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Pubdate: Sat, 03 Aug 2002
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2002 The Calgary Sun
Author: Michael Wood, Calgary Sun
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


More sick and terminally-ill Canadians are blowing off traditional treatments, instead growing their own government-sanctioned medicine through new marijuana laws.

Since July 30, 2001, when Health Canada introduced new access regulations allowing ailing Canadians to smoke dope, 315 new patients have been granted authorization.

That's almost one permit issued per day.

"(The numbers) keep going up every month," said Health Canada spokesman Andrew Swift.

In June, 15 Canadians were granted permits to smoke weed, while 44 new patients signed on in May.

Prior to the new laws, Canadians had to apply for exemption from criminal prosecution under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Some 472 people still remain permitted to toke under those laws, bringing the total number of permitted pot users to 786.

Of those, 208 are plying their own weed-green thumbs with personal production licences.

Swift credited the new regulations for allowing more Canadians faster access to medicinal marijuana than was possible under the old regime.

"It's a system that's working very well," Swift said.

Meanwhile, Prairie Plant Systems, the Saskatchewan-based outfit growing marijuana crops for federal research, is cultivating several strains of weed.

What is cultivated from those will be shipped to scientists hunting for the best suitable strain for public consumption, but Swift said that could still take months.

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