PHARMACISTS WANT TO SELL POT
B.C. Drugstores Could Distribute Feds' Crop Next Year
Your friendly neighbourhood pharmacist could be selling marijuana next year -- as part of a Health Canada pilot project.
The project, proposed by pharmacists Glenda MacDonald and Robin O'Brien, would see several B.C. drugstores distribute government-grown pot to the almost 150 British Columbians with Health Canada medical marijuana licences.
Health Canada began issuing special permits for seriously and chronically ill people to use marijuana in July 2001. People with such licences are permitted to have one person grow marijuana exclusively for them -- but the government is now growing its own pot under contract with Prairie Plant Systems, a Manitoba-based company.
Health Canada wants to reduce reliance on compassion clubs to distribute medical marijuana and supports pilot projects like that proposed by MacDonald and O'Brien.
Rielle Capler, spokeswoman for the B.C. Compassion Club, says the future of her 3,000-member group is under threat from both the government and the pharmacies.
"[Health Canada] wants to see it go only through pharmacies and only produced by Prairie Plant Systems. They are trying to take it away from compassion clubs and leave one choice for people," Capler says.
Capler says compassion-club members require a confirmation of diagnosis from a physician -- but to get a Health Canada licence, the physician is required to provide more information about their patient.
Capler is also critical of the marijuana supplied by Prairie Plant Systems, claiming the quality is well below that offered through clubs.
"If that's what's going to be distributed at the pharmacies, then that's really sub-quality care," Capler says. "People need access to a wide variety of high-quality strains."
O'Brien dismisses Capler's criticism of government marijuana.
"This old yarn about the Health Canada product just goes on and on.
It's pure bud, it's good stuff and it's not full of toxins and heavy metals. The Health Canada requirement is that it's within the same limits as tobacco," O'Brien says.