Recent Articles

Recent Comments

« | Main | »


By Hempology | July 12, 2005

VANCOUVER — Eric Nash and Wendy Little have 45 marijuana plants that they grow at a secret location for two people who are registered with the federal government to receive medicinal marijuana.

They have another 45 plants that they hope will become the source for the world’s first certified, organic cannabis-based medicine for patients with pain from multiple sclerosis and AIDS.

After two years of consultations with Ottawa, the Vancouver Island couple have received federal government approval to expand their fledgling business and begin research on developing the organic, cannabis-based medicine.

The research project is the most recent development in the gradual movement of marijuana from counterculture to mainstream of Canadian society.

Jirina Vlk, a media relations officer for Health Canada, declined to comment on the Vancouver Island project, saying Canada’s privacy law prohibits the government from providing any information about research or about suppliers for the medicinal marijuana program.

Mr. Nash, 47, worked for the City of Victoria’s parks department and the B.C. Ministry of Forests before becoming a provider of medicinal marijuana. Ms. Little, 44, was a high-school teacher.

The federal government recognized their company, Island Harvest, as a producer of medicinal marijuana in 2002, Mr. Nash said.

Since then, Health Canada received requests from 54 patients for their marijuana. However, Health Canada has allowed the firm to supply only two people, he said.

An Ontario Court of Appeal decision in 2003 allowed ill people to obtain marijuana from designated growers. The ruling was initially believed to open the door to large-scale private cultivation.

However, the federal government has restricted private production, despite the court ruling, Mr. Nash said. Patients are encouraged to obtain their marijuana from Prairie Plant Systems, a government-backed biotechnology company growing marijuana in an unused mine outside Flin Flon, Man., he said.

The development of an organic, cannabis-based medicine would exempt their company from restrictions placed on medicinal marijuana, he said. The product would be available at pharmacies in unlimited supply through prescription.Mr. Nash said a company called PhytoCan Pharmaceuticals will do research over the next 12 to 18 months on whether the medicine should be a spray, liquid or solid and how to standardize the ingredients.

Federal approval for research by PhytoCan was given three months after Health Canada approved Sativex, a cannabis-based drug for relief of neuropathic pain in adults with multiple sclerosis.

Sativex, manufactured in the United Kingdom by GW Pharmaceuticals, is administrated by a spray pump under the tongue or inside the cheek.

Mr. Nash’s project has received the endorsement of Vancouver’s chief public health officer, John Blatherwick, who has often been among the first to advocate controversial positions on health care that more traditional authorities eventually adopted.

Dr. Blatherwick, who was invested in the Order of Canada for his public-health advocacy, depicted the research as part of the move toward legalization of marijuana.

“We supported the group because they say we need to do proper research,” Dr. Blatherwick said yesterday in an interview.

“That is one of the cop-outs people [who oppose legalization of marijuana] always use. So fund proper research and get some of the answers.”

“It is pretty clear you have to go a little beyond decriminalization,” he added. “We have it decriminalized now, essentially, and it is still not working. . . . There is still huge profits being made in having illegal grow-ops and selling marijuana.”

Dr. Blatherwick was an early supporter of smoking bans, safe-injection sites for hard-drug users, needle exchanges and making condoms available in schools.

MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin

Topics: Articles | Comments Off

Comments are closed.