HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html She's Hardly a Pothead
Pubdate: Sat, 04 Nov 2006
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Natalie Pona, Toronto Sun
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal - Canada)


Spokesman for Canabinoid-Based Drugs Takes Bogeyman Out of Pot

Don't call Sara Lee Irwin a pothead.

Irwin, 49, smokes pot for the lingering effects of bone cancer, one of
the diseases medical marijuana can ease.

Irwin doesn't fit the stereotype of a typical user -- an image, she
said, that's changing as public acceptance of the drug's benefits grows.

"People do a double-take. (They say), 'Really? You're a cannabis user.
You really don't look like one,'" said Irwin, a federally-licensed
medical marijuana patient and spokesman for Cannasat Therapeutics, a
developer of cannabinoid-based drugs.

"The bogeyman has been taken out of it."

A survey commissioned by Cannasat found 80% of Canadians believe the
sick should have access to marijuana with a prescription.

But only 58% of Canadians are aware that medical marijuana is
available from Health Canada.

That ignorance is a concern, said Umar Syed, Cannasat's VP of
scientific and strategic affairs and a clinical pharmacist. He
estimated there are up to 400,000 Canadians using marijuana for
medical reasons. Only about 600 buy it from Health Canada, he said.

Buy It Legally

"There are a lot of people out there using marijuana medically who
don't know they can buy it legally," said Syed, whose company is
developing a top-secret cannabis delivery system. "In many ways for
symptom control it is a better drug than what is available on the market."

Though Cannasat has a financial interest in promoting its product and
medical marijuana, other groups also advocate pot's virtues.

"The raw plant is just the tip of the iceberg," said Neev, founder of
Toronto-based Cannabis As Living Medicine.

Neev, whose group helps patients fill out Health Canada's complex
medical marijuana licensing forms, said the country is a leader in the
field, and he was surprised at the survey finding showing that more
than half of Canadians are aware of Health Canada's medical marijuana

"That's pretty high considering no one's advertising it," he



58% of Canadians are aware of the availability of medical marijuana
from Health Canada

Regionally, awareness is highest in Quebec (67%) and Saskatchewan
(64%); lowest in Ontario (53%) and Manitoba (51%)

80% of Canadians believe adults should be able to use medical
marijuana with a physician's recommendation; more men (83%) agree than
women (77%)

Acceptance of marijuana use if recommended by a physician is very
high with 86% of those 18-29 believing it should be allowed vs 79% of
those 30 years of age and over

15% of Canadians know someone who uses marijuana for medical
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