The Canadian government has 250 kilograms of marijuana and doesn’t know what to do with it. The buds were grown deep in a mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba, by Prairie Plant Systems, as part of a $5.7 million, five-year contract. Originally, the med-buds were intended for government-approved research on patients with federal exemptions, but after months of delay, Health Canada now says the stockpiled herb just isn’t good enough to share with the sick and dying.
In an unpublished January 2002 interview, Prairie Plant president Brent Zettl told Cannabis Culture that the cannabis grown in his facilities was top quality. He confidently asserted that his product “would speak for itself” when it was tested by the many ill Canadians eagerly awaiting the first crop of government ganja. Zettl also predicted the pot would be in patients’ pipes by May, but now it looks like the buds might never be used.
The med-pot project was started by Allan Rock when he was Minister of Health, but after a cabinet shuffle Anne McLellan took over the ministry. She openly criticized the pot’s consistency, telling the media that Prairie Plant’s harvest was a potpourri of 185 different varieties that would muddle medical research.
McLellan lamented that the DEA had refused to let Canada use their seeds (even though their pot is notoriously low-quality), and so they had been forced to give Prairie Plant seeds from the RCMP stockpile of seized seeds.
“I offered to provide Health Canada with any strains they wanted, free of charge,” explained Marc Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture and owner of Marc Emery Direct Marijuana Seeds. “They refused my offer, and yet the seeds they got from the cops likely came from me anyways, stolen from me during one of their many raids.”
Although Cannabis Culture was unable to reach Zettl for further comment before this issue’s deadline, he claimed to have the consistency problem licked when we originally spoke to him in January. What he told us doesn’t match with McLellan’s claims at all.
“We grew out a whole bunch and then took two clones and grew Health Canada’s batch from there,” said Zettl. “The two clones are very similar in [cannabinoid]profile. We are basing the first product on these two individuals on a go-forward basis.”
Zettl added that they would keep some of the different strains going as well. “On the side we will still screen the other material that is coming through and characterize the population, to see what changes are required. We will have a gene bank established of some material, and once the clinicians or Health Canada determine they want a different profile, we will be able to go to the collection and pick one or two that will fit that bill a little tighter.”
So all Canada’s med-pot patients have for now are unanswered questions. How come Anne McLellan’s claims don’t match up with Zettl’s? Why does Health Canada think that it’s better for the sick and dying to grow their own unknown strains rather than using the government’s? And when will Health Canada stop using the most vulnerable members of society as pawns in their vicious war on pot?
– Canadian Office of Cannabis Medical Access: web http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/ocma/bckdr_3-0601.htm; email [email protected]; contact page http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/ocma/contact_us.htm
– Prairie Plant Systems: web www.prairieplant.com; email [email protected]