Another problem with the medical exemption system is that the vast majority of sick people who could benefit from medical marijuana don’t have an exemption; these people face brutal violence, arrest and detention at the hands of police officers.
According to Ontario exemptee Alison Myrden, about 170 people have received exemptions to date, but there are over a thousand more waiting for approval. On top of that, there are hundreds of thousands more who don’t trust the government enough to apply, or who don’t believe that it should be illegal in the first place.
Grant Krieger ? who uses marijuana to control his MS ? is one of those people who believe it should be legal, and when he argued his case in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench he won? the laws were declared unconstitutional (CC#30, Busted up dates). The decision echoed the same finding by an Ontario Supreme Court last Summer, which gave the government until Summer 2001 to change the law.
Krieger faced jail time anyway because he failed to visit his probation officer every week. When he went to turn himself in, he brought a phat sack of three ounces of herbal therapy. The police took it from him, but held it on Krieger’s behalf, noting that it was his “legal choice.” Krieger has since been released, and his lawyer is now involved in a precedent-setting application to have the cannabis returned.
Sioux St Marie resident James Guerten ? who uses cannabis to control a panic disorder and ADHD ? says he was punched in the face when police raided his medical cannabis operation in April, 2000. “The cop was all worried that I had AIDS or Hepatitis,” said Guerten, “cause he cut his hand on my teeth.” According to Guerten, police then took his 400 clones and 50 flowering plants, and tore his house apart.
They shredded his curtains, said Guerten, put all the shake and leaf and stuff in the toilet, tore his clothes out and smeared them with dirt. “I had some tears when I was trying to clean it up,” he related, still shaken. Luckily for Guerten, the warrant was invalid and the case thrown out. But he still faces the problem of supplying himself with cannabis, and has been evicted from his home.
Like Lynn Harichy (CC#29, Police bust Lynn Harichy), Ontario resident Bob Day James was waiting for a medical exemption when his home was raided on January 9 of this year. James suffers from “Dystonia” an extremely rare condition characterized by muscle spasms, extreme stiffness and tension and smothering pain. “It is like having a bunch of bees stinging me every day in the shoulder and neck area,” said James. “I hardly have voice. I have to gasp for air, because I have to push to breathe. It mostly prevents me from moving my head from any direction whatsoever. It is fully tilted backward. I haven’t seen my penis in over three years. Only in a mirror.”
During the raid on his medical cannabis grow operation, police got rough. “The officer twisted my arm backward, and I folded forward, because my arm is not capable of moving like that.” He spent several hours in jail.
James is charged with possession, possession for the purpose of trafficking and cultivation. He is still awaiting a decision in his case.