More MS news articles for December 2000

Judge says Ottawa should change 'absurd' pot law

WebPosted Tue Dec 12 13:05:47 2000

CALGARY - A judge in Calgary chastised the federal government for allowing some people to use marijuana for medicinal purposes without providing them a legal way to get it.

Justice Darlene Acton in Court of Queen's Bench threw out charges of cultivating marijuana against Grant Krieger on Monday. She said the law is unconstitutional because it doesn't allow for medicinal use.

"It's the best muscle relaxant I've come across," said Krieger, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. "Between pharmaceuticals and herbs, this beats everything."

So, following the lead of the Ontario Court of Appeals, Acton gave Ottawa a year to change the law, or have it struck down.

Last summer, an Ontario man with severe epilepsy was charged with possession of marijuana. The charges were thrown out because the law didn't accommodate medicinal uses of pot.

That court gave the federal government 12 months to rewrite the law before possession became legal in Ontario.

Acton said the law is absurd. Under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the federal health minister can exempt individuals who have any of a number of debilitating diseases from the law prohibiting marijuana use.

But there is no provision anywhere in the law for an exemption for growing or selling pot. So people who get an exemption for use, still have to break the law to buy or grow marijuana.

Krieger has never asked for an exemption, and says Monday's ruling is all he needs.

"She (Acton) gave me permission to grow today because she realizes I need it to walk," he said. "So why should I need (Health Minister) Allan Rock's permission?"

Krieger, 46, who has been to court more than 30 times, still faces charges of trafficking. Police say he distributes marijuana to other people who need it for medicinal purposes, through his Universal Compassion Club.