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Death Sentence for Growing Pot

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In Malaysia? Singapore? No, right here in Nova Scotia.

There was some media attention given my case during the fall of 2002 when I=
sentenced to six years federal incarceration for growing and selling 4 =BD
kilograms of pot. Sensational as that was, it was not the story line.
The catch was that I had twice been awarded exemptions by Health Canada
to use cannabis to treat a very painful and debilitating medical
condition for which all other therapies had failed.

Prior to sentencing I petitioned the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for
relief pleading that Correctional Services Canada (CSC) would not
provide my required medicine. Like Pontius Pilate, Justice Hood washed
her hands of the matter and sent me off to my fate.

The federal government through Solicitor General Wayne Easter played a
political card and refused to allow Health Canada to provide me with my
medication. Easter was quoted in the media regarding my case as saying,
"If they're in prison, they're not there to smoke marijuana."

I became very ill from the untreated pain and lost over 50 pounds of
bodyweight. I was in constant pain, sick from it, unable to eat and
though constantly exhausted, unable to sleep for more than an hour or
two due to pain. My condition became so grave that I consulted with B.C.
attorney John Conroy Q.C. who commenced a Federal Court action to have
CSC provide me with Cannabis.

Immediately prior to being sentenced my family physician had become
concerned over blood tests that indicated high rheumatoid arthritis
counts and booked a specialist appointment for me. A CSC physician
concurred and booked me an appointment in Moncton as well.

As all of these medical and legal avenues were being pursued, CSC was
developing their court case. From what we have seen, their strategy was
to deny me any contact with outside medical professionals so the CSC
contracted physician of their choice could state in court, that as the
only physician to have seen me, he was of the opinion that I would not
suffer irreparable harm by not being provided with Cannabis.

I was officially denied permission to see my family physician of twelve
years. When she requested permission to see me she was not refused but
now close to a year later, CSC has still not provided her with the
necessary clearances. They cancelled three rheumatology specialist
appointments and an appointment made by one of their own doctors for me
to see an orthopedic surgeon.

By doing all of this they were able to move ahead with their legal plan
to have their GP contradict all of my medical history of reports and
affidavits from a number of health care professionals including many
physicians, specialists and therapists. The conclusion of the Judge at
the emergency hearing was then able to be:

"..It is my finding that the Applicant failed to convince this Court
that he will suffer irreparable harm if he is not granted access to

My condition worsened over the ensuing months to the point that I felt
further aggravation would kill me. As prisons are incubators for
infectious and deadly diseases I requested Hepatitis vaccinations. As
part of that protocol the prisoner is first tested. I came back as
Hepatitis C positive.

Aside from surgery in 1980 I had no suspected contact with this disease
other than day to day contact with infected people during my prison
experience. I had no symptoms or signs of this disease prior to being
incarcerated despite the extensive medical testing that I had been
subjected to over the years as a result of my disability. I have solid
medical opinion that I did not have this disease when sentenced to

The symptoms of Hep C are headache, joint pain, loss of appetite,
wasting, exhaustion and insomnia- all symptoms as well that I had
developed and complained of as a result of having had my pain medication
taken away. If CSC would have investigated my condition rather than
scoffed at it, I may not be in this position today.

The Hep C infection rate in the general population is 0.8%. In prison it
is estimated to be 50%. Any prison doctor who cannot see and suspect the
symptoms of Hep C should not have a medical license.

There is a treatment for the disease but it is brutal physically,
emotionally and financially. It is comparable to a straight 48 week
course of chemo-therapy, is effective in 48% of cases like mine and
costs $30,000.00. Unfortunately I cannot consider it because of my
rheumatoid arthritis. RA positive patients cannot attempt the therapy.

If CSC had allowed me to attend the specialist appointments that had
been booked for me over the past year I would not be dying now. Their
court position to keep therapeutic cannabis out of our prisons was more
important than the life of one prisoner.

When I was taken away from my family for growing pot I was a healthy,
loving father and husband. I will be returned to them a dying physical
and emotional cripple. Is medical marijuana prohibition that important
to our society?


Michael Patriquen