Legal med-pot banned behind bars

Mike and Melanie PatriquenMike and Melanie PatriquenMike Patriquen ? founder and leader of the Nova Scotia Marijuana Party ? continues to languish in prison without access to his legal marijuana medicine.
Patriquen is the first imprisoned Canadian with a government exemption to legally use medicinal pot. Yet as of this writing in January, over six months after being locked away, Patriquen continues to be denied access to his medicinal pot. His wife, Melanie, worries about his failing health.

Patriquen suffers from extreme spinal pain due to a near-fatal car crash in 1999, and although he has tried every available pharmaceutical, only cannabis dulls the extreme pain.

“On November 25 [2002] I spent an hour and a half with Michael,” Melanie said. “I hardly recognized him. He’s just skin and bones. He has chronic pain. Forget about his medicine ? they won’t even give him vitamins!”

Bust history

The Patriquens believe that the bizarre reasons leading to Michael’s imprisonment began at a college party 30 years ago. In 1973, Michael Patriquen was enrolled at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with plans to complete his degree and then enroll at Dalhousie Law School.

One Saturday night, Patriquen took a break from university studies to attend a party that would make his dreams obsolete. That night, police conducted a warrantless search of the party house and frisked everyone present. Patriquen was found with a $20 bag of grass in his pocket and fined $250. It wasn’t a light sentence ? because of his marijuana charges, he was forever barred from law school.

Patriquen has described the bust as “a life-shaping event” which created “a lifelong hatred of the cannabis laws.”

Patriquen dropped out of St Mary’s and moved to Jamaica for a time. He returned to Canada and soon spent four more months in jail for another marijuana offence, followed by a seven-year sentence in the 1980’s for conspiracy to import pot. In 1992, he was arrested again for cultivation of a single marijuana plant, and thrown in jail for 13 months.

Cop conspiracy?

Despite having multiple marijuana convictions, Patriquen said that the charges for which he is currently imprisoned ? conspiracy to traffic in cannabis ? are a fabrication.

In a 2002 interview with Cannabis Culture Patriquen claimed that he was targeted because he had brunch with a man who he called “Mr F” who was under investigation by the RCMP. From 1997 to 1999, police had monitored and wiretapped Mr F, but still had nothing concrete.

Police did a “sneak peak” search of Mr F’s car and found marijuana, which they claimed was from Patriquen. They installed bugs in Patriquen’s home, car, hotel room, and cell phones. Patriquen claims that undercover cops even masqueraded as postmen and intercepted his mail. Still the operation turned up nothing against Patriquen, and only a few kilos on Mr F.

In the winter of 2000, Mr F was arrested with five kilos of bud, along with three Nova Scotia growers who supposedly provided it to him. Patriquen was taken down along with the pack of alleged pot dealers.

The only thing police ever found with the Patriquens was cash. They discovered $13,000 hidden in a stereo speaker in the Patriquen’s home, and another $4,000 in Melanie’s safety deposit box. “It’s not an unusual way to save money,” said Melanie, who reported that her grandfather died with $75,000 in his mattress.

Regardless, in 2000, Michael Patriquen plead guilty to marijuana charges. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment in September 2002. The judge ignored Patriquen’s plea to let him access his med-pot in prison, or to give him house arrest so he could grow his own medicinal buds.

Guilty plea

Why did he plead guilty if the RCMP had so little evidence? I put the question to both Michael and his wife, who said that they were practically bankrupted when cops took all of their savings, making a strong defense impossible to fund.

After seizing the Patriquen’s savings, police executed a search warrant on Melanie’s work, after which she was fired. Both Michael and Melanie Patriquen were charged with proceeds of crime ? now the crown prosecutor hopes to seize their family home.

Michael felt that he got less time by pleading guilty than he would have gotten by fighting his charges. He also complained that the prosecutor withheld “disclosure” ? a pre-trial process in which the prosecutor must reveal all evidence to the accused ? until the very last minute, which made strategizing his defense more difficult.

Regardless of whether Patriquen actually did break Canada’s archaic marijuana laws, even the most violent criminals are not denied their legally prescribed medicines in Canadian prisons.

Melanie says the loss of their life savings doesn’t matter, she just misses her husband, as Michael Patriquen slowly wastes away towards marijuana martyrdom.Mike and Melanie Patriquen

? Cannabis Culture readers can help by sending a letter to Canada’s Minister of Justice, Martin Cauchon, asking for Patriquen to be released under house arrest to grow his own medical marijuana.
? Martin Cauchon: Justice Building, 284 Wellington St, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0H8; fax 613-990 7255
? More news on Patriquen’s case:
? Melanie Patriquen: (902) 865-8606