Mixed buzz greets new pot rules

People with specific illnesses can now apply for a license to smoke marijuana for pain relief

Some Canadians say there are still too many restrictions on their use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, even after new regulations came into effect on Monday.

Severely ill patients with their doctor's approval can now apply to Health Canada for a licence to grow and smoke marijuana.

The rules have been greatly anticipated by Canadians suffering from illnesses ranging from AIDS to epilepsy.

Five of them went to court on Monday to complain the rules are too restrictive.

'The nausea has gone away, my grand mal seizures, thank God, came to a complete stop'

AIDS sufferer Donald Appleby says he's not being allowed to grow enough plants. He can have seven. He wants a few hundred.

"I have to grow as much as I can while I'm still healthy enough to do so," he said.

But Marylynne Chamney says the new regulations couldn't come soon enough.

She's been using pot illegally to control her severe epilepsy for six years. She says it worked where no other drug could.

"The nausea has gone away, my grand mal seizures, thank God, came to a complete stop," she said. "Not slowly went away complete stop as soon as starting it."

Chamney isn't one of the 300 Canadians who have been allowed to smoke pot for medical reasons, having been denied the exemption from the law.

She can now apply to smoke it legally, even grow it herself.

Starting in January, the federal government will even be able to supply marijuana, grown at a licensed farm in Flin Flon, Manitoba.

The new rules are intended to end the legal confusion over the medical use of marijuana created by the legal exemptions for smoking it. Those people had no legal way to get it, and the courts ordered the government to come up with a set of regulations.

The Canadian Medical Association says the government is moving too fast.

"Usually what happens is products go through vigorous testing, and we know where it works and where it doesn't work, what the risks and side effects are," said Dr. Peter Barrett, president of the CMA. "In this case we don't know any of that. Other doctors who support the use of medical marijuana say the new rules could actually limit access.

Dr. John Goodhew, who helped 30 patients win legal exemptions for marijuana under the old system, says his patients think the system is too complicated.

"The amount of red tape that I'm going to have to go through, and other doctors are going to have to go through to get one patient on, for all intents and purposes, makes medical marijuana inaccessible for most people," he said.