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Medicinal marijuana legalized in Canada

In 1923 it became illegal for Canadians to possess marijuana. But the laws have always been flouted, by recreational users who just want to get high, and by medicinal users seeking relief from pain and illness. From cannabis cafés to courtrooms, doctors and patients, rabble-rousers and senior statesmen have engaged in a passionate debate over marijuana possession. But the laws have endured.

"Here's my pot licence, officer." Those words could get users of medicinal marijuana off the hook the next time the police come calling. Canadians can now apply for a license to grow and smoke marijuana. But there's a sea of bureaucracy standing between them and the budding pot plants being grown for the government in an abandoned mine in Flin Flon, Man. As this clip reveals, people on both sides of the debate oppose the new system.
• In December 2000, under health minister Allan Rock, the federal government contracted Saskatoon-based Prairie Plant Systems to produce 400 kilograms of marijuana every year for four years. The pot is grown under tight security in an old mine owned by Hudson's Bay Mining and Smelting in Flin Flon, about 650 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

• Health Canada planned to use the crop for research into the therapeutic value of medicinal marijuana, and ultimately set up a system for distributing it to medical users. But the distribution system was put on hold when Anne McLellan took over as health minister. In August 2002 McLellan said she would wait for the Supreme Court of Canada to settle legal questions surrounding medicinal marijuana; an issue that makes her feel "a certain degree of discomfort."
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: July 30, 2001
Guests: Peter Barrett, Marilyn Chamney, Jody Gomber

Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Norman Hermant
Duration: 2:48

Last updated: July 29, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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