HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Medical Use Of Marijuana Backed By Addiction Expert
Pubdate: Tuesday, July 20. 1999
Source: Calgary Herald (Canada)
Copyright: 1999 Calgary Herald
Contact:  P.O. Box 2400, Stn. M, Calgary, Alberta T2P 0W8
Fax: (403) 235-7379
Author:  Robert Walker


The medical director of Foothills Hospital's addiction centre is backing
federal Health Minister Allan Rock's move to legalize the medical use of

Dr. Nady el Guebaly, also the founding president of the International
Society for Addiction Medicine, said he supports the limited use of
marijuana for treating nausea associated with chemotherapy and as an
appetite stimulant for people suffering from AIDS.

But el Guebaly stressed marijuana should only be used on a short-term basis
under medically controlled conditions where other therapies have failed and
under the supervision of a review board.

The federal government last month allowed individuals to apply for
exemption from prosecution for possessing or cultivating marijuana.

Rock announced he had granted special exemptions from federal drug law to
two Ontario men with AIDS. Another 40 to 50 people have since applied for
exemption, said a Health Canada spokesman.

`This is about showing compassion to people, often dying, suffering from
grave, debilitating illness,' Rock told the Commons at the time. `It is
common sense,' the minister said during a recent visit to the city.

`We use heroin and morphine for pain relief. I think Canadians understand
if someone is in the terminal phases of fatal disease or (is) suffering a
serious degenerative health problem, if they feel that smoking marijuana
can help then they should have access under controlled circumstances.'

However, St. Sgt. Paul Laventure, head of the Calgary police drug unit,
said that, while marijuana is illegal, he will continue to enforce the law.
`I am not a doctor so I wouldn't comment on its medical use, although I
have deep sympathy for those with a medical condition.' he said.

Calgarian Grant Krieger, who has multiple sclerosis and advocates for
marijuana's medicinal use, criticized the caution shown by Rock and el
Guebaly on the drug. `Marijuana is 100 per cent safer than any
pharmaceuticals we use. Let the sick of this nation decide if it is safe
for general consumption,' Krieger said.

Krieger, 44, is the founder of the Universal Compassion Club. The club,
which has more than 30 members, is trying to line up medicinal-quality pot
for seriously ill and disabled people.

Dennis Jones, director for the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission's
southern Alberta addiction services, said approval to use marijuana must
only be given where the benefits outweigh any harmful effects.

`As with any drug, there is always some danger to it and the potential to
be abused.'

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