Canada Issues Plan On Medical Marijuana

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Apr 9, 2001.

  1. DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post Foreign Service
    Source: Washington Post

    The Canadian government today proposed rules that would allow terminally ill patients and people suffering from chronic illnesses such as arthritis and AIDS to buy, cultivate and use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
    Under the plan, which would go into effect July 31, the patients would have to prove to authorities that only marijuana could ease their suffering. The rules would allow third parties to grow marijuana for patients who can't grow the plants themselves and would legalize transport and possession for medicinal purposes.

    "Canada is acting compassionately by allowing people who are suffering from grave and debilitating illnesses to have access to marijuana for medical purposes," said Health Minister Allan Rock. "Today's announcement is the next important step. . . . It will bring greater clarity to the process for Canadians who require the use of this drug to alleviate symptoms."

    Rock said the rules would not make recreational use of marijuana legal.

    Canada has long prided itself in having a tough yet compassionate approach to drug users. In the United States, moves by eight states to legalize medicinal use of marijuana have caused broad public debate and litigation; critics say the drug's medical usefulness is unproven. But in Canada steps toward legalization have prompted far less opposition.

    Chuck Thomas, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a nonprofit group working to change U.S. laws on the drug, said the United States should follow Canada's lead. "We need the federal government to change laws," Thomas said. "Right now, people who use medical marijuana in the United States even when recommended by a doctor are treated like criminals."

    Kristin Hansen, a spokeswoman for the Family Research Council, a nonprofit group opposed to legalizing marijuana for any use, said proposed rules in Canada send the wrong message to children.

    "It sends a bad message to kids that marijuana has positive benefits and that it is a so-called medicine," Hansen said. "We believe the best way to help people who are sick and dying is to utilize the drugs we have that are approved to give relief."

    Since 1999, the Canadian government has allowed patients to apply for special permission to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. To date, 220 people have received clearance.

    The regulations proposed today would formalize that system. They resulted from a ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal calling for clear regulations on medical use. Now comes a consultation period in which law enforcement groups and health agencies could comment, possibly resulting in changes before the July 31 implementation.

    The rules cover three categories of patients. The first is people so ill that they have a prognosis of death within 12 months. The second is patients who have serious diseases such as cancer, AIDS, HIV infection and multiple sclerosis.

    In both of these categories, the law would allow marijuana to be used to help relieve muscle spasms, chronic pain, nausea, anorexia and other symptoms, provided that other drugs did not work.

    The third category covers those who think marijuana can help their symptoms. "It is for those who firmly believe this is the solution for them," said Roslyn Tremblay, a spokeswoman for Health Canada, the national health department. "They have tried medication and other treatments that don't work for them."

    Tremblay said patients would require a recommendation by a physician, who would then fill out forms and submit an application to the government.

    Tremblay said it would probably not be possible for a U.S. patient to cross the border and obtain the drug. "This is within our borders," she said. "These rules apply to residents and citizens of Canada."

    The eight U.S. states that have moved to legalize medicinal use of marijuana are California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada and Colorado.

    Note: Patients Have to Show Drug's Benefits

    Source: Washington Post (DC)
    Author: DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post Foreign Service
    Published: Saturday, April 7, 2001; Page A14
    Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company

    Related Articles & Web Sites:

    Marijuana Policy Project

    Health Canada

    Family Research Council
  2. This is all cool, but I just wish they would have waited till july31st so the law would be throwen out of the books.Oh well, guess you gotta take her one step at a time...

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