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IACM-Bulletin of 11 June 2000

UK: Cross-party support for medical use of Cannabis

A bill calling for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use was coming before Parliament for its second reading on 8 June. The government is expected to object to it.

A cross-party group of 34 Members of Parliament, including such well-known Commons names as Tony Benn and Martin Bell, signed a motion on 7 June deploring the continuing criminalisation of patients using the drug medicinally.

The change in the law has been recommended by a House of Lords science select committee in November 1998, which suggested a limited number of doctors should be allowed to prescribe cannabis.

In all, 22 Labour, 5 Liberal Democrat, 4 Tory MPs, one Scottish National Party, one Plaid Cymru and Mr Bell, an independent, signed the motion. Among them were Liberal Democrat deputy leader Alan Beith, Labour's former transport minister Gavin Strang, the Tory EURosceptic Teresa Gorman, former Labour minister Frank Field, and Martin O'Neill, Labour chairman of the Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee.

Their motion read: "That this House deplores the continuing criminalisation of thousands of otherwise law-abiding people who use cannabis medicinally to relieve chronic pain and distress caused by multiple sclerosis, Aids and the side-effects of chemotherapy; and supports the simple change in the law recommended by the House of Lords Select Committee on Science to allow a limited number of doctors to prescribe cannabis to names patients in the same way that millions of other prescriptions are now dispensed."

Signatories: Paul Flynn, John Austin, Dr Evan Harris, Tom Brake, Dr Brian Iddon, Mohammed Sarwar, Peter Pike, Syd Rapson, Lembit Opik, Martin O'Neill, Betty Williams, Mike Wood, Sir Richard Body, Derek Wyatt, Jamie Cann, Teresa Gorman, Margaret Ewing, Tony Worthington, Ann Clwyd, Alan Beith, John McAllion, Adrian Sanders, Harry Cohen, Dari Taylor, Peter Bradley, Simon Thomas, Dr Gavin Strang, Peter Bottomley, Martin Bell, Tony Benn, Tony McWalter, Robert Jackson, Jane Griffiths, Frank Field.

(Source: PA News of 8 June 2000)

Canada: Extend of deadline for responses of bidders for marijuana contract

On 5 May Health Canada issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to establish a Canadian source of quality, standardized, affordable, research-grade marijuana. In a 10-page letter to bidders this week, Health Canada extended the deadline for responses to 21 June from 6 June.

Health Canada aims to have a five-year contract in place by this summer, estimated by some at around $5 million. There has been great interest in the contract, with 241 potential bidders shelling out about $65 each for the department's tender package.

In the letter the ministry gives answers to frequently asked questions. Health Canada will obtain Mexican-Colombian hybrid seeds, it responded to questions about the seed source. Bidders may provide their own seeds for the pilot project, but the department could provide the hybrid seeds, if necessary. The government is calling for security cameras, infrared sensors and barbed wire fences as well as personnel who have had no record since 1985 of any drug offences in Canada or any other country.

Potential cannabis growers include the Oaks Farms, in Daysland, Alta, east of Camrose; McGill and Guelph universities; SNC-Lavalin; GW Pharmaceuticals; British Columbia's Ministry of Forestry; the village of Masset, B.C.; and something called the Molecular Delivery Corporation in California.

The contract would see the production of 100,000 cigarettes and 85 kilos of marijuana in the first year. The weed has to be grown, cultivated, dried, prepared and delivered to the government. The marijuana will be used for clinical research trials.

(Sources: Ottawa Citizen of 8 June 2000, Calgary Herald of 27 May 2000)

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