Canadians march for medical marijuana
August 24, 2002 Posted: 8:45 AM EDT (1245 GMT)
Wayne Robinson, who suffers from chronic arthritis, smokes marijuana at the protest Friday.
TORONTO, Canada (AP) -- Scores of protesters, including some in wheelchairs due to illness, marched peacefully Friday to urge Canada's government to fully implement a medical marijuana program.
The demonstrators in downtown Toronto charged that there were lengthy delays in the government providing marijuana to eligible patients with certain diseases or conditions.
The new regulations took effect a year ago, but so far none of the marijuana grown by the government has been distributed. Under the program, patients certified as eligible also may grow their own or designate someone to grow it for them.
Last week, Health Minister Anne McLellan told the Canadian Medical Association she was uncomfortable with the apparent contradiction of running a medical marijuana program while leading an anti-smoking campaign.
She said no government marijuana would be distributed until clinical trials have been conducted. No such trials have started.
South of the border, eight U.S. states have taken some kind of step toward permitting the medicinal use of marijuana: California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada and Colorado. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ruled last year that there is no exception in federal law for people to use marijuana, so even those with tolerant state laws could face arrest if they do.