Medical Marijuana by country.

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Blowing Smoke

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:01 am

Monday Magazine wrote:
Blowing Smoke

Monday Magazine
Feb 27 2008

When Victoria’s Tim Wilkins realized his Health Canada licence to possess medical cannabis was set to expire last year, he diligently filled out the eight-page renewal form, paid $65 to obtain his physician’s signature and submitted the package to Health Canada’s Marihuana Medical Access Division in Ottawa on August 22—13 weeks before it was due.

“I’d dealt with [MMAD] for a few years, so I knew how long it could take,” says Wilkins, who declined to let Monday publish his real last name, fearing the stigma still attached to medical cannabis use.

On November 27 Wilkins’ new license arrived—five weeks after the promised eight-week processing period had passed—and three days after the old one had already expired.

“The system is set up to be as frustrating and confusing as possible and is really just a joke,” says Wilkins. “I had never believed it possible that an arm of government could be so ass backwards, so inept, so slow and so frustrating.”

The 35-year-old suffers from degenerative hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy, a muscle-wasting disease that leaves Wilkins, a former seismic exploration worker in the oil and gas industry, with “constant and chronic pain.” Before a colleague suggested he try marijuana to relieve his discomfort in 1999, Wilkins says he had never experimented with any of the illicit products on Canada’s list of controlled substances.

“I am, and have always been, a law-abiding citizen,” says Wilkins. “But it was immediately obvious what [medical cannabis] was doing for me.”

Smoking marijuana, he says, provides a degree of relief from his daily pain without the harsh side effects associated with many laboratory-produced prescription pharmaceuticals.

Today Wilkins’ is one of a growing chorus of voices—many emanating from the progressively, critically and terminally ill—outraged by the bureaucratic tap dance required to win crucial government support to use the herb that can serve as muscle relaxant, pain reliever, anti-depressant and appetite stimulant for a variety of medical conditions.

Critics, lawyers and clients alike say despite repeated orders by Canada’s court system for the federal government to provide citizens a consistent supply of medical cannabis, or the legal protections required to access one outside government control, Canada’s MMAD and the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations [MMAR] that form the framework for obtaining therapeutic cannabis are plagued by a lack of political will that forces some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens into a frontline fight for medication.

Why the government remains so reluctant to back medical marijuana with the same enthusiasm it offers other pharmacological treatments remains unclear. Conservative and Liberal governments alike have cited inadequate research and continuing obligations under the United Nations’ Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Critics of that explanation contend government resistance has more to do with pressure from the United States’ perpetual “war on drugs” and intervention from a pharmaceutical industry that fears an effective—and natural—product inundating the market.

Whatever the actual reasons, the upshot of the government’s half-hearted foray into the realm of medical cannabis is clear. Medical cannabis proponents see Health Canada’s MMAD as a barrier, rather than a conduit, toward a safe, affordable, reliable source of therapeutic marijuana.

<span class=postbigbold>Truth in numbers</span>

“[The Marihuana Medical Access Division] is a program that was set up to fail from the word go,” says Victoria’s Jason Wilcox, who has been HIV/AIDS positive for 15 years. He uses medical cannabis as an appetite stimulant, pain reliever and counterbalance to the agitative effects of the steroids he uses to keep his body from wasting away. Wilcox claims medical marijuana allows him to avoid no less than four prescription drugs, including Stemetil, Restoral and Percocet. From his experience with the MMAD since its early days he identifies myriad problems, from delays to contradictory messages to a complete absence of advice on production, consumption and legal issues facing growers. Wilcox says one need only look as far as enrollment numbers to see the program is failing the very people it was ostensibly established to help.

As of December 2007, 2,329 Canadians possessed a government-sanctioned Authorization to Possess [ATP] dried marijuana—a dismal record considering the program was initiated in 1999 and a 2002 study commissioned by Health Canada estimated 1.2 million Canadians use marijuana for medical purposes. By contrast, Oregon’s Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP)—also established in 1999—boasts 15,927 registered users for a population one-tenth the size of Canada’s in a country engaged in a protracted drug war.

Of the 2,329 Health Canada licensees, only 488 Canadians are currently accessing government-grown marijuana. Critics say that number is likely far lower factoring in the number of clients who return their cannabis to Health Canada with complaints about its poor quality.

So despite the existence of an almost decade-old federal marijuana program that has had its own supply of pot since 2003, the vast majority of medical marijuana users continue to access their medical cannabis by means still considered illegal in the eyes of the law.

In Victoria, the Vancouver Island Compassion Society provides 745 members with medical cannabis and cannabis-based products—with only a doctor’s signature and proof of condition. VICS founder Philippe Lucas estimates only 60 of those members possess Health Canada authorization.

At Victoria’s Cannabis Buyers Club, founder Ted Smith says his downtown storefront provides between 2,200 and 2,300 sick clients with medical marijuana, again with only a doctor’s endorsement and evidence of an illness requiring therapeutic cannabis.

“Maybe between 100 and 150 of those clients have filled out Health Canada forms,” says Smith.

Research conducted in 2006 by Wendy Little and Eric Nash, owners of Island Harvest, a Duncan company with the only organically-certified medical marijuana crop in Canada suggests compassion clubs supply approximately 15,000 people with medical cannabis.

By combining the number of medical marijuana users in Canada who access Health Canada cannabis (0.02 percent) with the number who rely on compassion clubs (1.3 percent), Nash and Little say that leaves 98.68 percent of medical marijuana users in the nation who turn to the black market—that is, friends and street-corner dealers—for the product. In a country where the judiciary has stated unequivocally that the state has a responsibility to provide safe, reliable and legal access to marijuana, this record is particularly troubling.

“If this was any other government-run health program, the public would be outraged,” says Philippe Lucas. “But because it’s medical cannabis, [the government] figures the same standards don’t apply.”

Jason Wilcox says medical cannabis users in the country have had to fight for every minimal right they’ve been accorded—and those rights should extend farther than they do now.

“Why must the disabled and dying continue to go to fight for something the courts have already said we have a right to do?” asks Wilcox. “The disabled are being walked on.”

<span class=postbigbold>Puzzled politicians </span>

Perhaps it is no surprise the government seems hesitant, if not downright negligent, when it comes to holding the country’s medical marijuana system to a standard clients deem acceptable.

The MMAD’s origins are rooted not in compassion built on sound scientific and anecdotal research by the government, but in a hastily-mustered bureaucracy spawned because multiple levels of the Canadian courts ordered it to do so. Rather than launching credible appeals, the government chose to slouch toward compliance. As noted in the sidebar on page 10, since the 1999 Wakeford case, the federal government has done the bare minimum to fulfill its constitutional obligation to stakeholders, failed outright several times and has repeatedly been brought back before the judge to defend it actions.

In 2002, then-health minister Anne McLellan told the annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, “I understand the issues that we in this room have and feel in relation to the lack of scientific evidence, possible liability issues and the fact that the federal Department of Health does find itself in a slightly ironic position when I am responsible for the single largest campaign in the federal government—the anti-smoking campaign,” she said.

McLellan forgets, or was perhaps not informed, that many Canadians who use medical marijuana do not smoke it in rolled form, but instead utilize vapourizers that neutralize most of the carcinogenic elements of the smoke, or ingest it in baked goods like cookies, inhale concentrated sprays, pop cannabis-packed capsules, slurp spoonfuls of tinctures and oils, or steep it in tea. The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club has even developed a cannabis patch that reportedly relieves muscle and joint pain.

McLellan, speaking to the CMA, went on to add “I don’t mean to say that the courts made me do it, or made [former health minister] Allan [Rock] do it, although there is some truth to that. The courts took us down a certain path.”

The courts may have made the binding decisions, but it was sick Canadians that demanded government action in the first place. And it is sick Canadians that continue to demand changes to the way therapeutic marijuana is treated in this country.

<span class=postbigbold>Delays, damned delays </span>

For many clients of Health Canada’s MMAD, nothing underscores the program’s absence of compassion like the interminable delays that occur in the processing of forms and in the program’s response to telephone inquiries.

“Because of the problems I’ve had, I keep a log now,” says frustrated client Tim Wilkins. “Every phone call, every e-mail. It’s like some sort of tragic comedy.”

If marijuana were considered a legitimate form of medication by the government, the branch tasked with administering it would not deign to treat MMAD clients with the degree of contempt it regularly demonstrates.

The minutes of a July 11, 2006 MMAD staff meeting obtained by advocacy group Canadians for Safe Access through an access to information request provides a glimpse at the scope of barriers placed in the way of clients exercising their constitutional right to obtain their medication.

At that meeting, an MMAD employee identified only as Susan unveils the new protocol for MMAD call centre staff to address clients phoning to inquire about the status of their renewal application, calling it the “standard line document.”

“Due to the current volume of applications you can expect to wait eight weeks after the receipt of the final piece of information to complete your application or renewal,” staff were instructed to tell clients. “If it had been less than six weeks since we received all required information for your application, your call will take your file out of rotation and will delay the review and processing of your application or renewal.”

The release of this information seems to corroborate the longstanding rumour floating around the medical cannabis community that each time a client queried MMAD, their file would be pulled from its position, consulted, then placed at the bottom of the pile.

“There is only one phone number and address to reach them at,” says Wilkins. “The number gets you to an exclusive answering service, they take your name and number and then twice a day they pass along the message to MMAD.”

Despite Health Canada’s promise to respond within three business days to all inquiries, Wilkins’ telephone log shows he went 36 days without a returned call during his 2007 license renewal process. Last year he says he went 41 days.

These delays are understandable considering only two MMAD staff are tasked with fielding inquiries. The 2007-08 MMAD budget is only $941,109.

Delays cited by clients extend beyond phone calls to document processing times.

Duncan’s Glenn Spicer told Monday he submitted his MMAD renewal forms four months before his ATP licence was set to expire, “and it still came two days late.” The artist and biologist uses medical marijuana to relieve the pain of prostate cancer and its corresponding treatments.

He adds that Health Canada has made a simple matter “horribly complex and inefficient” with its mountains of paperwork. “I can get prescriptions for far more dangerous drugs with just a visit to my doctor,” he says.

The initial MMAD ATP application form is a staggering 33 pages long and any changes to client information— from addresses, to a change in physician—require submitting amendment forms. The Oregon Medical Marihuana Program asks clients to submit only an eight page form at the outset.

MMAD clients are required to renew their licence every year, regardless whether their condition is permanent or terminal.

VICS’ Lucas argues that if Health Canada will not implement a program that can respond quickly to the needs of its clients, than some, or all, responsibility should be delegated to compassion clubs with corresponding legal protections.

He says that while medical cannabis often allows users a degree of lucidity in their final days, many are forced to die criminals because the government program can’t meet their needs.

But, as Health Canada’s chief of staff William King reminded Island Harvest’s Nash and Little in a January 2007 letter, “Compassion clubs have no legal authority to produce, sell, or provide marihuana, and therefore the conduct of these activities is in contravention of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.”

Since its first tentative steps toward a national medical marijuana program, Health Canada has never deemed it necessary to conduct a comprehensive client satisfaction study of the services it offers. It has led two stakeholder consultation sessions, though representation from actual clients was minimal and panel members included representatives from the law enforcement and pharmacology sectors.

An as-yet unpublished study authored by Philippe Lucas in conjunction with a University of Guelph professor does what Health Canada has never found it necessary to do—it asks clients what they think. Some of the findings are particularly instructive about who is being harmed by Health Canada’s lacklustre approach to medical marijuana access.

For example, the largest segment of the survey group (28.6 percent) claim to have an annual income of between $10,000 and $19,000. Asked whether they were ever worried there would not be enough food in their household before they had enough money to buy more, the largest number (33.7 percent) checked “sometimes.”

This supports the contention of many critics of the federal program that it is society’s more marginalized members who are most in need of access to regular, affordable marijuana. The wealthy, they contend, can access marijuana on the black market with greater ease and less fear of legal persecution.

Jason Wilcox says mixed messages from the government further add to the cloud that hangs over the program. He is referring to the ongoing confusion about the status of licences to produce under the MMAR.

“It remains the goal of Health Canada to eventually phase out Personal-Use Production Licences,” wrote Health Canada chief of staff William King in 2007, but that is small comfort to Wilcox who says the government has been said that since PPL’s were first introduced.

Wilcox and his partner Ann Genovy, who is also HIV-positive, tend separate crops to meet their medical needs, but have been waiting for an answer from the government about the fate of the PPL’s.

“They are holding us hostage by not letting us know what we can do,” says Wilcox. “I don’t want to move into a new home with my family, start growing, and then have the door kicked in by the police because they’ve changed the personal-production rules.”

<span class=postbigbold>High cost of government pot </span>

For a four-month supply of government-grown pot Jason Wilcox acquired last year while waiting for his own crop to flower, he now owes $6,726 with a 2.5 percent interest charge each month. Wilcox, who lives in public housing with his family, earns approximately $10,000 a year.

“We don’t even open the bills anymore,” he says.

Medical cannabis isn’t covered by any provincial health plan in Canada, while compensation and insurance bodies rarely condone its use, leaving all medical cannabis clients to cover 100 percent of the costs out of their own pockets.

Wilcox and Genovy have opted to ignore Health Canada’s payment notices until federal Health Minister Tony Clement can provide the pair an acceptable response to their queries about the 1,500 percent markup on MMAD pot between the price the government pays Prairie Plant Systems for the monoculture product it grows in an abandoned copper and zinc mine in Flin Flon Manitoba and the price it charges clients.

Wilcox and Genovy recently wrote Clement a letter tasking for clarification. While Clement himself didn’t respond, he did task MMAD manager Ronald Denault with the job.

“Let me assure that there is no markup to the price charged for Health Canada’s supply of dried marihuana,” wrote Denault. “Health Canada strives to provide a consistent, high quality, legally available source of dried marihuana to authorized persons at a reasonable cost.”

Denault’s reply is a far cry from the findings of British Columbia Compassion Society researcher Rielle Capler, who in a July 2007 study found, through access to information requests filed with Health Canada, that the contract with PPS stipulates the government pays $328.75 per kilogram for 420 annual kilograms. It is important to remember, notes Capler, that each kilogram contains stalk, stem, seed and leaf, not only the potent flowering head that contains the highest concentration of cannabinoids.

By Capler’s estimate, MMAD clients collectively are charged $5,000 per kilogram when purchasing it through Health Canada. Capler’s numbers show that while Health Canada pays approximately $10 an ounce, the final price for consumers is $150.

At the time of the BCCS researcher’s writing, consumers of Health Canada medical cannabis were more than $300,000 in arrears to the federal government.

As of April 2007, Capler writes that only 351 out of 1742 ATP license holders were accessing PPS pot while the total cost of the current contract with PPS today totals $10,278,276.

The issue of the PPS monopoly is of particular concern to those who recognize the medicinal value different cannabis strains provide different users. There is a profound difference in the physiological and psychological effects of sativa and indica strains; Health Canada authorizes PPS to grow only one strain, which company representatives have argued in the past ensures a consistent product for consumers.

But as noted previously, medical cannabis users rely on a host of ingestion methods, most of which Health Canada explicitly forbids MMAD license-holders from producing with their government-supplied cannabis.

Denault reminds Jason Wilcox of this in his letter when he writes, “Finally, I would like to remind you that other activities such as producing tetrahydrocannabinol by extraction with chemicals are outside the scope of the MMAR.”

Capler says leaving legal medical marijuana distribution in the hands of the government does a disservice to clients and the taxpaying public alike.

“The 1,500 percent mark-up on cannabis charged to patients highlights the risk of Health Canada creating a monopoly over supply. Health Canada is requiring taxpayers to fund inefficient practices, capital upgrades and equipment for a private contractor,” concludes Capler. “Health Canada has chosen a policy and program that seemingly creates a windfall for one monopoly supplier to the detriment of patients and taxpayers.”

<span class=postbigbold>Times are a-changin’ (slowly) </span>

While the federal government sticks resolutely to its prohibitionist guns, medical marijuana is making a slow but relentless march toward acceptance by the general public. A 2006 study by University of Lethbridge sociologist Reginald Bibby found 93 percent of Canadians polled support legally using medical cannabis for health reasons.

However, public policy, and the nation’s policy makers themselves, remain woefully behind the times. Observers say that this too may change in coming decades as the baby boomers—the generation that embraced widespread marijuana use in the west in the 1960s—grow older and grow ill.

“I think there’s going to be a fundmental shift as the baby boomers begin to exercise their fundamnetal right to access medicine of their choice,” says Island Harvest’s Eric Nash.

But it will surely be an uphill battle to challenge the policies of a federal government bent on structuring public policy around ideology instead of information.

As Tim Wilkins attests, despite the benefits of his medical cannabis use, and despite his legal entitlement to do so, regular folks like him, sick and in pain, remain scared to step out of the shadows.

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Doubtful Doctors

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:07 pm

“Doctors would rather sign a form for a quasi-legal, grey market source like a compassion club, than get involved with Health Canada,” says Vancouver Island Compassion Society’s Philippe Lucas.

Monday Publications wrote:
Doubtful Doctors

Monday Pubications

Feb 27 2008

Since the current incarnation of Canada’s medical marijuana program was established, doctors have been forced by Health Canada to act as sentinel for a product whose complexities, methods of delivery and side effects they have little firsthand information—a situation that leaves many physicians hesitant to sign their names to the documents required for patients to access government pot.

“Our number one complaint is that patients can’t find a doctor who will endorse their MMAD application,” says Eric Nash of Duncan’s Island Harvest.

However, physicians’ reluctance often has more to do with the bureaucratic reach of Health Canada than it does with their own personal misgivings about prescribing a drug that remains in legal limbo.

The Canadian Medical Association is slowly coming around to recognizing the valuable role medical cannabis can play in helping users achieve a higher quality of life, but as recently as 2003 then-CMA president Dana Hanson said, “Physicians should not be the gatekeeper for a substance for which we do not have adequate scientific proof of safety or efficacy.”

Observers say the CMA’s regularly-parroted line rings hollow when general practitioners regularly prescribe drugs with little more knowledge than what they were told by representatives of the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture them.

The Canadian Medical Protective Association, the organization that insures 95 percent of Canada’s physicians, continues to issue its doctors a release form liability form that protects them from legal action relating to a clients use of medical marijuana. No such special form is required when prescribing addictive and dangerous drugs like Valium and codeine.

South of the border—where the “war on drugs” drags on—the 124,000-member American College of Physicians released a January 2008 position paper that supports comprehensive research into the therapeutic uses of medical marijuana.

It concludes, “Evidence not only supports the use of medical marijuana in certain conditions but also suggests numerous indications for cannabinoids. Additional research is needed to further clarify the therapeutic value of cannabinoids and determine optimal routes of administration.”

In Canada, new government research on the therapeutic value of medical marijuana will be a long time coming given the Harper government’s cancellation of the country’s $4-million Medical Marihuana Research Program in 2006.

The continuing prohibitionist view of the product by Health Canada and its political masters necessitates a need to micromanage distribution of the drug. It is this overt control that makes doctors wary of becoming entangled in the bureaucracy that accompanies the MMAR.

Over the past few years, Health Canada has taken to phoning doctors directly to question attempts to prescribe more than five daily grams to a patient.

Physicians and patients alike see this as a gross invasion of their privacy. It seems Health Canada may also be awakening to that fact.

In a March, 2007 correspondence obtained by Canadians for Safe Access through an ATI request, MMAD division program manager Barry Jones tells MMAD manager Ronald Denault, “I also feel that we may be going more into the realm of influencing, rather than informing the renewals.”

So Health Canada is now in the business of “influencing” physicians about dosage levels (between one and three daily grams is MMAD’s recommendation) for a drug it claims to know too little about.

In his November 2007 letter to Victoria’s Jason Wilcox, Denault writes, “The use of dried marihuana for medical purposes has not yet been proven scientifically.”

Fortunately for chronically and terminally sick Canadians, the country’s physicians are not so ill-informed as to overlook the benefits their patients derive from medical cannabis and often will endorse compassion club applications.

“Doctors would rather sign a form for a quasi-legal, grey market source like a compassion club, than get involved with Health Canada,” says Vancouver Island Compassion Society’s Philippe Lucas.

—Jason Youmans

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Ticket to Toke

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:16 pm

Monday Pubications wrote:
Ticket to Toke

Monday Pubications
Feb 27 2008

<ul class=postlist><li> Authorization to Possess (ATP): Grants licencee per- mission to possess an amount of marijuana consistent with the recommendations of the endorsing physician.</li>

<li> Personal-use Production Licence (PPL): A personal use production licence permits the holder to legally cultivate marijuana in an amount consistent with their medical needs and the terms of the licence.</li>

<li> Designated-person Production Licence (DPL): Permits a designated individual of the licence holder’s choice to cultivate marijuana for the licence holder, consistent with their medical needs and the terms of the licence. </li>
Possessing one of the above-mentioned licenses is no guarantee of easy access to therapeutic dope. The recent experience of Tim Wilkins is illustrative of the barriers that remain once a Personal-use Production Licence is issued.

Evicted from one apartment for growing—despite the fact that he holds a licence that permits him to do so—and unable to grow in his new home, Wilkins posted an ad on internet classified site Craigslist inviting potential landlords who would be willing to host his modest grow operation. Eventually settling on a late middle-age professional couple who lived on a small hobby farm, Wilkins felt he had found the perfect spot. However, despite clear expectations of the access he would require to the basement where the cannabis would be farmed, Wilkins says the relationship with his landlords soon disintegrated.

They demanded keys to the padlocks Wilkins placed on the doors—strictly forbidden under the terms of the MMAR. They refused access to the site at intervals crucial to achieving maximum yield from the plants, and finally, they demanded to be present whenever he was entering the premises.

Eventually Wilkins had to chop the plants and find an alternative drying and curing location—which cost him 20 percent of his yield.

If any Monday readers know a place Wilkins can establish a legal personal-use medical marijuana grow, he can be reached at

—Jason Youmans

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Brian Preston: Eight years of reefer madness

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:35 pm

The National Post wrote:
Brian Preston: Eight years of reefer madness

The National Post
Posted: February 27, 2008, 4:40 PM by Marni Soupcoff
Brian Preston

Jim Kerr was making lunch one Friday afternoon last month when seven police officers burst in, put him up against the wall and handcuffed him.

"I have multiple sclerosis and grow marijuana for it," he told them.

"Shut up," said an officer. "You're not under arrest yet."

"The marijuana is upstairs in a room I keep locked when the kids are home," he said.

"Shut up," he was told again. From upstairs came the gleeful howls of policemen: "We got it! Bust him!"

On a cold day, they refused to let him put on a jacket, took him away in handcuffs, called Children's Aid to take away his daughters, held him for four hours at the station, then told him to walk home.

Welcome to Canada, where for the past eight years courts have been calling upon Parliament to enact a law protecting the right of the sick to use cannabis as medicine -- and where successive governments have refused to allow Parliament to do so. Instead, Ottawa has created a series of arbitrary regulations that make marijuana more difficult to obtain than opium.

Jim Kerr thought he had done everything right. He had applied to Health Canada's Medical Marijuana Access Division, filled in his portion of their 33-page application and left the document with his doctor to fill in the rest. The overworked GP left the paperwork untouched for a year, and that turned Jim Kerr into a criminal.

When Kerr got home from the police station, he got on his computer to look for help. Some time earlier, he had bookmarked a website,, the work of a philosophy professor named Doug Hutchinson. Hutchinson is a former Rhodes Scholar whose Oxford thesis was on the subject of constitutional law, and also a person legally entitled to use cannabis for medical reasons. His own exhausting fight to assert his rights at the University of Toronto has forced him "down out of the Ivory Tower" and into medical marijuana activism. "The government is not being controlled properly by its own constitution," Hutchinson says. "I experienced the hideousness of it personally, and if I walk away, then I consent to it happening to others."

Hutchinson argues that no proper legal arrangement exists to protect Canadians who use cannabis medically, and therefore the entire prohibition against cannabis is invalid. A similar argument persuaded a Toronto judge to acquit a man of marijuana possession last July, and an Oshawa judge to acquit three men in November. This year, judges in London, Ont., and Kitchener, Ont., have thrown out simple possession charges in cases where the accused used Hutchinson's defence strategy.

Here is the basis of Hutchinson's argument: In May, 2000, Terry Parker, an epileptic, won the right to use cannabis to prevent seizures. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled "this is a matter for Parliament," and ordered a new law protecting his right be crafted by July, 2001. The day before that deadline, the government instead decreed the Medical Marijuana Access Regulations (MMAR).

These regulations were found to be so obstructionist that in 2003 two Ontario Superior Court justices ruled all marijuana possession laws illegitimate. Police in Ontario made no possession arrests for months. The Ontario Court of Appeal dealt with the issue in October of that year, bundling these cases together: upholding the acquittal of a teen on possession charges because the law was invalid at the time of arrest, and agreeing in another case that the MMAR were defective. (This means that if you were convicted of marijuana possession between 2001 and 2003, you should join a class action lawsuit now underway.)

Government lawyers begged the court to tell them what was needed to make the regulations constitutional, and the court obliged, declaring cannabis prohibition back in force in October, 2003.

One change the court demanded would have allowed for lawfully sanctioned "compassion clubs" to grow varieties of plant strains for registered patients. The government refused to implement this requirement, reinstating sections of the MMAR the court had found unconstitutional.

At the root of this ongoing legal mess lies a simple truth: For the past eight years, our government has been unwilling to pass an Act of Parliament that would recognize the right of the sick to use cannabis without being treated like criminals. It's popular in some quarters to blame "activist judges" for making law in this country, but on the marijuana file we repeatedly see government lawyers pleading with judges to keep making the law for them.

The intransigence of the current Conservative government is largely ideological: They believe all drugs are bad. Meanwhile, Liberals of the Chretien and Martin eras admit to having been driven by fear of offending our drug-warrior neighbours to the south. This is ironic: Health Canada currently permits fewer than 2,400 ill Canadians access to cannabis, while Oregon, a state with one-tenth our population, has 15,000 registered users. Then there's California, where over 400 dispensaries supply a quarter-million users with a wide variety of strains for different symptoms. (Health Canada grows a single strain of cannabis in an isolated mine shaft.)

Compassion clubs similar to those California dispensaries do operate in Canada. Philippe Lucas is head of the 700-plus-member Vancouver Island Compassion Society in Victoria, B.C. Lucas, who has hepatitis C from tainted blood, has doggedly used Access to Information requests to track Health Canada's marijuana bureaucracy. From a series of heavily blacked-out emails Lucas showed me, one can trace the almost laughable give and take as a bunch of non-scientists set themselves to write a marijuana "Fact Sheet" for physicians, pulling from a hat a recommended daily dose of one to four grams. It would be funny except that Lucas and his compassion society have felt compelled to mount their own constitutional challenge, after police seized and destroyed their organic grow operation and charged two employees with trafficking. The case continues in April in B.C.'s Supreme Court.

"Under the current system, the only way we see improvements to the medical marijuana program is through the courts," he says, "and that means people with hepatitis C or AIDS or cancer have been arrested, and found themselves in a desperate and untenable situation. We can't keep forcing change on the back of chronically ill Canadians."

-Brian Preston is the author of the martial arts memoir Me Chi and Bruce Lee.

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Ottawa nixed extradition deal, says Pot Prince Emery

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:51 am

The Vancouver Sun wrote:
Ottawa nixed extradition deal, says Pot Prince Emery

The Vancouver Sun
Ian Mulgrew, Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, March 27, 2008

VANCOUVER -- A tentative deal between Marc Emery and the U.S. government over money laundering and drug charges has been nixed by Ottawa, the marijuana crusader said Thursday.

Mr. Emery says the federal Conservatives have refused to go along with a proposal that would have seen him spend five years behind bars for selling marijuana seeds through the mail.

Under the defunct pact, Mr. Emery was to plead guilty on both sides of the border and accept a sentence of 10 years imprisonment on the understanding he would serve half, mostly in Canada.

"All that was required for this deal was a rubber stamp from the federal government," Mr. Emery said.

"They have, instead, rejected the deal without explanation . . . it is clearly political."

There was no immediate confirmation of Mr. Emery's claim from the federal government.

The longtime cannabis crusader said he originally agreed to the jail time in part to spare his associates and co-accused Michelle Rainey and Gregg Williams from prosecution and prison.

"I was willing, the Americans were willing and all that we needed was the Conservative government to also agree," the 50-year-old said.

"I certainly didn't think that would be a problem. After all, I was agreeing to serve five years for a crime that would result in little over a month in jail for any one of the many seed-sellers operating then, and now, in Vancouver and across Canada."

The trio was charged in Aug. 2005 after a raid by local police and American law-enforcement agents on MR. Emery's downtown Vancouver headquarters. They were accused of violating U.S. laws even though none had ventured south of the border.

Mr. Emery was the primary target, in particular, he says, because of his decade-long campaign to end the criminal prohibition against cannabis in North America.

"The Americans targeted me for my political views and activism," he said.

"And now my own government won't go along with an American-endorsed deal because they want me gone."

U.S. prosecutors have offered Mr. Williams and Ms. Rainey jail sentences in the three-to-five-month range and probation in exchange for guilty pleas.

Ms. Rainey, who suffers from Crohn's disease, was Emery's longtime right-hand but has since become one of the country's leading medical marijuana advocates.

"It's in the hands of my lawyer," she said about the deal. "But it may be the best option under the circumstances."

Williams, too, sees the deal as attractive compared to the prospect of a potential 10- to 20-plus-year sentence in an American penitentiary.

"It is hard for me to believe that marijuana is even illegal, much less that I'm facing the possibility of life in prison," he told me. "I'm stunned that our government can't deal with cannabis in our society in an adult way."

The political landscape has changed dramatically since MR. Emery began politicking for cannabis over a decade ago.

From 1998 until his arrest, MR. Emery even paid provincial and federal taxes as a "marijuana seed vendor" totalled nearly $600,000.

"Over the last 10 years, I operated openly and transparently," MR. Emery insisted.

"Six times a year, I sent every Member of Parliament a copy of my seed catalogue. I donated tens of thousands to politicians of every party, at every level of government. They all gladly cashed my cheques knowing full well the source of the money. Under the definition of the law, they are all guilty of money laundering, the very crime I'm being extradited for."

Kirk Tousaw, one of the lawyers involved in the defence team, said the government's stance seemed to run counter to the country's "traditional commitment to freedom, justice and compassion."

"We know that most Canadians understand that marijuana is a relatively harmless plant that should not be illegal," he said.

The last time Mr. Emery was convicted in Canada of selling cannabis seeds, back in 1998, he was given a $2,000 fine.

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Clarification demanded on where to light up

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:29 pm

The Gazette wrote:Clarification demanded on where medicinal marijuana smokers can light up

By Jordana Huber, Canwest News Service
February 8, 2009

<span class=postbigbold>Ron Lawrence uses medical marijuana for pain relief from burns covering most of his body.</span>

<table class=posttable align=right width=320><tr><td class=postcell><img src= width=300></td></tr><tr><td class=postcell><span class=postcap>Ron Lawrence uses medical marijuana for pain relief from burns covering most of his body.

Photograph by: Scott Webster/Canwest News Service, National Post</span></td></tr></table>TORONTO -- A restaurant owner facing a discrimination complaint for asking a medical marijuana smoker not to light up outside his business says Ottawa needs to step in and clarify its regulations governing where authorized permit holders can smoke.

Ted Kindos, owner of Gator Ted's Tap and Grill in Burlington, Ont., says he will ask the Federal Court to require Health Canada to expressly condition any medical marijuana permits upon compliance with provincial liquor licensing laws.

The court challenge comes as the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal set aside eight days for hearings this summer to determine whether Kindos discriminated against Steve Gibson when he asked him not to smoke marijuana outside his restaurant.

"We're really looking to the court for assistance in resolving the tension between the liquor laws that apply to Mr. Kindos, which he is obligated to comply with, and the rights granted to the holder of a permit for the medicinal use of marijuana," said Kindos' lawyer Gary Graham.

Gibson's case is one of three dealing with medical marijuana working its way through the human rights complaints process in Ontario.

Two other men have filed complaints against the province claiming its liquor laws - prohibiting controlled substances where alcohol is served - are discriminatory and should be amended.

Attempts to negotiate a resolution to the dispute between Kindos and Gibson fell apart last spring after Kindos refused to sign a settlement requiring, among other things, he pay Gibson $2,000 and post a sign out front alerting patrons his establishment accommodated customers with medical marijuana exemptions.

Kindos said he could lose his liquor licence if he agrees to allows his former patron to smoke or hold the controlled substance in or out front of his restaurant.

Gibson said he is being treated differently because he has a disability.

The dispute is venturing into uncharted legal waters because there hasn't been a case addressing where the 2,800 Canadians with medical marijuana exemptions are allowed to smoke.

How and where a licensed patient uses marijuana is not governed by federal regulations but permit holders are expected to use common sense, according to the federal government.

Smoking in public and potentially exposing others to the drug's effects is "unacceptable," according to Health Canada.

In submissions to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, lawyers for the province said creating an exception to the liquor laws to allow marijuana to be consumed where alcohol is served would leave staff and other patrons vulnerable to the risks and harm caused by contact with marijuana.

Moreover, the province argued the federal government is clear that medical marijuana is not to be smoked in public where the rights of others must also be considered.

In November, the Tribunal declined to order Gibson's case and that of Marko Ivancicevic, the third man to file a complaint alleging discrimination to be heard together.

Barbara Hall, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission said there is a duty to accommodate people with disabilities.

"This is about the need to balance between the legal and medical rights of one person to smoke marijuana legally because of health issues and the rights of others impacted by that," she said.

Amateur comedian Russell Barth said permit holders are not asking for special rights only the right to smoke marijuana where others use tobacco.

He said he filed his complaint against the Ontario government after a club where he was performing told him he could not smoke marijuana outside on the patio.

Barth said he wants the province to recognize his requirement to take his medication as needed - just as an asthmatic would use an inhaler.

"We feel nervous every time we go out that we can get hassled by police or some yuppie with their kid is going to get their bum in a knot about it," Barth said noting when he reached out for help to his city councillor he was told to grow up and stop wasting taxpayers dollars with a frivolous human rights complaint.

His case is set to go to mediation later this month.

<center><small>© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service</small></center>

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Discussing marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:36 pm

The Cord Weekly wrote:Discussing marijuana

The Cord Weekly
Linda Givetash Mar 11, 2009

<span class=postbold>Former leader of Marijuana Party of Canada speaks to students about resolving prohibition</span>

<table align=right class=posttable><tr><td class=postcell><img width=300 class=postimage src=bin\saint-maurice_marc-boris.jpg alt="Maric Boris Saint-Maurice"></td></tr></table>PRO-POT - Saint-Maurice feels that common misconceptions about marijuana give it a negative image.

Marc-Boris Saint-Maurice, national executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), conducted a talk titled “Resolving Marijuana Prohibition” last Wednesday at Wilfrid Laurier University.

The talk covered four fundamentals – economic development, health and medicine, social justice and policy implementation – for a national resolution for the legalization of marijuana.

Saint-Maurice has been holding such discussions across the country at universities and community centres to raise awareness of the issues surrounding prohibition and to engage in progressive discussion.

Having founded the Marijuana Party of Canada and acted as director for the Compassion Centre in Montreal, which dispenses medical marijuana, Saint-Maurice has a long history in dealing with government policy.

Considering economic development, Saint-Maurice addressed the issue of the cost of prohibition in policing and the judicial system as well as the potential tax revenue if prohibition is lifted.

He also debunked misconceptions that this will have negative effects on the amount of employment necessary for maintaining police systems. Saint-Maurice believes it will only help contribute allocating manpower to more important and pressing issues.

The importance of marijuana for medicinal purposes, aiding patients with diseases such as cancer, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, was stressed. Although medicinal marijuana is legal with the proper documentation from a medical practitioner, the ability to access it and even obtain the proper documentation is a long and complicated process that has negative impacts on those who desperately need it.

Surrounding social justice and policy, Saint-Maurice believes that “prohibition is a lack of control.” It allows for our government to ban it entirely, eliminating the need to establish controls and restrictions on the use of marijuana.

The ban does not, however, make the issue disappear. Rather, it criminalizes those who use it for recreational purposes and even for medical needs.

Saint-Maurice advocates that we “find issues that will strike a chord with those who don’t understand the medical aspect or the financial aspect ... and not so much on the product and its effect.”

Legalizing marijuana will not be a simple, one-step process. “We have to look at what we’re doing with alcohol and other drugs ... finding measures to control, to reduce access to youth [and] make it safer.”

Creating such policy is only possible once its legalization is agreed upon. Through NORML and these conferences held nation-wide, Saint-Maurice is creating a list of supporters that will be presented to government officials. He hopes it will create pressure to determine new laws.

Saint-Maurice hopes to return to WLU again with updates on the progress of his endeavours through NORML. Until then he reminds all supporters for the legalization of marijuana to join NORML and advocate their cause to government officials and other citizens.

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Grow-op case drags on through the courts

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:18 pm

The Terrace Standard wrote:Grow-op case drags on through the courts

By Margaret Speirs - Terrace Standard

Published: March 17, 2009 11:00 PM

THE CASE of an alleged grow-op on the Bench will have dragged on for nearly three years by the time its next court date arrives.

The case of Larry and Lynda Tallon, who were charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of marijuana after a police raid on their home in September 2007, returned to the court room here last week only to have the next court date scheduled for March 8, 2010 and only then to confirm yet another date for their actual trial.

Other cases, not necessarily drug-related ones, have been dismissed after it is determined that the time to reach a trial date was too long, according to section 11(b) of the charter of rights.

And where some illegal drug cases have taken several years to finish – a case involving a methamphetamine lab that resulted in a house fire here in 2004 finished its court run in 2007 after one of the three accused plead guilty – it’s not known yet whether any drug cases have been thrown out for lack of a swift and speedy trial for the defendants.

In the provincial court system – drug charges are considered to be federal cases and are tried by a federal prosecutor – there have been many cases in the last 15 years involving the argument that a person has been deprived of the right to a speedy trial and therefore is entitled to have the charges stayed, says Neil MacKenzie, an official with the provincial criminal justice branch.

“It can apply to any charges pretty much,” he said.

Defence counsel would make an application to the court, requesting the stay. The court will then look at the factors that caused the delay.

The court will look to see if there is prejudice against the defence such as whether potential defence witnesses aren’t available or if people’s memories may have faded over time, MacKenzie explained.

There can be any number of reasons court can consider that aren’t sufficient to order a stay of proceedings, he said.

It’s not unusual for a case to be stayed for the lack of a sufficient time to go through the court system; however, the issue doesn’t seem to be raised as frequently as a few years ago, which may reflect cases being dealt with more quickly, MacKenzie said.

In the Tallon case, police raided the home a second time in March 2008 as they believed that the grow-op was still producing illegal drugs. They instead found that the Tallons had received a federal medical marijuana licence, giving Larry permission to grow a certain amount for an undisclosed medical condition. It also cleared him to have a certain amount on hand and allowed him to have a quantity in a vehicle if he was travelling.

After determining the licence to be legal, the police left.

No charges have been laid and local federal prosecutors haven’t commented on whether charges could still be laid in the future for the second raid.

Federal crown counsel spokesperson Dan Brian said federal narcotics prosecutors will not comment or speculate on what hasn’t happened yet.

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Med marijuana user draws battle lines

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:32 am

The Strand wrote:Med marijuana user draws battle lines

The Strand
By Joe Howell, Editor-in-Chief
Issue date: 3/26/09 Section: News

<span class=postbigbold>One man's illicit drug is another man's medicine</span>

Marco Renda cooks his pot, he vapourizes it, and when he does not have access to electricity, he rolls it. But Renda is not a criminal.

He suffers from many ailments, including hepatitis C, severe arthritis, and IBS, and so Health Canada has given him a medical marijuana exemption for 26 grams a day.

They've also taken away over 7,000 packs of marijuana seeds he planned to sell to people like himself.

Coming back from Europe, Renda declared the seeds at Pearson International Airport, only to have them confiscated by Customs. Health Canada still won't allow their release, but Renda is prepared for a fight.

He has started work on a constitutional challenge, something to which he is no stranger. In 2003, he was one of the plaintiffs in a case that forced the federal government to start growing medical marijuana.

The federal government must now provide the roughly 2,000 exemptees in Canada with marijuana, explains Renda.

Because the federal government only offers one strain, however, which many find ineffective, very few of the exemptees are actually taking the feds up on it.

About 98 to 99 percent opt for securing their own supply rather than purchasing the "hybridization of MS-17/338 female plants and the MS-17/596 male plant" offered by the government.

That's why Renda co-founded the Medical Marijuana Seeds Wholesaler, which offers far more exotic-sounding varieties like "Nirvana Special" and "Romulan Island Sweet Skunk."

It's a curious twist, considering that Renda was one of the seven medical marijuana users that launched the Hitzig v. Canada case that got the federal government growing weed in Flin Flon, Manitoba in the first place.

Renda is optimistic about his latest challenge. "I think the judges are on our side," he said.

His company seems legal - the government has given it a bank identification number and a GST number so he can import seeds from Amsterdam.

But, constitutional challenges aren't cheap.

"We're looking at major legal fees," said Renda. He explains that they don't have the money, "but the patients are running out of patience."

He finds that the right marijuana helps with his nausea, which is clear from his appetite. During a phone interview, he's worried that the sushi being delivered isn't enough.

Unfortunately for Renda, who is also the publisher and editor-in-chief of Treating Yourself, a journal of alternative medicine, he has not yet found a strain of marijuana that helps with his pain.

He believes it may be out there, which is why his magazine is doing "smoke reports" on the over 1,600 varieties available.

"We're trying to educate one another," said Renda. "The only one who knows and can talk about it is the patient."

<span class=postbold>Another med-pot struggle</span>

Renda's seed battle is not the only fight over med-pot currently taking place in Ontario. Ted Kindos, the owner of a restaurant and bar in Burlington, was embroiled in a human rights complaint for asking a medical exemptee not to smoke marijuana outside his establishment.

The exemptee claims he was discriminated against, but Kindos argued that provincial liquor laws do not permit for the consumption of controlled substances in licensed bars.

Government Services Minister Ted McMeekin recently wrote a letter to federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, seeking clarity in the situation.

"I am writing to ask for your assistance in clarifying Health Canada's policy on the possession and consumption of medical marijuana and the appropriate circumstances where the product can be used," wrote McMeekin.

Greg Dennis, spokesperson for the Ministry of Government Services, said that "it was clear that a business owner like Ted Kindos was caught between a regulatory rock and a hard place."

"When Health Canada came up with [the rules surrounding medical marijuana] they just weren't clear on where people could and couldn't smoke," said Dennis.

"We just need to figure this out, and we will."

-Joe Howell
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Activist for medical marijuana gives up crusade

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 04, 2009 5:50 pm

The Canadian Press wrote:Activist for medical marijuana gives up crusade

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 | 8:15 PM ET
The Canadian Press

<table class=posttable align=right><tr><td class=postcell><img class="postimg" src="bin/krieger_grant-2000.jpg" alt="Grant Krieger, speaking to reporters outside a Calgary courthouse in 2000, signed a legal document Tuesday pledging to stop growing or distributing marijuana. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)"></tr></td></table>A longtime advocate for the use of medical marijuana has agreed to give up a fight that has seen him battle the justice system as far as the Supreme Court of Canada.

Grant Krieger, 54, who has for years vocally defended his right to provide marijuana to the sick, signed a legal document Tuesday pledging to stop growing or distributing it.

"I've hit the end of all my ropes, and I'm just tired of it now," he said in Calgary.

Krieger uses marijuana himself to treat symptoms of progressive multiple sclerosis. At one time, he also supplied more than 400 sick people with the drug through a compassion club.

As a result of Krieger's promise, Alberta's Court of Appeal has swapped a four-month jail sentence for 18 months of probation in a 2007 trafficking conviction.

Krieger was at first given jail time because he "stated he did not think he had done anything wrong and had no intention of closing his club (and) and confirmed that he would not desist from his campaign to distribute marijuana," the appeal decision reads.

That stand was the continuation of a campaign that saw him defiant in court case after court case from his first trafficking conviction more than a decade ago.

He took one case all the way to the Supreme Court, where he was granted a new trial after the court ruled the trial judge had erred by directing the jury to find him guilty.

Krieger admitted Tuesday that he could no longer keep up the fight.

"It's taken 13 years out of my life, destroyed my family, removed my driver's licence," he said. "It's cost me a phenomenal amount of money. I'm in hock up to my eyeballs."

<span class=postbigbold>Says he'll turn to black market</span>

Krieger maintains the federal government's medicinal marijuana program is a joke. He refuses to use their marijuana himself, saying it's grown in a dirty mine shaft and irradiated.

It's next to impossible for most sick people to even have the option, he said, as doctors are extremely reluctant to sign off on the therapy. And although he technically has the federal government's permission to use marijuana legally as a treatment, he said has been backed into a corner.

He said he'll now buy the drug — which enables him to continue to walk and function despite his debilitating disease — "on the black market, like everybody else."

Krieger's cause is often confused with those who wish to legalize marijuana altogether, said his lawyer, John Hooker.

His client, however, was only interested in helping people who were legitimately ill and had safeguards in place to make sure the marijuana was not used recreationally, he said.

The appeal court ruled Krieger "made no financial gain, so was not motivated by profit but by concerns for others' suffering," but it said that's not enough of a justification.

Krieger is still facing sentencing in one outstanding trafficking case in Winnipeg.

"I want to get on with the rest of my life, no matter how long it might be."

Last edited by palmspringsbum on Sun Apr 05, 2009 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Calgary marijuana activist's sentence overturned

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 04, 2009 8:09 pm

The Calgary Herald wrote:Calgary marijuana activist's sentence overturned after he agrees to stop providing drug

By Daryl Slade, Calgary Herald
March 31, 2009

Grant Krieger says his medical marijuana activist days are over after 13 years of legal wrangling.

The Alberta Court of Appeal believes him, as it overturned the 54-year-old Calgary man’s four-month jail sentence, suspended his sentence and placed him on probation for 18 months for two counts of trafficking the drug.

“I’m tired of being a police target,” Krieger, who uses the drug to alleviate symptoms of multiple sclerosis, said after the appellate court’s ruling was released Tuesday.

“I can still use marijuana, but police always take it away from me. I’ve got a court exemption to cultivate it, but it’s no good because the insurance companies stepped in and won’t let me grow it. I have to go to the black market now, and the last quarter-pound cost me $800.”

Krieger ackowledged he started a compassion club for people suffering from illness, supplying the drug to many of the 430 members.

He was previously convicted of possession for the purpose of trafficking in October 1998 and January 1999. It was based on that record that provincial court Judge William Pepler imposed a jail sentence on Krieger two years ago.

“The sentence imposed was responsive and appropriate to the circumstances at that time,” said appellate justices Connie Hunt, Clifton O’Brien and Peter Martin.

“However, there has been significant change in circumstances since the appellant was sentenced,” said the justices, referring to Krieger’s decision to no longer distribute marijuana to others.

Krieger, who was convicted after police intercepted two packages of pot he mailed to sick people in Manitoba in 2003 and 2004, still faces similar charges in Winnipeg.

He was convicted by a jury last year and is scheduled to be sentenced April 8, but he doesn’t believe it will go ahead that day because a pre-sentence report is not completed.

When those legal commitments are done, he says he is done with the law.

“I don’t go out of the house much anymore. I’ve turned into a hermit,” he said. “Plus, I can’t afford to fight it anymore. I’m in hock up to my eyeballs.”

At Krieger’s 2006 trial, his lawyer argued it was too difficult for some ill people to obtain an exemption to use the drug under the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, and that’s why he helped them.

He says those people now face the same dilemma as him, of having to buy their pot on the black market.

Krieger says they, in most cases, can’t get exemptions as doctors are reluctant to sign off on the treatment due to insurance concerns.

He says he was also evicted from a house for growing pot and his daughter, with whom he now lives, won’t let him do it either, because she’ll lose her insurance.

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Ex-pot crusader tired, resigned

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:36 am

The Calgary Herald wrote:Ex-pot crusader tired, resigned

<span class=postbigbold>'Flawed' system leaves Krieger a hermit with dogs</span>


As expected of someone who indulges in the medicinal use of marijuana, Grant Krieger is a gentle soul. His dogs, not so much.

Upon arrival at Krieger's house, visitors are greeted by a pack of six barking hounds. One, a half-wolf named Shifty, stays in the background, swaying back and forth. Before long, the dogs settle. They surround the visitor, seeking pats on the head, shakes of outstretched paws and an irresistible scratch behind the ear. All, that is, but the wary Shifty, who dares to enter the room only after nearly an hour and remains aloof.

The home has a lived-in, bachelor look: the TV is on, there's an ironing board in the living room, DVDs are lined up on the floor, tattered throws cover furniture in a futile effort to protect them against fur. On the kitchen table is the beginning of a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of a snow leopard. A treadmill sits in the middle of another room, where a rowing machine is propped against a wall.

Krieger offers herbal tea. We sit in the room with the TV blaring and begin to talk of his 13-year legal struggle as a medicinal marijuana advocate, which the multiple sclerosis sufferer ended this week by signing a legal document pledging to not engage in any cultivation or distribution.

The windows are covered to block natural light, the entrance-way dark. The room has the mood and feel of a comfortable cave.

"I've become a hermit," says the gaunt 54-year-old. "I don't even like to leave the house anymore be-cause I don't like police officers."

Krieger's crusade has cost him a marriage, the estrangement of family, his driving privileges and debt. It is the sad and tragic story of an individual fighting a system stacked against him, a system that never tolerated his in-your-face defiance of what he felt were unjust laws.

One could argue that he became his own worst enemy. If Krieger had simply stuck quietly to his personal use of medicinal marijuana, as he was legally allowed to do, he might have escaped the torment of enforcement officials and a judiciary that treated him like a pusher. Instead, Krieger listened to the call of his kind heart.

His sin, in the minds of the authorities, was running a compassion club to assist other sick people by supplying them with pot--not to smoke, but to make into a mild cannabis butter to be ingested, and without using what he calls the toxic, low-grade government skunkweed grown for medicinal use in an abandoned Manitoba mine.

He was twice convicted and twice acquitted for trafficking. One acquittal was ordered by no less than the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled in 2006 that an Alberta judge erred in telling a jury it had no choice but to find Krieger guilty. That astonishing Alberta conviction was overturned 7-0 by the higher court.

In 2007, Krieger was again convicted of trafficking and sentenced to four months. The judge ruled that Krieger should be provided medicinal marijuana while in jail, but Corrections Canada refused to allow it, resulting in Krieger's agreement this week to disavow any further cultivation or distribution in exchange for 18 months probation.

"It's Alberta. What more can I say?" he says, not bitterly, but with a note of exasperation.

Multiple sclerosis first took hold of Krieger when he was 24. He was working as a food sales representative when his vision became blurred, an early indicator of MS. As the condition progressed, his body began pulsing with what MS sufferers describe as electrical jolts that occur when the body's own immune system attacks and damages the insulating myelin sheath that protects nerve fibres. His hands became so stiff he used a rubber stamp for his signature.

"My kids loved me," he says, referring to his three children's ability to sneak the stamp out of a drawer and ink dad's signature on their report cards.

In 1996, Krieger went to the European pot mecca of Amsterdam and got a doctor's prescription to use marijuana to ease his affliction. He openly attempted to bring some pot back to Canada from Amsterdam in an effort to test Canada's medicinal marijuana laws. He was arrested by military police in the Netherlands and put on the plane without his pot, sparing him a potential life sentence under Canadian law for importing drugs. When he landed at Pearson Airport in Toronto, he was in a wheelchair and wincing in pain.

Soon, police in Saskatchewan, where he lived at the time, were raiding his home. His wife, Marie, was charged with possession. His daughter, a law student, moved out, fearing she, too, could get charged. When Canadian Olympic snowboarder Ross Rebagliati was awarded a gold medal in 1998 despite his pot use, Krieger was miffed at the double standard.

"They're busting up families-- but Ross got his medal," he said.

Thus began Krieger's unrelenting challenge of Canada's intransigent attitude to medical marijuana--not changed until 2001--which he credited with alleviating his need for a wheelchair or even crutches.

He moved to Calgary and began passing out pot on the doorstep of the courthouse, resulting in his first trafficking charge.

Given a constitutional exemption to possess marijuana for personal use for one year, Krieger was driven to help others. He set up the Universal Compassion Club, which attracted the attention of police, and thieves. In 1999, someone broke into his Calgary house and stole his entire stash. Shortly thereafter, Krieger was arrested and charged with breach of probation for possessing a half-smoked joint.

On and on it went, with arrests, probation, re-arrests, trials and appeals that went to the highest court in the land. His auto insurance was revoked out of concern his medicinal marijuana use would result in him driving under the influence.

"They've taken everything away from me. It's cost me everything, these drugs laws, which are against our charter of rights. Financially, it's cost me tons. I'm in hock up to my eyeballs. It cost me a whole pile of friends. The people who came to help me, in reality, they helped themselves. It's cost me family."

Marie, with whom he had writ-ten a book, Cooking for Life: Recipes with Cannabis Butter, could take it no more and left.

"I never talked to her for three years, but we've just started talking in the last couple of years," says Krieger. "I never talked to my daughter for three years."

Unable to rent a house due to his notoriety, he has been taken in by two of his children and rotates between their residences on the stipulation that he not grow any pot, which would negate their insurance.

"The kids don't want any more harassment from police. They've had enough. And to tell you the truth, I've had enough. I used to trust in the system, but not anymore. They're all flawed, down to the insurance companies, down to the doctors, the politicians, even the judicial system is flawed."

He's turned to the black market, recently paying $800 for an ounce.

For Grant Krieger, the system he fought for so long has won. He spends his days inside doing jigsaw puzzles and trying to lead a quiet life. He shuffles, but without the aid of medical devices. With his arrests, his chances of travelling to the United States are zero. He'll never feel the warmth of the Arizona sun on his aching body.

"I listen to music, put DVDs in. I do my jigsaw puzzles,"he says. "And I pick up dog s--t. Lots of dog s--t."

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Justice gone to pot

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:46 am

The Calgary Herald wrote:Justice gone to pot


How very sad it is to see Grant Krieger, whose sole motivation was compassion for suffering people, give up the fight. And how utterly appalling that it was the justice system that mercilessly hounded Krieger into quitting.

Tired of fighting and deeply in debt, the medical marijuana activist formally agreed last week never to grow or distribute marijuana again. The agreement came after 13 years of court battles on trafficking charges, one of which landed in the Supreme Court, which found that a lower court judge had wrongly instructed a jury to find Krieger guilty and thus ordered a retrial.

Krieger, 54, wasn't interested in decriminalizing marijuana for recreational use. His battle was a purely humanitarian one -- he just wanted to see people who were struggling, like himself, with multiple sclerosis, or cancer, epilepsy and other diseases, have the kind of relief from their symptoms that he had. Marijuana literally saved his life after he hit rock bottom and attempted suicide by overdosing on Demerol and sleeping pills years ago. "I couldn't breathe. I couldn't swallow and I shook so bad. I had to wear a damn diaper. So I took those pills and I really didn't want to wake up. When I woke up in the hospital, I thought, 'I'm alive and I don't want to be,' " he told the Herald in 1998. When he began taking marijuana, he no longer needed a cane, crutches or a wheelchair.

Although the federal government grows marijuana for medical users, Krieger argues that the quality is no good.The contract to grow the marijuana is held by Prairie Plant Systems Inc., a privately owned plant biotechnology firm, and the plants are grown in a section of underground mine near Flin Flon, Man. Krieger also says accessing the marijuana is very difficult because doctors are averse to prescribing it as a treatment. According to Health Canada, people can apply to use the government's supply, to grow their own or have someone else grow it for them.

Krieger should not have had to fight the justice system and his disease. Multiple sclerosis is a full-time battle in itself. The justice system Can claim a victory, but it is a terribly hollow one. Nothing is going to stop sick people from obtaining marijuana if it eases their symptoms, and so they --along with Krieger--will now turn to criminal drug traffickers to get what they need. How, then, has justice been served? Krieger's friend and fellow MS sufferer Jordan York calls Krieger a hero. Indeed. No other word better describes this true humanitarian.

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Iqaluit rejects medical marijuana store proposal

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Apr 12, 2009 8:55 am

CBCNews wrote:
Iqaluit rejects medical marijuana store proposal

Last Updated: Thursday, April 9, 2009 | 9:42 AM CT CBC News

The City of Iqaluit has refused to issue a business licence to medical marijuana entrepreneur Ed Devries, saying the proposal is beyond its jurisdiction.

"Territorial and federal legislation overrides municipal legislation in this case," said John Hussey, the city's chief administrative officer.

"Based on the fact that it is a controlled substance, we are not comfortable issuing a licence at this time to Mr. Devries and the nature of his business."

Devries wants to open a storefront that would dispense several varieties of high- quality marijuana to people who need it for medical reasons and provide a place to smoke it.

Customers would need to get a doctor to confirm their illness and then swear an oath that they use the marijuana to treat symptoms.

Devries said he understands and accepts the city's decision, but is determined to go forward with his project.

The next step is to get an exemption from the territorial government, he said. He hopes to have a proposal prepared for politicians before the next legislative sitting.

Health Canada is responsible for medical marijuana and gets the final say.

Hussey said even if Devries gets approval from the territorial and federal governments, the city will need to gets its own legal opinion before granting a licence.

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Feds fight back in pot restaurant case

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:05 am

The National Post wrote:Feds fight back in pot restaurant case

Jordana Huber, Canwest News Service | 1 Nov 09

TORONTO - Federal government lawyers will ask a judge Monday to throw out the case of an Ontario restaurant owner who wants one of his former patrons stripped of his right to smoke medical marijuana.

This is the latest manoeuvre in the legal battle between Ted Kindos, owner of Gator Ted's Tap and Grill in Burlington, Ont., and former customer Steve Gibson.

The restaurant owner is facing a human rights complaint for asking Mr. Gibson not to light up outside his business.

So Mr. Kindos is looking for a declaration from the Federal Court that people with a permit to smoke medicinal marijuana cannot do so in a public place or any licensed establishment.

He also wants the court to order Health Canada not to renew the permit of his former patron, arguing Gibson has not been in compliance with its terms of use.

Mr. Gibson contends in his human rights complaint that he's being discriminated against because he has a disability. Mr. Kindos argues he could lose his liquor licence if he allows Mr. Gibson to smoke or hold the controlled substance in or out front of his restaurant.

The case is one of three dealing with medical marijuana working its way through the human rights complaints process in Ontario.

In court documents, federal government lawyers said they are seeking to dismiss the case, arguing there is no dispute that requires adjudication because Health Canada does not purport to authorize permit holders to smoke marijuana in violation of any applicable law or in an establishment subject to Ontario's liquor licensing laws.

The regulations are "completely silent" in terms of where and when Mr. Gibson is authorized to use marijuana for medical reasons and there is no evidence he disregarded the terms of his permit in any way, according to the documents.

In addition, they argue Mr. Kindos lacks the standing to challenge Mr. Gibson's permit renewal and that the regulations do not authorize Health Canada to refuse renewal of a permit on the basis an applicant has "flagrantly disregarded its terms."

But Mr. Kindos's lawyer, Gary Graham, said in court documents the medical marijuana regulations do allow Health Canada to refuse to renew a permit if any information, statement or other item in the renewal application is false or misleading.

He said compliance with the regulations also includes following an information document issued to permit holders advising that controlled substances should not be consumed in public places or in contravention of other applicable federal or provincial laws.

"Gibson clearly was not in compliance," with the terms of his permit because he was using marijuana in the restaurant contrary to provincial law that prohibits controlled substances where alcohol is served, according to Mr. Graham's court submissions.

By filling out an application for renewal while violating the terms of the information document, Mr. Gibson was "effectively making a statement which was false or misleading," Mr. Graham wrote.
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