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Newshawk: Dave Haans
Pubdate: Thu, 03 Aug 2000
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2000 The Toronto Star
Contact: lettertoed@thestar.com
Address: One Yonge St., Toronto ON, M5E 1E6
Fax: (416) 869-4322


Montreal (CP) -- People with criminal records shouldn't be excluded from supplying medicinal
marijuana, a group that advocates the therapeutic use of pot recommended yesterday.

Health Canada should consider the knowledge of long-time growers who may have faced
charges for growing marijuana, said Marc-Boris St-Maurice of the Canadian Cannabis

"Valuable experience in breeding marijuana is lost and nothing is gained by this criteria,"
St-Maurice told a news conference.

Excluding them from supplying marijuana in medical trials to be conducted by Ottawa isn't in
the best interests of people who need it, he said.

Last year, Health Minister Allan Rock announced Ottawa would gather evidence on the safety
and effectiveness of marijuana in treating medical conditions. Rock said the federal
government was looking for suppliers of high-grade pot for the trials.

The Canadian Cannabis Coalition made public a list of recommendations it will give to Health
Canada for the medical trials.

Advocates for the medicinal use of marijuana say pot can ease nausea and stimulate appetite
in people who suffer from symptoms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and other illnesses.

St-Maurice said Rock also has excluded small-scale growers from providing medicinal pot.

St-Maurice volunteers at a Montreal centre called the Compassion Club, which provides
therapeutic pot to people with chronic illnesses. The centres also operate in Toronto and
Vancouver. Patients must have a doctor's prescription to get marijuana.

Health Canada has the power to grant exemptions to people who want to use pot for
medicinal reasons, but it has only granted about 50 to date.

Health Canada wouldn't comment yesterday on the coalition's recommendations.
Spokesperson Roslyn Tremblay said Health Canada needs time to review the proposals.

The coalition's comments came just two days after the Ontario Court of Appeal declared
unconstitutional the law that prohibits possession of marijuana.

The court ruled the law fails to recognize that pot can be used for medicinal purposes by
people with chronic illnesses. It said if Ottawa doesn't clarify the law within a year, marijuana
possession will be legal for anyone in Ontario.

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