Ottawa Unveils Rules for Medical Use of Pot

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Apr 8, 2001.

  1. Canadian Press
    Source: Toronto Star

    Canada will become the only country in the world with a government-regulated system for using marijuana as medicine, under provisions unveiled today.
    The marijuana access program is being justified partly on compassionate grounds and partly as a scientific research effort, and is attracting little criticism even from social conservatives.

    ''When people are seriously ill and in severe pain we would support anything that would relieve their pain,'' said Diane Ablonczy of the Canadian Alliance.

    ''Many people have found that smoking marijuana does do that.''

    Health Minister Allan Rock denied that the new rules are the ''thin edge of the wedge'' for legalizing marijuana.

    ''I don't buy that,'' Rock said outside the Commons. ''We've had medical access to heroin and morphine for a long time and it hasn't been the thin edge of the wedge for legalizing those drugs.

    ''I think people can distinguish in their own minds between, on the one hand, allowing medical access to marijuana and on the other hand allowing it to be used recreationally.''

    The proposed regulations would create three categories of patients, with different rules for each. Easiest access would be for those expected to die within a year.

    Next would come people suffering severe pain, nausea, anorexia, seizures, spasms or weakness from specified diseases including cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

    These patients would require a statement from a medical specialist saying conventional treatments have been tried and found inappropriate.

    Patients with medical conditions not specified in the regulations would fall into a third category, and would have to obtain statements from two specialists.

    The proposed rules would not allow so-called ''compassion clubs'' that have sprung up in major cities to supply medical marijuana.

    Every patient wishing to use medical pot would have to either grow it or designate another person to grow it for him or her. A designated grower would not be allowed to supply more than three patients.

    Barry Burkholder, a Sudbury resident who suffers from hepatitis C, said the proposed rules sound very bureaucratic.

    ''It's probably another tactic for them to put some red tape in,'' he said.

    Burkholder said many patients will have difficulty finding a doctor willing to support their application. ''We've got to get some information to the doctors too.''

    The Health Department has for some time allowed special exemptions from the criminal ban on marijuana possession, but patients say exemptions are hard to get.

    Last summer an Ontario judge ordered the government to clarify its rules within one year. The proposed new regulations are a result of that order.

    They will be open for public comment for one month, and must take effect by July under the court deadline.

    Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
    Published: April 6, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 The Toronto Star

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