(Reprinted from the NORML Weekly News, a publication of the NORML Foundation, http://www.norml.org)

February 19, 1998, Toronto, Ontario: As part of an ongoing campaign to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Canada, activists in Ontario announced the launch of at least eight medical marijuana dispensaries in the region. Proponents announced that the clubs -- commonly known as Cannabis Buyers' Clubs (CBCs) -- will be "wheelchair accessible," and in "commercial areas, not private residences." Medical marijuana distributed at the clubs will be sold at cost. "We're not going to be hiding," Peter Young -- one of the organizers for the clubs -- told the Ottawa Citizen. He added that any police officer posing as a patient could "easily" track down a sales venue, but said that "if they're going to bust us, fine. But the next day we'll be open again."

Presently, buyers' clubs exist in Toronto and Vancouver, the Toronto Star reported. Additional clubs are expected to open shortly in Toronto, London, Peterborough, Kitchener, and Guelph. Club organizers in Mississauga, Oakville, and Etobicoke are currently accepting applications, the paper said. Efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Canada have increased in recent months. On February 5, a 53 year old Toronto AIDS patient filed a civil suit against the Canadian government asking the court to find an exemption for the medical use of marijuana. The federal challenge came two months after a Canadian trial court judge ruled that bona fide medical marijuana users are exempt from criminal marijuana possession penalties. In addition, recent statements from a spokesman at the Canadian Department of Health indicate that the agency may begin approving use of the drug in "emergency" situations. Buyers' clubs -- though illegal under U.S. federal law -- first began to appear in California in the early 1990s. Medical marijuana advocates estimate that 40 such clubs presently operate in the United States. For further information, contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

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Issue #30, 2/20/98 Medical Marijuana Support Fund Established | Gingrich Calls Clinton's New Drug Strategy "The Definition of Failure," Pledges GOP Legislative Package | World Health Organization Suppresses Report Finding Marijuana Safer than Alcohol and Tobacco | Needle Exchange Volunteer Arrested in New Jersey: Letters are needed! | Protesting Penn State Professor Julian Heicklen, Four Others to be Charged -- High School Student Suspended for Three Days Without Hearing | Ex-Michigan Gov: Drug Lifer Law Inhumane | Medical Marijuana Activists to Open Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Across Eastern Canada | Interview with Canadian Medical Marijuana Activist Peter Young | Classmates of UK Home Secretary Straw's Son Hand Him Petition for Legalization of Cannabis | Job Opportunity: Drug Policy Foundation seeks Public Policy Director | Editorial: Bill, Newt, and the coming battle over the war
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