, whose product is 
downright poor," said Vancouver pot activist Phillipe Lucas.

Prairie Plant Systems is the Saskatoon-based company contracted by 
Health Canada to grow marijuana and other plants for medical research.

The company has been criticized by many medicinal users of providing 
weak pot that is hard to light and treats only a small spectrum of ailments.

Recently, the government extended its contract with the company. It 
has not disclosed the details, but activists claim it's worth $2.1 
million over 15 months, and was never tendered.

"The feds are phasing out private medicinal growing licenses in 2007, 
yet they're giving money to Prairie Plant Systems to grow more pot. 
If you ask me it looks like they're getting into bed together," Lucas said.

"Unless that company demonstrates its ability to provide superior 
product and choice, people will continue to get their marijuana on 
the black market."

Prairie Plant Systems CEO Brent Zettl said allegations his product is 
too weak are "completely unfounded."

"They can't show a shred of clinical evidence to support that," he 
said, adding returns of his product have steadily declined since they 
first bid for the government job in 2001.

"Our patient list is increasing every month," he said.

His company currently supplies only one type of marijuana, a "general 
treatment that helps most clients."

Zettl admitted his weed won't be suitable for everyone.

"We're currently researching - with our own money - other strains, 
and we know it's going to be important to have those available in the future."

Activists, including at least one MP, a Conservative Senator, and the 
Canadian AIDS Society, continue to call for a performance audit on 
Health Canada's contract with Prairie Plant Systems.
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