CALGARY – A medical marijuana activist in Calgary was sentenced Tuesday to four months in jail for trafficking in marijuana, but the judge ruled that corrections officials must make sure he has access to the drug while behind bars.
Grant Krieger, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and has legal permission to smoke marijuana for medical purposes, had previously admitted to sending two packages of marijuana to Manitoba in 2003 and 2004. Provincial court Judge William Pepler said Tuesday that incarceration is appropriate, but he is delaying Krieger’s time behind bars until June to allow corrections officials to figure out how they will administer medical marijuana to him.
Pepler said although he recognizes that Krieger has a special constitutional right to receive marijuana to alleviate pain, the federal government has a program for people in Krieger’s situation and Krieger must now comply with the law.
Outside court, Krieger said his condition had worsened when he was previously jailed for similar offences without access to marijuana. “I had to sit in a wheelchair, couldn’t walk.” Krieger said he will keep defying the law because not all the people who need marijuana for medical purposes are getting access to the federal program.
John Hooker, Krieger’s lawyer, said most people would agree that ill people who need the drug should be able to get it. “I think the law is in conflict with the general feeling of the population. This is a medicine that should be given to sick people.”
SCOC overturned unrelated conviction
In October, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned an unrelated conviction, ruling the trial judge erred by directing the jury to find Krieger guilty. The judge at Krieger’s trial in 2003 instructed the jury to “retire to the jury room to consider what I have said, appoint one of yourselves to be your foreperson, and then to return to the court with a verdict of guilty.”
Two jurors objected, one on religious grounds and the other on grounds of conscience. They asked to be excused from the case, but the judge refused the request.
The top court ruled that the judge deprived Krieger of his constitutional right to a trial by jury when he gave his instructions. “The trial judge’s direction was not a ‘slip of the tongue’ to be evaluated in the context of the charge as a whole,” the court wrote.
– Article from CBC News