More MS news articles for Dec 2001

Government readies pot crop for shipment

Medical marijuana: Plants harvested at high-security mine in Flin Flon, Man.

December 22, 2001
Mark Kennedy
Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA - The first crop of legally grown pot is out of the ground and ready to be shipped throughout the country -- courtesy of Health Canada -- to Canadians suffering from medical ailments.

The marijuana was grown on behalf of the federal government by a private company, Prairie Plant Systems, at an underground mine in Flin Flon, Man.

The company's president, Brent Zettl, said yesterday nearly 2,000 plants were harvested in the high-security mine.

The plants produced more than 250 kilograms of medical marijuana, which now can be provided to up to 680 sick Canadians who have been granted government approval to smoke it for the alleviation of pain and the debilitating symptoms of various diseases.

Federal officials said the government has begun contacting those patients to ask them if they want a share of the government-commissioned supply. (Under federal regulations, they can also grow their own or have someone else grow the pot for them.)

Officials said no one knows how many patients will ask for the Flin Flon pot, but distribution of the supply is expected to begin early in the new year.

No decisions have yet been made on how the marijuana will be distributed but some suggestions include: sending the marijuana to pharmacies where the patients could get it; sending it to regional government offices; or sending it by courier directly to patients' homes.

The new regulations, which came into force this summer, allow certain patients with chronic or terminal illnesses to apply to Health Canada for permission to use marijuana.

The regulations apply to patients who have less than a year to live, those suffering from AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, severe arthritis or epilepsy, as well as those suffering from other conditions, if marijuana is recommended by two specialists.

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