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Flin Flon Pot To Escape Fiery Fate

By Hempology | November 19, 2002

Crop won’t be burned, but used for testing and germinating, McLellan’s office says.

From the Globe And Mail, November 18th, 2002

By Peter Cheney

Flin Flon’s underground marijuana farm has generated more than its share of headlines, but when it was reported this weekend that the operation’s entire harvest was to be burned by Health Canada, Flin Flon Mayor Dennis Ballard had just one request: that he be allowed to stand close.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a political story, not a dope story,” said Mr. Ballard, who has found himself alternately amused and appalled by the machinations that have surrounded the curious industry that came to his town two years ago: the first crop of marijuana to be grown by a private company under licence for the federal government.

On Saturday, a Quebec newspaper reported that the entire crop was to be burned by Health Canada because its quality was too uneven. Last night, Anne McLellan’s assistant, Farah Mohamed, said the report was completely wrong, and that the Flin Flon plants were to be used for lab testing and to germinate a further crop.

The unsubstantiated burning report was the latest in a series of political developments surrounding the marijuana, which was grown in an abandoned mine by a company called Prairie Plants Systems. The program, which was commissioned by former health minister Allan Rock, has come under criticism by Ms. McLellan, his successor, who has made it clear that she has reservations.

Many of the problems stem from the fact that Prairie Plants was forced to use seeds seized in RCMP drug raids. Because of this, the crop it produced for the government contained 185 different varieties of marijuana. Ms. McLellan has said this mixed quality has made it unsuitable for distribution to Canadians who have permits to use marijuana for medical reasons.

Mr. Ballard said the only thing wrong with the Flin Flon dope is the politics that control it.

“Anne McLellan is a Paul Martin follower,” he said. “She doesn’t want anything that Allan Rock did to look good.”

The marijuana mine has had little impact on the economy of Flin Flon, he added.

“It’s 10 jobs at the bottom of a secret mine. That doesn’t have much effect.”

One unexpected beneficiary of the mine and its publicity has been Chris Pilz, proprietor of a skateboard shop called The Zig Zag Zone. Mr. Pilz has made a small fortune over the past two years by printing shirts that play on the theme of Flin Flon’s underground stash.

One of the earlier models reads “Ganja Mine — Flin Flon, Marijuana Growing Capital of Canada.”

“You can’t take it too seriously,” Mr. Pilz says.

“The dope has given Flin Flon its 15 minutes of fame, and it’s still going.”

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