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.
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.
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 $30 Canadian ($19) while Internet surfers can order a 10 gram shipment for $120 Canadian.
"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 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 said.
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.
Date: 20 December 2002