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No More Wacky Tobacky Tests

By Hempology | October 2, 2006

An Alberta researcher says the federal Conservatives are putting Canada back in the “dark ages” by eliminating the $4-million medical marijuana research program.

“There are still many unknowns about the medical benefits of marijuana use. Ending research grants will put us back in the dark ages,” said Dr. Helen Hays, with the University of Alberta’s department of family medicine.

She’s worked with chronic pain sufferers since 1981.

“Right now most of what we go on is anecdotal evidence. What we need is some elegant research to offer definitive answers to whether pot reduces chronic pain.”

The Conservatives put their mark on government spending yesterday with the announcement of $1 billion in cuts to programs they did not consider priorities, from cutting $4.6 million funding to Canadian museums to research on the use of medical marijuana.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty also announced that the government recorded a $13.2-billion surplus in the last fiscal year and that all the cash will go toward paying down the national debt.

A spokesman for Prairie Plant Systems, the Saskatoon-based company contracted by Health Canada to grow marijuana and other plants used for medical research, says the funding cuts won’t affect those currently using pot legally.

“This marks an end to research funding grants. We just grow the marijuana, so it won’t affect us or the supply to authorized users.”

The $1-billion figure, over two years, included savings accrued from tighter spending, such as $47 million less for having a smaller cabinet. And it covered areas where money was allocated but never spent, such as a proposed new citizenship act that cost $20 million.

But Flaherty and Treasury Board President John Baird made it clear that the Conservatives were largely making choices about what their government felt were priorities, with many of those choices made in areas that were nurtured by the Liberals.

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