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More MS news articles for May 2003

No Tax Deduction for Medical Marijuana,1854,562926,00.html

Apr 24, 2003

A Canadian woman with multiple sclerosis is upset that the government won't allow her to deduct marijuana as a medical expense on her tax return, the Halifax Herald reported April 16.

Jane Parker was legally allowed to use marijuana to relieve symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis after other prescribed drugs had little effect.

"It is a medication," said Parker, 41, of Lunenburg County. "I don't do this for fun. I do this so I can walk, so I can get up in the morning and so I can sleep at night."

With a Health Canada smoker's permit, Parker can consume up to five grams of marijuana a day. The mother of seven purchases the drug from street dealers at $10 a gram. Last year, she spent $12,000 on marijuana. She receives $600 a month from a Canada Pension Plan, and her husband works extra hours to pay the remainder.

"I don't hurt anybody and I'm the one that has to pay the exorbitant costs," said Parker. "I live in my overdraft, my house is up for sale. How many steps am I away from bankruptcy?"

But Parker's accountant informed her that the government would not allow her to claim the drug under a medical-expense tax credit.

"The only things that would be eligible are the things that are actually prescribed by a medical practitioner or dispensed by a pharmacist," said Roy Jamieson, communications manager for the Nova Scotia branch of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.

Because Parker purchases the drug from street dealers, she has no paper receipts. "If the material comes from other sources, whether it be a health-food store or over-the-counter medication or out on the street, there's no way to fit them into the criteria," said Jamieson.

Rather than spend money fighting to get marijuana included on the tax-credit eligibility list, Parker said she's "just not going to file my return. I'll probably end up in jail with nothing, but this is my fight."

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