More MS news articles for December 1999

Ottawa to distribute nearly 1M medicinal marijuana cigarettes

Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Jane Taber
Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA - Health Canada is planning to distribute nearly one million marijuana cigarettes over a five-year period to ailing Canadians and medical researchers studying the medicinal value of pot, according to a confidential government document.

The 28-page Statement of Work for the Development of a Comprehensive Operation for the Cultivation and Fabrication of Marijuana in Canada sets out the business framework for a Canadian supplier to the federal government for medical marijuana -- in other words, an official dope dealer.

Health Canada will supply the seeds to begin growing and a "Qualified Person In Charge of Narcotic, Controlled and/or Restricted Drug Transactions (QPIC)" would have to be hired. This person would have to be a university graduate in an area such as pharmacology and "be of good character."

"The purpose of this project is to provide for Health Canada a reliable source of affordable, quality, standardized marijuana products to meet the needs of exemption recipients and of researchers in this country and abroad," states the introductory overview of the draft document, written Nov. 30.

Health Canada, according to the document, "will contribute up to $1.5-million per year for investment in clinical, basic and applied research on marijuana and cannabinoids over a five-year period."

Neither Allan Rock, the Health Minister, nor his department will comment on the document because it has not been finalized. However, Lynn LeSage, a department spokeswoman, said Health Canada "is looking at options to provide a safe supply" of marijuana.

Mr. Rock has stated he is committed to finding a Canadian supplier for the drug. So far, he has allowed 16 Canadians suffering from serious illnesses such as AIDS to legally smoke marijuana to help alleviate some of the painful and debilitating symptoms.

Mr. Rock has never said whether the growing of medical marijuana would be done by a government agency or private supplier, but it appears from this document that the government is leaning toward a private source.

The draft plan stipulates that 100,000 marijuana cigarettes with THC (the ingredient that makes the user high) content of between 4% and 6% would be required for distribution in the first year of the project.

In years two to five, the plan requires that amount be upped to 200,000 cigarettes. Indeed, the draft plan calls for 325 kilograms of "bulk processed marijuana" with THC contents varying between zero and 6% to be in storage for other testing.

Corporations or individuals can become "licensed dealers" under this business plan.