Judge Suspends Pot Cultivation Law

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CALGARY (CP) -- A law that prohibits the cultivation of marijuana is
unconstitutional because it doesn't allow for medical use of the drug,
an Alberta judge ruled Monday.

Justice Darlene Acton threw out a charge of cultivating marijuana
against Grant Krieger, who uses pot to offset the effects of multiple
sclerosis.

"It's a great decision for Grant," said defence lawyer Adriano
Iovinelli.

"It's another message to the government of Canada that they have to
address this issue more thoroughly and Section 56 exemption just
doesn't cut it."

Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act allows the federal
health minister to exempt Canadians from being charged with growing and
possessing marijuana for medical use or research.

But the problem with the exemption is that there isn't a legal
marijuana supply, a fact that "triggers the absurdity," Acton told
court.

"The irony is that there is no source in Canada for marijuana at this
time," she said in her ruling.

Acton gave Parliament 12 months to rewrite the drug legislation so that
sick patients can get medicinal cannabis.

But Iovenelli doubts the government will take a year to rewrite the
law, because if it doesn't Acton's ruling means it would then be legal
to grow marijuana in Alberta.

"I'd be very surprised if the government doesn't react to this," he
said.

Krieger, 46, was charged with trafficking and cultivating marijuana. He
argued the charges should be tossed on the grounds that growing and
distributing pot for medicinal use is guaranteed under the charter
section that provides for liberty and security.

He maintains smoking and eating marijuana helps control his symptoms of
multiple sclerosis, a progressive, chronic disease of the nervous
system that causes tremors, paralysis and speech defects.

Acton did not dismiss trafficking charges against Krieger. He will be
arraigned on those next month.

Krieger says he doesn't profit from selling marijuana to sick and dying
people. His customers, members of his Universal Compassion Club, are
required to have letters from their doctors outlining their illnesses.

He has been to court more than 30 times in his battle to legally grow,
smoke, eat, and supply marijuana for medicinal purposes.

In his last court appearance, Krieger was fined $350 after pleading
guilty to two charges of violating court orders. He had been ordered to
report to a probation officer monthly as part of an 18-month suspended
sentence imposed in Regina earlier this year for trafficking.

In 1996, Krieger drew international attention when he was arrested in
Amsterdam for trying to transport a kilogram of marijuana back to
Canada.

He was jailed for two weeks in August 1999 when he refused to stop
growing and supplying marijuana to ill people. He was fined twice for
possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Last summer, the Ontario Court of Appeal declared Canada's cannabis law
to be unconstitutional and gave Terry Parker the right to ingest
marijuana to fight his severe epilepsy.

The Toronto man claimed pot eliminated up to 80 weekly seizures.

The appeal court said federal law fails to recognize that pot can be
used for medicinal purposes by those suffering from chronic illnesses.

The court gave Parliament one year to rewrite the drug legislation so
that sick patients can get medicinal cannabis. Otherwise, there will no
longer be any law prohibiting marijuana possession in Ontario, the
judges said.

Health Minister Allan Rock has exempted more than 70 ill Canadians from
being charged with possessing and growing pot under section 56 of the
federal Controlled Drugs and Substance Act. Five applicants for
exemption have been rejected.

Krieger's son Grant Jr. ran in last month's federal election for the
Marijuana party in Calgary Northeast. The 20-year-old Krieger garnered
1,223 votes, just behind the NDP candidate's 1,444 votes.



By CAROL HARRINGTON-- The Canadian Press

Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 19:14:11 -0800
From: "D. Paul Stanford" <stanford@crrh.org>
To: restore@crrh.org
Subject: Canada: Judge suspends pot cultivation law