A local man whose been stonewalled in his bid to secure medical marijuana
is starting up a defense fund to mount a legal challenge.

Richard Babcock, 43, who suffers from AIDS and hepatitis C, opened the
account Tuesday at a local bank with seed money from Michele Kennedy, a
woman in Kamloops who had heard about Babcock's plight.

A former cocaine addict who contracted both conditions from intravenous
drug use, Babcock has applied for and received his section 56 exemption
from the Office of Cannabis Medical Access, the division of Health Canada
responsible for regulating its use.

However, the federal government flip-flopped this fall on an earlier
decision to provide medical marijuana grown by a private contractor in
Manitoba, leaving hundreds of people with their exemption in the position
of having a legal prescription for the drug but no legal source.

Babcock lives on a disability allowance from the Ministry of Human
Resources and says he can't afford to buy marijuana on the street or
through the non-profit B.C. Compassion Club Society.

His attempts to have welfare pay for the drug have been rebuffed as has a
request to the College of Pharmacists to have the drug placed on its
schedule of approved drugs.

Both groups say the drug's questionable legal status stands in the way of
them responding to Babcock's request. While he has recently been approved
to use a surrogate grower, even that is going to cost $50 an ounce.

So Babcock decided to mount a legal challenge to force the government to
either provide marijuana or hire a company that can.

"This is only to get what should be rightfully ours," Babcock said. "If
they would provide it, I wouldn't say another word."

Using a $30 cheque from Kennedy, Babcock opened a trust fund for donations
at the downtown branch of Scotiabank, with the help of Daryl Roberts,
executive director of the AIDS Resource Centre.

"We are advocates for people who have this prescription and he has it,"
said Roberts. "Clearly, nobody thought this one through."

Donations made out to the Michele Kennedy Medical Marijuana Legal Fund can
be dropped off or mailed to the AIDS Resource Centre at #202-1626 Richter
St., V1Y 2M3.

Pubdate: Wed, 19 Mar 2003
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003, West Partners Publishing Ltd.
Contact: edit@kelownacapnews.com
Website: http://www.kelownacapnews.com/