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Compassion Club Founder Wants To Run Pot Program


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The founder of the Montreal Compassion Club wants Quebec to take over the administration of the federal Medical Marijuana Access program in the province.

Marc-Boris St-Maurice said Tuesday the program is "an embarrassing oxymoron."

He complained about major delays processing applications, licence renewals and changes of address.

"Eighteen months ago we requested a supply of application forms for our clients which we still have not received," he said.

"There are also frequent disturbing reports of doctors being pressured by Health Canada bureaucrats to reduce their patients' recommended daily dosage."

St-Maurice wants Quebec Health Minister Philippe Couillard to intervene and hopes to meet with provincial Health Department officials in the coming weeks.

"The field of health is a provincial jurisdiction and we believe that it would be more appropriate if this program was managed by our province instead of Ottawa," St-Maurice said.

Couillard said Tuesday although he's not against the idea it's too soon to say whether the Quebec government should be in charge of medical marijuana in the province.

He added that he first wants to see the scientific evidence that its use is beneficial and therapeutic.

"Before I go in this direction I want to make sure the scientific proof is established," he said.

"I want to make sure that it's necessary and that there are no other options and that it's the only solution."

During a visit to Montreal to announce tougher rules for identity theft, federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said he's not familiar with the particulars of the Compassion Club.

But he reiterated the Tory government's commitment to bring about a tough drug strategy.

"We've indicated that we'll be coming forward with a national anti-drug strategy and it will be co-ordinated between Justice, Public Safety and Health Canada, and we'll be making an announcement in due course," Nicholson said.

St-Maurice made his comments at a news conference where he opened a new storefront location for the Montreal Compassion Club.

The dispensary sells medical marijuana to those who suffer from illnesses like cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and HIV-AIDS.

St-Maurice said the new brightly lit location doesn't have any curtains "because we have nothing to hide. . .numerous courts have concurred that what we do here is not a crime."

"We're being a little more open and visible about what we're doing, but our activities are the same," he added.

The club first opened in 1999 but was shut down a year later when St-Maurice was arrested.

It reopened in 2003 after St-Maurice was acquitted of marijuana trafficking.

"We've been operating a little more discreetly since then," he said.

St-Maurice said the new location, which has a dispensing counter displaying various types of marijuana, is more spacious and is wheelchair-accessible.

He said about 10 per cent of the club's 1,000 members have licences from the federal government authorizing them to buy medical marijuana and others have their doctor's authorization.

The club sells different grades of marijuana for between $7 and $10 a gram, while hashish goes for $15 to $20 per gram, which one club member describes as "market value."

It also offers marijuana cookies that sell for $6 each.

News Moderator: CoZmO - 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: CTV.ca (Ontario, Canada)
Author: The Associated Press
Contact: newsonline@ctv.ca
Copyright: 2007 CTVglobemedia
Website: CTV.ca | Compassion Club founder wants to run pot program
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