Volume 93, Issue 22

Wednesday, October 6, 1999


NEWS

Tuition freeze called for by med council

OUSA prepares to tackle tuition

New technology to aid interviews

Newman teaches students ABCs

High times in Montreal Marijuana centre lights up city

U of T housing in drafty situation

Briefs

Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus

High times in Montreal Marijuana centre lights up city



By Sean Maraj
Gazette Staff

Smoking pot and getting high won't be on the agenda for a new store opening in Montreal this week.

Named the Compassion Club, the store will sell marijuana as a method to control pain due to severe illnesses and diseases, said Caroline Doyer, co-owner of the store.

"We're a non-profit organization that will distribute medical marijuana to people in need and suffering from painful diseases like cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis," she said.

Doyer was also quick to point out her club takes precautions to ensure its patients are really in need of the marijuana for medical reasons. "We verify everything is in order and make sure that the doctor has verified that the patient needs marijuana," she said.

The opening of the club has garnered support from Londoner Lynn Harichy. Harichy operated a similar establishment which was recently closed by London police. A crusader for the legalization of marijuana as a medicinal substance, she was quick to praise the opening of the Compassion Club and hoped more would follow.

"I think it's great. We should have more of these stores to keep people out of the black market and teach people how to use marijuana properly," Harichy said.

While Harichy praised the opening of the club, the Montreal police are treating the club and it's work with caution. Doyer said they have already approached her.

"The police clearly explained that they have to apply the law and that they also have to protect us and our outpatients," Doyer said.

Const. Stephane Banfi, Montreal Police spokesperson, said the police are currently running an investigation into the club and no action will be taken until this investigation is complete. Banfi also said the police will enforce the law if the need should arise.

"We are open to discussion between government and doctors and until that's done, we are here to enforce the law," Banfi said. "The police can't decide that it's alright just because it's a noble cause. The police's job is to enforce the law."

Health Canada spokesperson Reva Berman said in response to public demand, Health Canada has been conducting trials to determine if in fact the effects of marijuana alleviate the symptoms of certain diseases. She said they are currently awaiting results from clinical tests to confirm the validity of such claims and added while many people say marijuana is helpful, there is currently not much scientific evidence to back up the claim.

"There is a group of severe life threatening diseases and in each case there's anecdotal evidence that marijuana is helpful, but there's no scientific evidence to prove that," she said.

Doyer said she remained confident that marijuna does have medicinal value and that the Compassion Club is helping people who are suffering severe pain. "We want to help the people, the cancer people and HIV people. Our goals are to help people and that's what we're doing," she said.


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Copyright The Gazette 1999