Health Canada Authorizes Patients To Use Medical Marijuana, Announces Plan To Grow Pot For Medical Research

Health Minister Allan Rock announced yesterday that the government has authorized two patients to legally grow and possess marijuana for medical purposes. The agency also declared that they are developing a business plan for the creation of a government-approved farm to supply domestically grown marijuana for human patient trials.

“This is a significant breakthrough in the drive to make marijuana available to seriously ill patients in Canada,” NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said. “This announcement surely puts pressure on U.S. government officials to adopt a more compassionate stance on this issue.”

The House of Commons approved a motion late last month urging Health Canada to “take steps” toward approving the limited use of marijuana. Yesterday the agency issued guidelines for a series of upcoming medical marijuana clinical trials as well as plans to grow and import the drug for medical purposes.

“Moving forward on a research plan that includes establishing a quality Canadian supply of medicinal marijuana and a process to access it, is significant,” Rock said. “The plan reflects compassion and will also help build the evidence base needed regarding the use of marijuana for medical purposes.”

Rock said that he intends to import medical marijuana from the United States’ National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to use in the initial trials. Patients will smoke marijuana short-term in those studies, he said.

Patients in later trials will use marijuana extracts and non-smoked forms of the drug, the agency guidelines state.

Health Canada also announced that it had granted two patients permission to use marijuana for their own personal medical use. One of the patients, Jean Charles Pariseau, who uses marijuana to combat the effects of nausea and the AIDS wasting syndrome, said that he was “more than happy” with Health Canada’s historic decision. “If you gave me a choice between a million dollars and [this] announcement, I would choose the announcement,” he said.

Rock said that 30 additional patients are awaiting permission from Health Canada to use marijuana. The agency said that they intend to review those requests within “15 working days.”

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751. To download a copy of Health Canada’s medical marijuana research plans, please visit: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hpb-dgps/therapeut/htmleng/cds.html.