Pained Pot Activist Just Wants His Milk and Marijuana in Prison
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Author: Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun
Published: Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Copyright: 2003 Vancouver Sun
Contact: [email protected]
B.C. lawyer takes up convict's case to force Ottawa to provide some pain relief.
Michael Patriquen may be in a jail cell, but he believes he still has the right to eat marijuana cookies there to ease the pain of injuries he suffered in a car accident four years ago.
While Patriquen is in jail in New Brunswick, his case has been taken up by B.C. lawyer John Conroy, who specializes in marijuana law and prison reform.
Conroy filed an application in federal court in Vancouver last week seeking to compel federal Health Minister Anne McLellan to provide prison officials with an adequate supply of marijuana to provide Patriquen with pain relief.
Patriquen, a 49-year-old pot activist who founded the Nova Scotia Marijuana Party, has a Health Canada exemption allowing him to possess marijuana to alleviate the pain stemming from injuries received in a motor vehicle accident four years ago.
Since September, he has been in the minimum-security Westmorland federal prison in New Brunswick, serving a six-year sentence for marijuana trafficking and cultivation.
Patriquen claims his constitutional right to obtain his medicinal marijuana is being violated by the Correctional Service of Canada, the National Parole Board and McLellan.
His legal action states that he should be released from prison if he is not provided with medicinal marijuana.
"I am not asking to grow my own cannabis (marijuana) in the institution or to smoke it ... only to access it as a medicine through health care in the same fashion as other prisoners access methadone or other more significant side effect type medications," says Patriquen's affidavit, which was filed in federal court in Vancouver by Conroy.
"He just wants to be able to have a marijuana cookie and a glass of milk," said Conroy of his client.
Currently, the government does not provide medicinal marijuana to people who have exemptions to possess and grow marijuana for treatment of their pain and illness.
In March, federal Solicitor- General Wayne Easter, commenting on the Patriquen case, said the government is opposed to the use of medicinal marijuana in prisons.
"We don't want to go down that route...if you are in prison you're not there to smoke marijuana," he said.
Patriquen says in his affidavit, which was obtained by The Vancouver Sun, that "due to my deteriorating health condition over the past six months, my life has become a nightmare. I am in constant pain 24 hours a day. The only variable is the degree of pain I suffer that varies from very bad to agonizing."
Patriquen said he suffers from nausea, is getting weak and has lost about 20 kilograms since he was sent to prison last Sept. 10.
He first received approval for cannabis therapy by Health Canada in August, 2001. Last July, he received a medical marijuana exemption from the government, allowing him to possess up to 150 grams of pot at any time, grow up to 25 marijuana plants and store up to 1,125 grams (there are 28 grams in an ounce).
The legal action also included a number of supporting affidavits, including one from Patriquen's family physician, Dr. Susan Lappin of Nova Scotia, who is very concerned about her patient's deteriorating condition.
The doctor noted "there was a marked improvement in his condition when he was not in custody" because he was able to access marijuana and ease his pain.
Another affidavit was from Steven William Tuck of Vancouver, who says he supplied the seeds used to grow pot plants in an abandoned mine in Flin Flon, Man., for the federal government.
The affidavit was filed to show a federal court judge that the government already has a supply of medicinal marijuana.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Canada heard a constitutional challenge of Canada's marijuana law by two B.C. men and a companion case from Ontario. The court reserved judgment.
The government has suggested it plans to move ahead with decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
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