Grant Krieger technically committed a criminal act yesterday right in
front of me.

I was not offended nor did I feel compelled to phone the police. On
the contrary, I feel what he did was necessary.

Krieger, Calgary's cannabis crusader, sold some marijuana to a
brain-injured woman who lives with excruciating pain unless she smokes
the plant.

Unlike most drug dealers, Krieger did not make a profit.

In fact, he actually lost money in his sale of seven grams of
marijuana to Rae Schweitzer, 40. What's more, he drove across town to
deliver the drugs to her Fairmont Dr. S.E. apartment.

The 46-year-old father of three grown children doesn't drive a flashy
car, wear a Rolex watch or carry a solid gold lighter -- like many
drug traffickers.

Instead, he scoots about town in a rusty, five-speed 1985 Honda
Accord, has to ask me repeatedly for the time and uses a Bic lighter
to light up the marijuana cigarettes -- or joints -- that make it
possible for him to do more than lie down or sit in a wheelchair.

"I have a criminal record but I am not a criminal," says Krieger,
from Schweitzer's main floor apartment.

"What I am doing is improving lives -- including mine -- and saving
the taxpayers millions of dollars in medical costs."

Krieger, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, was supposed to appear
in provincial court yesterday to apply to have 100 grams of marijuana
he grew returned to him, after police removed it from him upon
entering prison.

That was delayed and is expected to proceed on Monday.
On Dec. 11, Krieger won a landmark Court of Queen's Bench ruling
allowing him to grow and cultivate marijuana. The province is
appealing the decision.

Krieger says the eight days he spent in jail in January for an unpaid
fine were hellish. Without his marijuana, he was in terrible pain and
ended up needing to use a wheelchair, in facilities that were not
wheelchair accessible.

"Because of marijuana, I no longer walk with a cane. I'm no longer
confined to a wheelchair. I'm free," he says.

"In jail I saw grey bars in front of me temporarily but that's
nothing. My body was a much more hellish prison before I found the
right medicine."

Krieger just shakes his head when he hears that some Calgarians say
he should use prescription drugs -- instead of an illegal substance.
"I always taught my kids to not smoke, drink or do drugs. And when I
was diagnosed with MS I followed doctors' orders and took prescribed
medications and I was in terrible pain."

In fact, it got so bad, that in December 1994, he drained the bottles
of pain killing medications his doctors legally prescribed to him and
attempted suicide.

"I couldn't walk, I was trapped in my body, I was in pain all the
time, there was just no quality of life."

When he got out of hospital, another ill friend suggested he try
marijuana and he says he was immediately amazed by the relief it gave
him. He soon was able to walk again, he could see better, his hands
stopped shaking and the pain subsided.

Schweitzer nods in agreement. On May 12, 1989, two months after being
struck by a car on a city crosswalk, Schweitzer suffered a brain
hemorrhage and underwent surgery to relieve the blood pressure on her
brain.

When she regained consciousness, she had lost her ability to speak,
read and write. A fist-sized indentation and scar on her forehead are
graphic testimony of her ordeal.

The former paralegal says without marijuana, the pain in her brain is
so harsh she is unable to see.

"Before I started smoking pot I had to get two shots of pain killers
from my doctor every day and I was taking so many Tylenol 3s (with
codeine) I actually overdosed one day.

"Now I refuse to use prescription drugs. This is much healthier,"
says Schweitzer, puffing on a joint.

"I just hate living outside of the law, but I don't really feel that
I have a choice."

"Without this plant," adds Krieger, "I'd be in a nursing home in a
wheelchair costing society a lot of money. Or, I'd be dead."
Grant Krieger is no criminal. The system is


Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2000 The Calgary Sun
Contact: callet@sunpub.com
Website: http://www.canoe.ca/OttawaSun/home.html
Pubdate: February 10, 2001
Author: Licia Corbella