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More MS news articles for December 2003

Supreme Court won't hear Crown challenge of medicinal pot exemption

Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Canadian Press

An Alberta multiple sclerosis patient won a mixed victory Tuesday when the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge of a court order that gave him a lifelong right to grow marijuana and use it as medicine.

Grant Krieger, 49, of Calgary, uses pot to alleviate chronic pain and has run afoul of the law repeatedly in his crusade to legalize such use. He started the Calgary chapter of the Compassion Club, a group devoted to supplying the intoxicating drug to those who need it.

Some people have been given an exemption that allows them to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes, but Krieger's lawyer Adriano Iovinelli has argued that the exemption law is unconstitutional and flawed because there is no legal source of the drug.

In a ruling three years ago, Alberta Queen's Bench Justice Darlene Acton gave the federal government one year to provide a source of marijuana for people who require it for health reasons.

The Alberta Court of Appeal last year extended that stay indefinitely, until there is an application to the courts to remove it. The decision effectively gave Krieger a lifetime exemption to possess marijuana for his own use. The Crown appealed that decision to Canada's highest court.

Iovinelli said his client was happy with Tuesday's decision, but would have liked to bring the issue before the Supreme Court.

"At the end of the day, he would be very happy, obviously, to know that his exemption is intact," Iovinelli said from Calgary on behalf of Krieger, who has become increasingly frail.

"On the other hand, he started the Compassion Club not just for himself but for other people, so he'd love to bring it to the forefront of public opinion and have it argued at the Supreme Court of Canada.

"Even though he may lose his own battle, if he can bring more attention to the cause, that's always been his position."

The Supreme Court decision not to hear the appeal in the Krieger case came on the same day the high court upheld the Criminal Code provisions against possession of marijuana.

Copyright © 2003, Canadian Press