Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Author: Simon Doyle, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, February 19, 2004
Copyright: 2004 Calgary Herald
Contact: [email protected]
Medicinal marijuana may soon be available in pharmacies, according to proposals being examined by a variety of special interest groups in consultation with Health Canada.
Officials from Health Canada on Wednesday met with pharmacists, medical experts, police and medicinal pot users behind closed doors to discuss access to medicinal marijuana.
"If you wanted the biggest patient concern, it's to be able to get a safe, affordable supply of medicinal marijuana. That's what we need," said Greg Robinson, who uses marijuana because it alleviates his HIV/AIDS symptoms -- nausea and lack of appetite.
Ray Joubert, of the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacies, said that there was a lot of support for bringing marijuana into local pharmacies. "I think there's growing interest. There seems to be growing support as well."
Richard Viau, an official with Health Canada's controlled-substances program, said Wednesday the department has wrapped up a series of consultations on the issue. The findings from those meetings will be examined and a series of recommendations will be published later this year.
He expects the proposals to land in cabinet for final approval by the end of this summer.
After that, a pilot project to get marijuana distributed through pharmacies could begin.
However, the process of getting all Canadian pharmacies on board could take some wrangling because the provinces are responsible for health care.
"If the pilot proved to be successful, then the provinces and territories would have to look at it and modify their legislation to allow for this to happen," he said.
Viau said that as of early February, there were 710 medicinal marijuana users in Canada. Many of these are cancer and HIV/AIDS patients, who use the drug to alleviate nausea, pain and lack of appetite.
Getting marijuana into pharmacies was just one proposal discussed Wednesday.
Other issues included eliminating the red tape between patients and legal access to pot; and disclosing medicinal marijuana users to police.
"Grow operations are becoming a serious concern in many communities and increasingly citizens are bringing them forward to police," said Chris McNeil, who chairs the Canadian chief of police drug abuse committee.
"Why not put something in place where, if we're about to search a place, we could verify a legal activity rather than risk entering a house by force . . ." he said.
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