Medical Marijuana 'Will Be Anything But Weak,' Vows Government Grower

The first crop of federal medical pot won't hit the streets until spring
but will pack enough punch to keep patients satisfied, says the official
government grower.

It will probably be two or three months before people with medical
exemptions will have access to his crop because Health Canada has yet to
decide how medical marijuana will be packaged and distributed, said Brent
Zettl, president of Prairie Plant Systems.

Zettl's company operates the federal government's grow operation, buried in
a rebuilt and ultra-secure mine a kilometre underground in Flin Flon, Man.

"Bearing in mind that nowhere else in the world has this ever been done
before, international agreements about controlled substances make this a
bit more of an onerous task for Health Canada," said Zettl.

Ministry officials need a reliable and secure distribution system that
ensures the privacy of medical exemptees entitled under law to use the drug
to control their symptoms, said Health Canada spokesman Paige Raymond Kovach.

As well, Canada needs to figure out a way to legally provide a drug that it
and many other countries have agreed to ban, she said.

Critics have said the government's plan to produce its own pot is doomed
because it asked for weak weed, from plants with far less of the active
ingredient THC than what's available in the street drug.

"It will be anything but weak," said Zettl.

The federal contract was for a plant with five or six per cent THC content,
but Zettl said his last crop tested at about 10%.

"My goal is, when they get the stuff and they try it they'll say it really
works, that it's good stuff," he said.

THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, which is one measure of the potency
of the drug.

Edmonton compassion club operator Munir Ahmad said that compared to pot on
the street, which can have between 15% and 20% THC content or more, the
government's crop is still only mediocre.

"Unless they're virtually giving it away, it's not worth it," said Ahmad.

"It's already a waste of money for the government to pay a company to grow
what's essentially a weed."

Ahmad said many medical exemptees who use his compassion club said they
would be more comfortable with a legal source of pot, but only as long as
it was either as strong as what's available on the street or cheaper.

Medical exemptee Greg, who didn't want his real name used, said he would
buy pot off the black market rather than low-potency marijuana from the

"You can't control the pain with pot that weak," he said. "The government
just needs to have a product that is comparable to street-level pot."

Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jan 2002
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2002, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Shane Holladay
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)