Medicinal pot plants now growing

Valerie Lawton
Toronto Star
OTTAWA BUREAU
July 4, 2001

OTTAWA - Government-sanctioned marijuana plants are already sprouting as the health department announces the final version of a national program on the medicinal use of pot today, an official says.

People suffering from serious medical conditions such as arthritis, cancer and AIDS will have the legal right to smoke marijuana under regulations expected to be in place at the end of the month.

An official speaking on condition of anonymity said yesterday some changes have been made to proposed regulations in response to the concerns of patients and doctors.

One difference is that patients, rather than their physicians, will apply for access to marijuana.

``It reduces the burden on physicians and it empowers the patient,'' the official said.

As well, the government will extend existing exemptions from criminal marijuana laws by six months. Some 200 people have been granted such exemptions.

The plants are already growing in Flin Flon, Man., by a company contracted by the government, Prairie Plant Systems, the health official said, adding the seeds were supplied by Canadian police forces.

Federal bureaucrats are still working on a deal to import other seeds from the United States. The Flin Flon facility is expected to grow a wide variety of seeds.

The government will also announce today new research funding for the Community Research Initiative of Toronto to study the use of marijuana by people living with HIV.

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