(reprinted from the NORML Foundation, http://www.norml.org)
June 3, 1999, Ottawa, Ontario: Canada's House of Commons passed a motion last week urging the government to "take steps" toward approving the limited use of medical marijuana.
Members of Parliament approved the measure, M-381, as amended, by a 204-29 vote. The revised motion implores health officials to develop guidelines for the medical use of marijuana, including the establishment of clinical trials and a legal supply.
Health Minister Allan Rock says that his office is already exploring the issue.
MP Bernard Bigras (Bloc Quebecois-Rosemont), who sponsored the bill, said that its passage "ensure[s] that the government keeps its word on this question." Bigras has repeatedly criticized Rock for his failure to follow through on promises to introduce regulations allowing patients legal access to medical marijuana.
Bigras' motion originally proposed the government to undertake "all necessary steps to legalize the use of marijuana for health and medical purposes." Bloc Party members opposed amending it, but eventually voted for the watered down version to put the House on record in support of medical marijuana. Bigras emphasized that he still favors making medical marijuana available to some patients before the completion of new clinical trials.
"I'm sure I'll have seriously ill people coming up to me in coming days, saying these [upcoming] clinical trials won't give them access to marijuana for three years, so what we're saying is we favor clinical tests but we [also] need immediate access to the drug," Bigras said.
Rock said he will announce details of the impending trials this month. His office has already received 26 formal requests from patients seeking legal access to the drug.