Newshawk: Kelly T.Conlon
Pubdate: Tue, 3 Apr 2001
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2001, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Brian Laghi
Note: With a report from Susan Bourette
ATTENTION POT GROWERS - SIGN HERE FOR LEGAL BUYERS
Ottawa -- The federal government may soon start licensing angels of mercy
to supply the desperately ill with marijuana. Ottawa will unveil proposed
new regulations this week making it legal for third parties to grow and
supply marijuana for those who need it to relieve the agony of terminal
illness and other serious conditions.
The new rules will allow people who require the drug to alleviate suffering
to designate a grower on their behalf, sources told The Globe and Mail
Monday. The rules will also set out three categories of people who will be
allowed to seek exemptions from prosecution for using marijuana. Government
officials would only identify one category -- the terminally ill.
Officials familiar with the proposal say Ottawa would grant licences to
people for possessing and for growing or supplying marijuana. The move
comes four months before a court-imposed deadline forcing the federal
government to act on the issue.
"The licences to produce would be either for the individual who has asked
for the exemption, or they can designate someone," said the source, who
asked not to be identified.
An advocate for people who require the drug to relieve symptoms was
overjoyed at the news.
"I think it's terrific. It's a big move forward," said Philippe Lucas,
director of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, a Victoria-based
organization which advocates the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
"It's a realization that a lot of sick people will not have the health or
the knowledge to grow it themselves -- that they need a third party to do it."
The regulations will be unveiled by the end of the week and the general
public will be given 30 days to respond. New regulations must be in place
by the end of July, and come after the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that
the country's laws forbidding the possession of marijuana are
unconstitutional and gave the federal government one year to amend them.
The decision resulted from the case of Terrance Parker, a 44-year-old
epileptic who won a 23-year court battle for the right to smoke and grow
marijuana to control his seizures.
Mr. Parker's hydroponic garden was raided by police in 1997. The new
regulations would allow people like Mr. Parker to grow their own or
designate someone else to do it for them.
"We're trying to correct the contradiction that on the one hand allows
someone to take it for medical reasons and on the other makes it illegal to
actually produce it, buy it or grow it," the source said.
The other key feature of the new rules clarifies just who can and can't
apply for exemptions.
Currently, people who believe their suffering can be eased by medicinal
marijuana can apply for an exemption from prosecution for growing or using it