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Newshawk: Sledhead
Pubdate: Mon, 17 Jul 2000
Source: Gazette, The (CO)
Copyright: 2000 The Gazette
Contact: gtop@gazette.com
Address: Tell it to The Gazette, P.O.Box 1779, Colorado Springs CO 80901
Fax: (719) 636-0202

Author: Associated Press


DENVER - Ror Poliac hopes he is the last man prosecuted in Colorado for growing marijuana
for use as a pain reliever.

The 43-year-old Poliac, who has multiple sclerosis, says he smokes a little marijuana at night,
to help him sleep. "I have spasticity in my legs. There are times when I can't even bend my
legs, and it's hard to get into bed," he said.

That illegal habit could cost him two to six years in jail, but Poliac doesn't think that's going to
happen. He says he just can't imagine a jury looking at him, in his wheelchair, with his
colostomy bag, and deciding he should be in jail.

This November, Colorado voters will vote on whether to legalize marijuana for medicinal

Proponents say the change makes sense - marijuana is less dangerous and less addictive than
other drugs, like morphine, that doctors prescribe legally.

Opponents say there is a big difference - people like Poliac still couldn't get a prescription,
precisely filled out by a pharmacist. Instead, they'd still have to grow their own or buy off the
street uncertain doses of an unproven, potentially dangerous drug.

California passed a similar measure in 1996, which has resulted in frequent clashes as federal
authorities insist it remains illegal.

In Poliac's case, the Arapahoe County district attorney's office offered to bump the charges
down to a misdemeanor - if Poliac agreed to stop using marijuana for the length of his

But Poliac said he can't do that. Besides, he and his attorney, Warren Edson, want a trial.
They want to make a statement about Colorado's marijuana laws. And until the trial was
delayed this month, they were hoping to make that statement in time to sway voters.

Proponents tried to get the medical marijuana measure passed in 1998, but then-Secretary of
State Vikki Buckley said they had not gathered the required 54,242 signatures.

As the legal wrangling dragged on, the question remained on the ballot, but the results were
not tallied.

Even without the outcome of Poliac's trial to digest, voters will hear plenty of messages this
fall, some factual, many just designed to tug at their heartstrings or play on their fears.

Like the battles over abortion or gay rights, the war over medical marijuana is often waged on
an emotional front.
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