Wednesday, April 14, 1999



Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, PC):

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to commend the hon. member for Rosemont for putting this private members' motion before the House and for the key role he has played these last few weeks in urging the federal government to take concrete measures to support the use of marijuana for therapeutic and medical purposes.

I also want to congratulate all those who, in their own way, have constantly put pressure on the elected representatives so that this debate could be held and concrete measures could be implemented to help the people who need to use marijuana for medical purposes, who need to find some relief from pain and suffering or to deal with the symptoms of chronic or terminal illnesses.

Of course, I am glad to join all those who have worked together to urge the federal government to have the political courage and the leadership to recognize the medicinal value of marijuana by immediately implementing
measures to legalize the use of marijuana for therapeutic purposes.

As my colleague from New Brunswick Southwest said, this issue must be addressed from a compassionate point of view. We must keep an open mind and show compassion throughout this debate.

We have to keep in mind that for the sick who need marijuana for therapeutic purposes, every day they suffer is one day too many. Do not think I am talking in abstractions. I know what I am talking about, because
my mother died of cancer after many long years of suffering. I will never forget how useless I felt as I watched her suffer and I wish I had known the therapeutic effects of marijuana at the time.

However, it was unfortunately only a few years later that I learned about its therapeutic use, and I support the actions of those fighting for its medical use.

I will tell you that this decision was very easy when I learned that the leaders of this campaign were those who were themselves sick and had to obtain marijuana illegally at the risk of being arrested.

I think it is totally unacceptable that someone who is chronically ill or in the final stages of AIDS is being penalized for medical treatment that many doctors would recommend if they could.

Experiments have shown and a significant number of health care professionals have recognized it publicly that the use of cannabis has beneficial effects in the case of at least four serious diseases. First, by
lowering eye pressure, it controls glaucoma. Second, it reduces spasms in victims of MS. Third, it reduces nausea and suffering of those with cancer. Finally, it helps those with AIDS fight depression and regain the appetite they need to survive.

It is also felt that marijuana can help those suffering from certain diseases such as migraines and emphysema.

The other factor working considerably in favour of the use of marijuana for medical purposes is that it produces no side effects, as too often occur with other treatments and which can be of such intensity as to discourage those who are ill from taking their medication, despite their suffering.

The Deputy Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but the time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. The order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.
[.] 1830 [+] [-]

Mr. Bernard Bigras:
Mr. Speaker, I would ask the unanimous consent of the House in order for the Hon. member for Shefford to finish her speech.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to continue?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Shefford will have six minutes to complete her speech the next time the motion is debated in the House.

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