By Tim Harper, Ottawa Bureau Chief
Source: Toronto Star
May 16, 2002
A high-level dust-up about the quality of government-grown pot is creating a buzz in the capital. In fact, the marijuana mess threatens to spill over into Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's cabinet.
Senior government sources said yesterday they believed Health Minister Anne McLellan was deliberately misrepresenting the quality of the weed being grown in northern Manitoba because she has developed cold feet and does not want to follow through on a government plan to provide marijuana to Canadians who need it for medicinal purposes.
They also have the backing of Prairie Plant Systems Inc. president Brent Zettl, who wrote to McLellan, defending the quality of the marijuana he is growing for the government.
A week ago, McLellan told a parliamentary committee the federal marijuana was impure and the first crop contained some 185 varieties of pot.
She said the uneven potency and purity was a "problem'' and would delay delivery several months. She ascribed the problem to the government grower having to use seeds police confiscated from illegal growers.
She said Canadians waiting for medicinal pots would have to be patient.
"That's ridiculous,'' one source said last night. "It's legitimate marijuana and they have medicinal needs.''
McLellan appeared to place the blame at the feet of her predecessor in health, Allan Rock, when she told reporters the problem developed last summer after it was learned Ottawa could not get the marijuana seeds it wanted from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Making clinical marijuana available to those with less than a year to live, or to those who have AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries or epilepsy, with doctors' approval, was a major Rock health move.
More than 200 ill Canadians have sought and gained permission to use the government marijuana.
McLellan "may be looking for a way out. Her reaction has been puzzling,'' one source said. McLellan was in Europe, unavailable for comment. Zettl did not return phone calls.
Note: McLellan said to be misrepresenting Rock's weed crop.
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Author: Tim Harper, Ottawa Bureau Chief
Published: May 16, 2002
Copyright: 2002 The Toronto Star
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