More MS news articles for July 2001

MS marijuana crusader in for another legal fight

Friday 20 July 2001

The Crown has decided to appeal an Alberta court ruling that said marijuana crusader Grant Krieger was justified in breaking the law by selling pot to chronically ill people.

Krieger said Thursday the appeal documents indicate the Crown will argue the trial judge erred in law when she instructed the jury that the defence of necessity could be justified.

Krieger, 46, has multiple sclerosis and has been fighting for more than five years to have the drug legalized for medical purposes. A jury acquitted him last month on a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking, accepting the defence argument that he was saving lives when he supplied marijuana to the sick.

Krieger said he's prepared to take his fight all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

"I'm saying it is a necessity," he said. "I deal with people who have attempted suicide in the past and who will attempt it in the future. You can't turn your back on people like that. The trafficking laws need to be addressed."

Ottawa has granted some exemptions that allow certain seriously ill people to use marijuana without facing criminal charges. But those people can't obtain the drug legally, Krieger said.

"The government is allowing the use of medicinal cannabis. However, there is no supply system for it, so anybody who they say can use the cannabis plant has to get somebody else to commit an act of trafficking to supply them what the government said they could use."

During the trial, Krieger readily admitted growing 29 pot plants in his home in August 1999. He said the crop was designed to help the chronically ill who came to his Universal Compassion Club to ease their pain and suffering.

Crown prosecutor Scott Couper had argued that despite Krieger's motivation, he didn't meet the strict legal test of necessity.

In April, the federal government announced that people suffering from severe forms of arthritis, terminal illnesses and other serious conditions have the right to possess and smoke marijuana legally if they can prove they can't be treated with other drugs to alleviate relentless pain.

The measures also allow the government to license third parties to grow marijuana for sufferers who can't grow it for themselves.

Those who will be allowed to grow the drug will be limited to a certain number of indoor and outdoor plants. They will be allowed to receive and possess seeds and must undergo site inspections and criminal-record checks.