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CHOCO
Dec 20th, 2002, 02:41 PM
One-Click Marijuana Shopping for Sick Canadians
Thu December 19, 2002 04:32 PM ET
By Robert Melnbardis

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canadian activists for the medicinal use of marijuana celebrated a court victory on Thursday by launching an Internet site offering home delivery of cannabis for seriously ill people.

Saying it would even offer tax deductions for orders, the Marijuana Party Foundation took the unprecedented step after Quebec Superior Court Judge Gilles Cadieux stopped the drug-trafficking trial of two volunteers from Compassion Club of Montreal, a group that provides marijuana for medicinal purposes.

In his long-awaited decision, Judge Cadieux agreed that the pair, Marc-Boris St-Maurice, 33, and Alexandre Neron, 22, had planned to sell marijuana when they were arrested almost three years ago. But the judge noted that it was unconstitutional to deny patients access to the drug.

Judge Cadieux said he did not have the authority to rule on the constitutionality of Canada's marijuana laws. Prosecutors did not indicate whether they would appeal his decision.

Earlier this month, a parliamentary committee urged the Canadian government to relax its laws on possession of marijuana. The committee on the nonmedical use of drugs said marijuana should be decriminalized, but not legalized, an idea U.S. drug control officials quickly condemned.

HOME DELIVERY OF MARIJUANA

Elated by Judge Cadieux's decision, St-Maurice hailed it as both a moral and legal victory. The Marijuana Party Foundation, operated by the federally chartered Marijuana Party, reacted to the ruling by immediately launching a Web Site offering to dispense therapeutic cannabis.

The Web Site, www.marijuanahomedelivery.ca, offers two formats of "highest quality therapeutic cannabis" with a THC content of 8 percent or more. A two-gram package sells for C$30 ($19) while Internet surfers can order a 10 gram shipment for C$120.

"You are not contributing to organized crime. All revenues raised from our service go to advance efforts to end cannabis prohibition," the organization promises on its Web Site.

Those wishing to order marijuana via the Web Site must be Canadian citizens residing in Canada, 18 years of age, and provide a doctor's diagnosis of an illness known to be treatable or alleviated through the use of cannabis.

"It's an online Compassion Club to serve all Canadians who would have a need for medical marijuana," St-Maurice told Reuters.

MEDICINAL CANNABIS LEGAL IN CANADA

Canadian law allows access to medical marijuana for a certain patients. Canada's Office of Cannabis Medical Access oversees regulations brought down in July 2001 that allow marijuana use by people suffering from grave and debilitating illnesses.

Applicants include those who have a terminal illness or serious medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord disease, cancer or AIDS/HIV infection.

The Canadian government is working on the cultivation of a safe and standardized supply of marijuana for use as a medical treatment.

But that supply is not yet available and those seeking medicinal marijuana must turn elsewhere for access to the drug. Often, they must apply for a license to grow the marijuana themselves or seek it on the street.

St-Maurice said the Marijuana Party Foundation does not have permits from the Canadian government allowing the group to sell cannabis online. Its Internet initiative also does not have the consent of the Canadian Medical Association or other professional groups.

But St-Maurice said those hurdles will not prevent the Web Site from taking orders and shipping marijuana.

"In January, we'll be starting to offer tax deductions for the marijuana we sell online," he said.

($1=$1.55 Canadian)