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Medical Marijuana Rule Changes Good for Patients: PPS

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It's business as usual at Saskatoon-based Prairie Plant Systems Inc. (PPS) despite a federal announcement the government will be changing the rules for medical marijuana growers.

Brent Zettl, president and CEO of PPS, said its contract to produce medical marijuana for Health Canada remains in place through the agreement's March 2013 end date. PPS is the only federally licensed producer of the substance in the country.

"We see this as (having) strong potential for the patients to win by giving more consistent long-term accessibility to marijuana-based products that are as safe as they can be," Zettl said Saturday.

"I don't think that from our standpoint that it's a bad thing. I think this is an appropriate step to take at this juncture in the evolution of making medical marijuana available to patients on an ongoing basis."

He added there's no reason for patients to be concerned about the availability - or lack thereof - of the drug.

On Friday, federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced the government wants to reduce the risk of abuse and exploitation of the drug by making improvements to the Medical Marihuana Access Program.

Ottawa has now launched public consultations on the proposed changes, which would eliminate individual and private growers.

Health Canada's action on the access program comes from recent complaints from communities across the country who say the system as is poses dangers when growers don't follow local electrical, health and safety bylaws.

Zettl said he hopes any changes to the access program will allow PPS to interact with patients - something it currently cannot do.

PPS supplies roughly 20 per cent of the medical marijuana patients have access to through Health Canada. Some 5,000 Canadians are authorized to use marijuana for medical reasons, Zettl said.

"We're always of an opinion that we would like to be a bit more sensitive to the patient needs, including making more strains available to them," he said. "So from a go-forward basis, it could benefit the patients long-term."

The CEO explained leaving individual growers out of licensed medical marijuana production will improve safety - both for the drug and the communities where it's grown. Zettl said it's been 11 years since the last issue of product diversion at PPS.

Most importantly, he said, the patient should be presented with medical marijuana that has been thoroughly tested.

"Everything we do is tested for metals and microbials and cannabinoids, so the patients know what they're getting. It's not like a mystery bag of material," he said.

"Really, if you want to make it medicine and call it medicine it should be grown and produced and treated and tested and verified and validated like medicine, and that's the truth."

He said he's happy Health Canada's announcement has reignited a dialogue on the subject.

Canadians who are interested in commenting on the proposed changes to the Medical Marihuana Access Program can do so through July 31 on the Health Canada website.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: thestarphoenix.com
Author: Cassandra Kyle
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Copyright: Postmedia Network Inc.
Website: Medical marijuana rule changes good for patients: PPS
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