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Marijuana Cultivation Law Suspended

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Second province tells Ottawa to change pot law

An Alberta judge has struck down a portion of federal law that
prohibits the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes, saying
it's unconstitutional.

Justice Darlene Acton struck down Section 7 (1) of the Controlled Drugs
and Substances Act Monday, but stayed the decision for a year.

That time, she said, would allow the federal government ample
opportunity to correct the breach of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
she ruled has been against marijuana crusader Grant Wayne Krieger.

Acton, as part of the decision, also stayed cultivation charges against
Krieger, 46, who has multiple sclerosis, and granted him an exemption
under Section 56 of the act so he can now legally grow the illicit drug
for his own personal use.

The judge said exemptions permit citizens who require cannabis
marijuana for health reasons to possess the drug, yet what ``triggers
the absurdity'' is that there is no legal source for them and they are
forced to grow it or purchase it illegally off the street.

This is the second blow to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act this

Last summer, the Ontario Court of Appeal declared the section of the
law dealing with possession 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.

In her decision Monday, Acton noted that as of Oct. 2, Health Minister
Allan Rock has granted 72 exemptions nationally. He

also turned down one person and intended to refuse five other
applications. Krieger has not applied.

``It would be inhumane to not grant Mr. Krieger an exemption to grow
marijuana for his own medical use,'' the judge told court in reading
her decision.

``He has proven to court he needs it and, although he hasn't tried
every available option, no other conventional drugs have been
successful for him.''

However, the judge did not go quite as far as Krieger and his lawyer
had hoped.

She dismissed a second application that would have permitted Krieger to
sell the marijuana he grows to others who also require it for medical
reasons but may not have a Health Canada exemption.

The judge said she did not find such a limit unjustified and added
society would not be protected adequately if anyone could distribute
otherwise illegal drugs to whomever they chose.

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

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.

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.

Krieger's defence lawyer, Adriano Iovinelli, said Acton has made it
``very clear'' that if the government doesn't react she'll strike down
the section of the act and allow cultivation in Alberta. ``I'd be very
surprised if the government doesn't react,'' Iovinelli said. ``She
anticipates she'll get a reaction.''

Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Website: Edmonton Journal
Email: letters@thejournal.southam.ca
Forum: http://forums.canada.com/~edmonton
Copyright: 2000 The Edmonton Journal
Pubdate: Tue, 12 Dec 2000
Page: News A1 / Front