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On a day-to-day basis, the Vancouver Island Compassion Club remains a
quasi-legal purveyor of medical marijuana, producing and providing
pot to people in pain.

But these days, club founder Phillipe Lucas is spending more time
studying the drug than selling it.

Lucas recently announced that Health Canada has granted unconditional
approval" for a study looking at the effects of smoked cannabis and
chronic pain" that will operate from the society's downtown

It's the first high-THC smoked cannabis study in North America and
we're the first compassion club in North America, maybe the world, to
be involved in this kind of study," Lucas said. It's part of our
longstanding research agenda."

The Health Canada-sanctioned study is being funded with a $50,000
grant from the U.S-based Marijuana Policy Project and conducted by
Lucas, Dr. Shannon Hamersley, qualified physcians with a background
in chronic pain, and Rick Doblin, director of the Multidsiciplinary
Association of Psychedelic Studies, a non-profit research organization.

The group is currently developing a clinical protocol for the study,
which will then be submitted to Health Canada for final approval.

The group plans to provide 15 participants with marijuana of varying
strengths - one with zero per cent THC (the active ingredient), one
with 10-12 per cent THC, and one with 16-18 per cent THC.

The participants will smoke one of the three grades for an entire
week, before switching to the next. Neither they nor the researchers
will know which strain they are using. The researchers will also
monitor and record side effects. The study itself will take about six
weeks, but it will take several more months to compile the results,
Lucas said.

While it's unusual for compassion clubs to undertake clinical
studies, Lucas said it will be cheaper and quicker than a
government-run study.

Lucas is currently working on two other cannabis research projects -
a hepatitis-C protocol with the University of California, San
Francisco, and a nausea and pregnancy survey in conjunction with the
University of British Columbia.

We want to show that compassion clubs are more than just
distributors, we can be contributors to scientific understanding," he

Police, however, don't always see it that way.

Last May, West Shore RCMP busted what Lucas refers to as a compassion
club production facility" in Sooke. Police called it a marijuana
grow-op. The matter is slated for trial on July 28 and 29.

At the same time, Health Canada announced plans last week to
streamline its regulations governing medical marijuana amid
complaints from registered users that finding doctors to prescribe
pot is extremely difficult.

An estimated 864 people are authorized to possess marijuana for
medical purposes, while 636 Canadians are allowed to cultivate it for
that purpose, and 143 people are receiving medical marijuana from the
government's $5.7 million grow operation in an abandoned mine in Flin
Flon, Man.

Author: Brennan Clarke
Cited: Vancouver Island Compassion Club http://thevics.com
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project http://www.mpp.org
Cited: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mmjcn.htm (Cannabis - Medicinal -
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?232 (Chronic Pain)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?235 (Vancouver Island Compassion

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