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Canadians pan government-backed Marijuana
( 2003-09-16 16:32) (Agencies)

Some of the first patients to smoke Canada's government-approved marijuana say it is "disgusting" and they want their money back.

An man shows a marijuana leaf.  [AP]
Health Canada, the federal health department, started selling marijuana in July to bring relief to patients suffering from AIDS, cancer and other diseases. The move followed a court order that patients should not be forced to get their marijuana from drug dealers on the streets.

But some of the first to buy the government's marijuana say it is no good.

"It's totally unsuitable for human consumption," said Jim Wakeford, 58, an AIDS patient in Gibsons, British Columbia.

Wakeford and Barrie Dalley, a 52-year-old Toronto man who uses marijuana to combat the nausea associated with AIDS, are returning their 1-ounce bags, and Dalley is demanding his money back about $195 plus taxes. Wakeford is returning his unpaid bill for two bags with a written complaint.

The marijuana is being grown for Health Canada deep underground in a vacant mine section in Flin Flon, Manitoba, by Prairie Plant Systems on a contract worth about $7.5 million.

Ten patients have registered with Health Canada to buy marijuana directly from the government to alleviate their medical symptoms. Another 39 applications are pending.

No patients have complained directly to Health Canada so far, spokeswoman Krista Apse said, and the department will not accept returns or provide refunds.

Meanwhile, Vancouver inaugurated North America's first government-authorized drug-injection site Monday. The controversial government-funded project will give users injection kits and allow them to shoot up under nurse supervision.

Drug users sometimes use dirty needles and water from puddles to shoot up. Now, addicts wanting to use the new facility will be ushered into a brightly lit room lined on one side by open, mirrored booths where they can inject drugs.

After finishing, they will be taken to a "chill-out room," where they can receive counseling and peer referrals.

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