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Activist Can Grow Own Medicinal Pot

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CALGARY - An Alberta judge yesterday criticized the "absurdity" of
federal government exemptions for medicinal use of marijuana because
there is no legal supply of cannabis for sick people who need it.

Justice Darlene Acton of Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench made the
comment in ruling that marijuana activist Grant Krieger, who suffers
from multiple sclerosis, can grow cannabis for his own use. She stayed
a charge against Mr. Krieger for growing and cultivating marijuana for
one year, by which time she hopes the federal government will have
sorted out the legal conundrum.

The exemptions announced in May, 1999, by Allan Rock, the Minister of
Health, allow people to apply to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
As of October, 72 such exemptions under the Controlled Drugs and
Substances Act have been granted. But because there is no legal way for
sick people to obtain marijuana, an exemption merely "triggers an
absurdity [in the law] that has not been addressed," Judge Acton said.
"To obtain it, they must participate in an illegal act," she said.

"I am troubled that the Government of Canada has not made any legal
sources available to the Canadian public," she added.

Adriano Iovinelli, Mr. Krieger's lawyer, argued that his client's right
to grow marijuana is guaranteed under a section of the Canadian Charter
of Rights and Freedoms that provides for liberty and security. Mr.
Krieger said he needed to grow his own pot, which alleviates his
symptoms, because he did not wish to deal with criminals.

The judge agreed, but denied an application that would have allowed Mr.
Krieger to distribute his marijuana to other sick people.

He was charged in August, 1999, with possession and trafficking after
police seized about 30 marijuana plants at Mr. Krieger's home.

Mr. Krieger said he was intending to provide his marijuana to members
of the Universal Compassion Club, which he founded to ensure sick
people have a reliable source of marijuana from a reputable supplier.
Mr. Krieger has elected trial by jury on the trafficking charge; a
trial date will be set on Jan. 10.

Two Ontario courts have made rulings similar to yesterday's decision by
Judge Acton.

"It's another message to the Government of Canada that they have to
address this issue more thoroughly," said Mr. Iovinelli. It [the
government's policy] more or less says 'We'll give exemptions to
individuals but we're not going to supply them with marijuana.' What
good, then, is an exemption?"

Mr. Krieger, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 20 years ago,
called yesterday's decision a victory. "It means that I can grow my own
medicine and the police can't harass me any more. I need it to walk."

He said he was disappointed that the judge did not allow him the right
to distribute pot to other sick people. "I guess they have to go down
to the train station by the public library."

The 46-year-old Calgary pot crusader, has been using marijuana
medicinally for about five years. He has made more than 30 court
appearances in his ongoing campaign to reform marijuana laws.

Mr. Krieger was arrested in Amsterdam in 1996 while boarding a flight
for Canada with one kilogram of pot. Dutch authorities refused to
charge him.

In 1998, he was given a $550 fine after he lit up a marijuana cigarette
on the steps of a Calgary courthouse.

Mr. Krieger was also given an 18-month suspended sentence this year for
a marijuana trafficking conviction in Regina. He pleaded guilty to
deliberately defying probation orders resulting from that sentence and
was fined $825.

Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2000 Southam Inc.
Contact: letters@nationalpost.com
Website: National Post
Pubdate: Tue, 12 Dec 2000
Author: Robert Remington