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Victoria mayor offers support to medical pot users

By Hempology | March 27, 2006

Victoria’s mayor has thrown his support behind local medicinal pot users and called upon Health Canada to conduct an immediate review of how it provides medical marijuana to Canadians.

BY ROB SHAW Times Colonist staff

A presentation to council by local compassion clubs last month prompted Alan Lowe to draft a letter to federal Health Minister Tony Clement criticizing public access to the Federal Marijuana Medical Access Regulation program.
�Many of these citizens rely on marijuana for the purpose of pain management and have expressed an inability to access the… program,� he wrote in the March 20 letter.
Without proper access, �many Canadians will continue to suffer.�
�Victoria City Council therefore respectfully requests an immediate review of current policies and regulations to determine where improvements can be made to ensure a better quality of life for those Canadians in need of medical assistance.�
With the letter, Lowe wades into the controversy surrounding the government�s much-criticized medical marijuana program.
Critics say the pot, which is grown in a mine in Manitoba, is of poor quality. Because it is only one strain of cannabis, users can build up tolerance to the product. It is also too weak, too expensive and too difficult to access, say critics.
Registered users in the program currently purchase marijuana directly from the government, buy seeds to grow at home, or designate a grower to tend to their plants.
But Health Canada requires growers to have a one-on-one relationship with users, a move that cuts off compassion clubs from growing and selling specialized strains to groups of local users.
It was Vancouver Island�s two main clubs, the Cannabis Buyers� Club, and the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, that presented to council in February and prompted the letter.
Both groups praised the mayor, and council, for their support.
�This not only an endorsement of our work, but certainly points out quite clearly that the federal government has been irresponsible,� said Ted Smith, founder of the Cannabis Buyers� Club, which has 1,800 members.
Lowe appears to be �certainly working on our behalf,� said Smith.
�I�m encouraged by the City of Victoria�s continued support of medical cannabis,� said Philippe Lucas, founder of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, with 560 members.
Lucas, who has just finished a fiveyear study of the program which is scheduled to be published, called the Health Canada program �completely unsatisfactory� and unable to stand up to scrutiny.
But Lowe downplayed his letter in an interview Sunday, calling it �nothing big.� As for a response from the federal government, Lowe said, �I�m not expecting much.�
It is at least the second letter the mayor said he has sent to Health Canada, and it comes a month after the federal government sent senior staff to Victoria for a closed-door meeting to try to better explain the rules and regulations of the medical marijuana program.

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