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Pot crusader spared time

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Compassion for the ill got Grant Krieger in legal hot water.

Last night a Calgary judge handed him a dose of his own medicine, sparing
the medicinal marijuana crusader jail despite a court-ordered jury
conviction for trafficking pot.

A bizarre day which included two jurors asking to leave the case because
they couldn't bring themselves to convict Krieger ended with the city
resident being found guilty.

But Justice Paul Chrumka, who hours earlier had directed jurors to convict
Krieger, said sending the frail, multiple sclerosis sufferer to jail would
be unjust.

"It would be extremely harsh in his physical condition to impose a term of
imprisonment of some length," the Court of Queen's Bench judge said.

Chrumka sentenced Krieger to a nominal one-day sentence and ordered no
warrant of committal be executed, meaning he spent no time in custody.

Krieger, 49, had been charged in 1999 with possession of marijuana for the
purpose of trafficking.

He testified the drugs were grown and distributed as part of his Compassion
Club, a group devoted to supplying the narcotic to those who needed it for
medical use.

But Chrumka ruled the only defence Krieger could raise to the charges --
that of necessity -- wasn't available to him in law.

As a result the judge told jurors they had no other choice but to select a
foreman and immediately find Krieger guilty as charged.

Outside court Krieger said the lengthy delay in reaching a verdict indicated
how reluctant jurors were to convict him for trying to help out those in

"It still took them how many hours to bring back a guilty verdict --
nine-and-a-half hours when they were instructed to bring back one right
away," he said.

Defence counsel Adriano Iovinelli said he will look into an appeal.

"There's no doubt that this whole trial has been unique," he said.

Pubdate: Thursday, December 4, 2003
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Contact: cal-letters@calgarysun.com
Website: Under Construction fyicalgary.com
Author: Kevin Martin