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Source: Reuters
Pubdate: September 16, 2003
Author: Franco Pingue

Canadian Pot Patients Pan Government Marijuana

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's government-grown marijuana is unfit for human consumption and makes some patients sick, people who have tried it said on Tuesday.

The federal government has permitted more than 600 Canadians to legally buy medical marijuana, the first country in the world to do so. They are patients whose doctors prescribed pot after conventional treatments failed.

"It's not marijuana, it's ground-up stems, twigs and beads and it's not fit for human consumption," said Jim Wakeford, who uses marijuana to battle AIDS symptoms. "The marijuana was offensive and obnoxious smelling, it was not helpful and it gave me bad headaches the two times I tried it."

Marco Renda, who smokes marijuana to help symptoms of liver disease hepatitis C, said he temporarily used government dope after someone stole his marijuana plants.

"I don't like it, and even my doctor advised me not to use it because it does nothing to help my symptoms," said Renda.

A recent study by patients-rights group Canadians for Safe Access claims government dope contains 3 percent of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main active ingredient, not the 10 percent the government says.

Phillipe Lucas, a spokesman with Canadians for Safe Access, who smokes marijuana to ease hepatitis C symptoms, said he canceled his government-ordered dope.

Despite the complaints, Health Canada said its dope is effective and cannot be returned for refunds.

"We question the validity of the test results that they have put forward because they haven't been open and transparent about where the tests were done," said Krista Apse, spokeswoman at Health Canada.

Canadians for Safe Access, which said test marijuana was obtained through a reliable source with access to government pot, urged the government to conduct more tests.

But the government said the medical marijuana is produced using "quality standardized marijuana" and its THC content level is about 10 percent.

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