More MS news articles for Jan 2002

Marijuana advocate urges police to donate pot seized from him to Ottawa

Monday January 14 9:26 PM EST

VICTORIA (CP) - A book store owner who openly sells marijuana for medicinal purposes says the large stash police seized from his business should be donated to Health Canada's underground marijuana mine in Flin Flon, Man.

There's no sense wasting the three kilograms of high-grade B.C. pot and seeds and about 100 marijuana cookies when they can be used to help people in pain, Ted Smith said Monday.

"This cannabis can be given to Health Canada and they can actually use the seeds in Flin Flon," he said in an interview

"This is some of the highest grade marijuana for medical purposes in the world."

Victoria police raided Ted's Books on Jan. 3 after investigating a complaint that one of Smith's customers was selling his medical marijuana on the street.

Smith, 32, said he cut off the customer's marijuana supply, but that didn't stop the police investigation, which has yet to result in charges.

Ted's Books, which doesn't have a licence to sell marijuana, has been in business since last April, Smith said.

"We realize that we cannot get this marijuana back," he said. "But we also don't want to be charged and feel that this medicine should be given to people who are sick."

Smith heads the Cannabis Buyers Clubs of Canada, a loosely knit organization selling marijuana to people with medical problems. There are about 18 similar clubs across Canada, he said.

New federal regulations came into effect last summer that allow 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 or other conditions, if recommended by two specialists.

A doctor must sign the application, which states the benefits of marijuana use outweighs the risks.

Health Minister Allan Rock, who spearheaded the medical marijuana initiative, has said the Flin Flon mine will produce a safe supply source.

Prairie Plant Systems was given a $5.7-million contract to grow the marijuana.

But nobody has yet received any medical marijuana from Flin Flon, Smith said.

"They have given hundreds of people these exemptions and they've not given out a gram," he said. "They haven't given out a seed.

"Clubs like ours have been almost forced to fill this temporary gap and stick our neck out in public where criminals or the police could come and do things and we're not really protected by anyone, except the truth."

Health Canada officials could not be reached for comment about their medical marijuana program.

Police spokespeople were also unavailable.

About 800 people buy medical marijuana from Ted's Books, Smith said.

Customers, who pay up to $215 for 28 grams of marijuana, must provide documentation that confirms they suffer from some condition that could benefit from marijuana use, he said.

The proof of diagnosis does not have to be signed by a doctor but it could come from an insurance company or disability agency, Smith said.

"It is a risk that we've taken here providing these services," he said.

"Technically, this is illegal. Until we're licensed, everyone in Canada is sort of making up their own rules."

Copyright © 2002 Canadian Press