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More MS news articles for July 2003

Canada Becomes First Country to Legalize Medical Marijuana Use

July 10, 2003
By Jimmy Moore
Talon News

Canada began legally selling marijuana to several hundred medical patients on Wednesday becoming the first country in the world to allow the sale of marijuana for medical purposes.

Officials in Ottawa were quick to say that they may discontinue this program at any time. Since it was announced in July 2001 that the Canadian government would allow some medical patients to use marijuana as part of their treatment, the logistics of making this a reality have not worked out.

A January 2003 court ruling in Ontario gave Ottawa until Wednesday to resolve this. The new plan announced by government officials is meant as a temporary measure as more research into the alleged benefits of marijuana is conducted. Ottawa officials will appeal the court ruling.

"My first obligation is to ensure the safety and efficacy of this product. Marijuana is not a proven therapeutic product," remarked Canada's Health Minister Anne McLellan. "I remain committed to their medical marijuana research program, which promotes research on the medical value of marijuana while taking a compassionate approach to Canadians who suffer from serious medical conditions."

Nearly 600 patients were allowed to purchase 30 grams of dried marijuana for $112 or a packet of 30 seeds for $20 to grow their own plants without fear of criminal prosecution. These prices are about half of the street value of the marijuana.

"Although this interim policy can be amended or suspended at any time, it is anticipated that it will remain in effect until ... the roles and responsibilities with respect to a supply of marijuana for medical purposes have been clarified by the courts," the health ministry revealed in a statement.

McLellan was not concerned about the appeal and said that tests would be conducted to determine the actual benefits of marijuana to sick people.

The legalized marijuana, which is grown on government property in the middle of Canada, will be distributed to patients by their doctors. The government is recommending that patients put the marijuana in their food, drinks and other methods rather than smoking it.

Several of the patients who received the marijuana for medical use were disappointed with the government's decision to appeal the ruling.

"This country has to act now ... nobody wants us to play this political football game any more. People are suffering and dying out there," argued Alison Myrden, who is suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Canada's decision to legalize the medical use of marijuana is in stark contrast to what the United States has ruled. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a total ban on medical marijuana in 2001. U.S. officials have been extremely critical of Canada's plan to legalize small amounts of marijuana because it could lead to an increase in the amount of drug traffic at the U.S./Canada border, as reported last month by Talon News.

Copyright © 2003, Talon News