Wednesday May 15 1:39 PM EST
REGINA (CP) - A Saskatchewan man fighting a pot-growing conviction received formal permission this week to grow marijuana legally. Days after the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled he deserved a conditional sentence for growing pot, Barry Neil Malanchuk - who has diabetes, heart disease, glaucoma and kidney disease - received the Health Canada exemption.
"It came by registered mail. It kind of surprised me," said Malanchuk, 40, of Lloydminster.
The three-judge panel reduced the original sentence from 15 months to nine months.
A judge found Malanchuk guilty in January of possessing and growing marijuana and possessing hash oil.
Malanchuk has since suffered a heart attack and his health remains poor.
Defence lawyer Michael Hall said his client should have received a conditional discharge instead of a reduced sentence.
Malanchuk is asking the court to reconsider its position now that he has received the exemption.
"It's a classic case of the left hand of the law not knowing what the right hand of the law is doing," Malanchuk said.
Malanchuk was charged in August 2000 after the RCMP seized eight full-sized marijuana plants from his home.
He claimed the marijuana was being grown strictly for personal use for its medicinal effects.
Last year, federal regulations were introduced to allow certain people with terminal or serious illnesses - such as cancer, AIDS or multiple sclerosis - to legally use marijuana with government permission.
But Crown prosecutor Wade McBride argued there hasn't been compelling medical evidence to prove marijuana would help Malanchuk's particular health problems.
Malanchuk called the federal exemption a tremendous load off his shoulders and said he wants to start growing his own medical marijuana as soon as possible.
But he added that Ottawa's rules for qualifying are still too strict.
"I'm a sick and dying person," he said. "It's a shame you have to be
this way to receive an exemption."
Copyright © 2000 Canadian Press