HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Ontario Leads in Legalized Pot Use
Pubdate: Sat, 24 Oct 2009
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The London Free Press
Author: Kathleen Harris
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal - Canada)


But Many Patients Say They Face Hurdles Accessing a Quality,
Affordable Product

OTTAWA -- The number of Canadians legally permitted to use pot as
medicine has tripled during the last three years since the
Conservatives took power.

At last official count by Health Canada this past June, 4,029 people
were authorized to possess cannabis under Marijuana Medical Access
Regulations, 2,841 were allowed to grow their own plants and 481 had
special permission to grow it on behalf of another patient. That's up
from 1,273 who had permits in February 2006.

Ontario leads the legal pot pack with 1,631 licenced tokers, while
1,008 British Columbians have the right to light up. Manitoba, Alberta
and New Brunswick have the fewest authorizations and only 39 people
have permits in Newfoundland.

Ottawa resident Russell Barth, who legally smokes pot to help relieve
symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia, is
pleased authorized pot users are on the upward swing, but believes the
official tally represents a small fraction of those using marijuana
for treatment. Many patients don't bother to apply for a permit
because of onerous paperwork or can't find a doctor to sign their forms.

He said even when patients do have legal permission, they have trouble
accessing quality, affordable pot. They also face hurdles transporting
it and smoking it where they need it.

"It's obscene. It's systematic discrimination," he

Health Canada grants permission to people suffering from debilitating
illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, arthritis, epilepsy or

Barth said Conservative Bill C-15, which cracks down on drug offences,
including tougher penalties for marijuana trafficking, could impact
legal medicinal users by making access more costly and less secure.
Smaller growers and compassion clubs will fear being thrown in jail
and will leave the market to organized criminals, he said.

Health Canada obtains its marijuana and seeds from Prairie Plant
Systems Inc. and licenced patients can buy from the government or grow
their own. But Barth called the federal supply "crap."

Blair Longley, leader of the Marijuana Party of Canada, said pot
should be legal for all Canadians who want it whether they are sick or
in perfect health. 
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