New Marijuana Challenge from Multiple Sclerosis Patient
Lynn Harichy follows in Chris Clay’s footsteps and gets herself arrested to challenge the law.
Marijuana isn’t supposed to make you angry or aggressive, but in Lynn Harichy’s case, it’s done both. On September 15, Harichy, who is 36 and a mother of four, passed through a crowd of supporters and journalists in front of the London, Ontario police station and got herself arrested for possessing marijuana.
Painfully inspired by a lack of legalpot
Harichy’s radical course of action was inspired by the lack of legal access to medicinal pot in Canada. Harichy has multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disorder that can lead to paralysis, muscle spasticity, extreme fatigue, mental disorientation and a number of other unpleasant symptoms.
Smoking marijuana relaxes Harichy’s muscles to the point where she can walk without difficulty and relieves feelings of pain so intense that it feels like her spine is cracking.
Chris Clay opened the door
Harichy, who describes herself as “a law abiding citizen who supports the police,” was motivated to launch her protest after witnessing the trial of London hemp store owner Chris Clay. Clay, who was in court this summer on marijuana-related charges, used his trial to launch a constitutional challenge against Canada’s cannabis laws.
The presiding judge at Clay’s trial, Justice John McCart, spoke sympathetically of decriminalization but said he lacked the authority to overturn Canada’s pot statutes. He also noted that marijuana has “proven therapeutic benefits” and suggested that Parliament “take a second look” legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“With Justice McCart, I saw a door opening [for medical pot],” Harichy says.
The challenge begins
Harichy has retained Clay’s lawyer, long-time drug reform activist and Osgoode Hall law professor Alan Young. Like Clay, she plans to turn her trial into a forum for legalizing marijuana ? at least for medical purposes. (Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, doctors can make medical use of heroin and cocaine, but not cannabis.)
The MS Society
Harichy isn’t fazed by the fact that the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada has tried to distance themselves from her.
“We don’t endorse medical marijuana,” says Deanna Groetzinger, MS Society vice-president of communications, “but then, we don’t endorse any kind of treatment.”
The MS Society does provide literature on medical marijuana to interested parties, and Groetzinger says her organization doesn’t rule out clinical studies that would test the effectiveness of cannabis ? or rather Marinol (the synthetic THC pill) ? on MS patients.
MS won’t wait
Long term studies might take years to complete, and Harichy can’t wait that long to get legal permission to use her medicine.
Her ultimate goal is to have the House of Commons either decriminalize or legalize home cultivation of cannabis. That way, patients such as herself wouldn’t have to purchase pot from a pharmacy or the black market, but could merely walk into their backyards to prepare a herbal tonic for what ails them.
For more Information
To send donations to the Lynn Harichy Defense Fund, contact: Professor Alan Young, Osgoode Hall School, 4700 Keele St, North York, Ontario, M3J 1P3; tel (416) 736-5595; fax (416) 736-5736.