Newsbrief: Canadian Government to Distribute Medical Marijuana 7/11/03

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Scrambling to keep its tattered marijuana laws from collapsing entirely, the Canadian government announced Wednesday that it would begin distributing marijuana to registered patients. The move came on the last day of a six-month grace period granted by an Ontario judge who ruled Canada's marijuana laws unconstitutional because they did not provide a mechanism for medical marijuana users to legally obtain their medicine. Health Canada announced Wednesday that it will sell ounces of contract-grown marijuana to registered patients for $112 once a month, and packets of 30 seeds to registered growers for $15 once a year. According to ministry spokeswoman Cindy Cripps-Prawak, the weed grown in an abandoned mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba, has a THC content of 10%.

Health Canada will make its marijuana available to physicians who will then distribute it to the 582 patients registered with the ministry so far. That could happen as early as next week, Cripps-Prawak said. New patients can begin applying for the drug immediately, she added. "Let's make the assumption that the application is complete; the marijuana can be delivered within a week." The drug will not be prescribed through a pharmacy because it has not been federally approved.

Ottawa acted to comply with the Ontario court decision in which the court invalidated a law that makes "seriously ill, vulnerable people deal with the criminal underworld to get medicine." The Canadian government plans to appeal that decision and has suggested it could cancel the medical marijuana program if it should win on appeal.

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Issue #295, 7/11/03 Editorial: More Than One Kind of Pain | Alaska Court Rules Marijuana Possession Okay -- Judicial Day of Reckoning Coming | Doctors' Group Advises Physicians to Avoid Treating Pain with Opiates, Cites Persecution of Pain Doctors -- Tucson Case Illustrates Point | DRCNet Interview: Brazilian Antiprohibitionists Luiz Paulo Guanabara of Psicotropicus and Cecilia Szterenfeld of the Integrated Programs on Marginality | Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Argentina | In Memoriam: Don Topping, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii | Newsbrief: Feds Appeal Ed Rosenthal Sentence | Newsbrief: Ruling Expected "Soon" in Santa Cruz Medical Marijuana Suit | Ashcroft Seeks Supreme Court Permission to Overturn Free Speech Ruling on Physician-Patient Discussion of Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: Oregon Appeals Court Overturns Asset Forfeiture Reform | Newsbrief: Canadian Government to Distribute Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: New DEA Administrator Karen Tandy Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee Following Medical Marijuana Controversy | Newsbrief: Former Scottish High Court Judge Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: British Doctors Don't Say Legalize It | The Reformer's Calendar

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