Canada to Allow Use of Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes
Canadian health officials announced yesterday that beginning July 30, chronically ill patients in the country will be issued photo identity cards allowing them to legally possess marijuana to use for medicinal purposes, the Washington Times reports. However, there will not be a "legal way" for such patients to buy the drug until "sometime next year," when the government begins growing the herb at a facility in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Dr. Jody gomber, director-general of controlled substances for Health Canada, said (Washington Times, 7/5).
Changing the Criminal Code
A court ruling last year ordered the government to alter the criminal code to allow people with qualifying medical conditions to obtain marijuana for medicinal purposes. The new regulations create categories of people who can possess the drug without legal penalty; those suffering from terminal illnesses with a prognosis of death "within one year" and those with "serious" medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS and cancer qualify for the program. Canadian Health Minister Allan Rock called the announcement of the new guidelines a "landmark," adding that they will "improve the quality of life of sick Canadians." However, the Canadian Medical Association, which represents 50,000 physicians, said that "too little is known" about the drug's possible side effects. "These regulations are placing Canadian physicians and their patients in the precarious position of attempting to access a product that has not gone through the normal protocols of rigorous pre-market testing," Dr. Hugh Scully, past president of the CMA, said (AP/Dallas Morning News, 7/5).