Pubdate: Thu, 10 Oct 2002
Source: Halifax Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2002 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Michael Patriquen
Note: Michael Patriquen is serving a six-year sentence in Springhill 
Penitentiary for conspiring to possess and traffic marijuana.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Unfortunately, my access to the print media is severely limited, but I have 
noticed in The Herald over the past several weeks articles, editorial 
comments and reader views on my medical dilemma.

I'd like to give my view from this side of the fence.

Following a motor vehicle accident in 1999, I found myself with a very 
painful disability. Our family physician and a number of specialists spent 
a great deal of time and testing to come up with the correct diagnosis and 
treatment plan.

Initial drug treatments ranged from Advil at the beginning to huge daily 
doses of powerful narcotics, to which I became physically dependent, toward 
the end. Nothing worked. Nothing would control my constant, chronic nerve 
pain and allow me any quality of life. Yes, synthetic THC, Marenol, was 
considered, and rejected due to its extreme psychoactivity, lack of pain 
control and extreme gastrointestinal upset.

At the end of the pharmacopia, I suggested, in desperation, applying for a 
Section 56 exemption to the cannabis laws to use marijuana to treat my 
neuropathic pain. After seven to eight months of attempting to come up with 
an alternative, the team of specialists at Health Canada agreed there was 
no alternative therapy available and approved my application in August of 2001.

After two months, I was weaned off the narcotics - an experience close to 
death - and stabilized on cannabis. My pain was under control, as was my 
life. I went back to work on my project of developing a new business; 
family life resumed; I began rehabilitative physical therapy and, with the 
assistance of my therapist, rebuilt my wasted body.

After over two years of fruitless experimentation that had cost me my 
health - and almost my life - cannabis was deemed my saviour.

This spring, I reapplied to Health Canada for cannabis approval under the 
new medical marijuana access regulations, which have much more stringent 
application procedures - requiring that two specialists submit the 
application under their signatures. In their application, the specialists 
only made one change to the original application - to up the daily dose by 
250 per cent.

After studying the application for only three months, Health Canada 
approved it on July 22 of this year, making me one of the very few 
Canadians with symptoms severe enough to have qualified under both sets of 

I knew I had a prison sentence looming for growing pot and planning to sell 
some. I also knew that Allan Rock's department had grown 250 kilograms of 
pot to distribute to exemptees, so I was not concerned as to my medical supply.

Early this summer, Health Minister Anne McLellan announced that she would 
not distribute the herb until she had conducted double-blind studies - to 
commence this fall.

Knowing that a lack of medicine - the medicine of last resort - would be 
catastrophic to my health, and that it would now not be available in 
prison, I requested that my attorney petition the Supreme Court of Nova 
Scotia to delay sentencing until Health Canada made cannabis available to me.

The decision on the very narrow legal issue of whether I had the right to 
be heard was delivered by Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Suzanne Hood on 
Sept. 10, 2002. She stated that this matter was not her problem, but the 
problem of Correctional Services of Canada (CSC). She then proceeded to 
sentence me to six years' federal incarceration.

She was wrong: It is not CSC's problem - it is my problem. I believe that 
CSC honestly wants to help - they are watching me suffer - but their hands 
are tied. I have seen both doctors here and have dealt with all of their 
medical staff. Since all conventional therapies have been tried and have 
failed, and there is no legal source of cannabis, all they can offer me is 
their sympathy.

I have dealt with the authorities to the highest levels, who have consulted 
with their superiors in Ottawa. I have the one medical need that cannot be 
treated in prison.

I am in constant pain, 24 hours a day. The only question awaiting hourly is 
the severity to be dealt with. Due to the nausea created by the pain, I am 
able to eat little - and most of that comes back up. Rather than sleep, I 
lie quietly and hope to drift into a state of semi-consciousness, which 
happens from time to time for periods of 20 minutes or so - until I am 
jolted awake by a new arrow of pain.

In essence, by being imprisoned and deprived of my medicine, I am subjected 
to constant severe pain, deprived of food and denied sleep. Quite simply: 

If a Canadian were being held under these conditions in a foreign country, 
there would be an international diplomatic furor. Yet it is happening to a 
Canadian, in Canada.

To this end, the Marijuana Party of Canada has issued a complaint to 
Amnesty International, which we expect will fully investigate and complain 
on the world stage.

My family, friends, colleagues and well-wishers are naturally upset with my 
treatment. Members of the House of Commons and the Senate have expressed 
their outrage. Justice Minister Martin Cauchon has recently stated that our 
pot laws need to be modernized and streamlined. This is the type of 
situation he must have meant, where we have three federal ministries - 
Justice, Health and Solicitor General - all fighting over the archaic 
marijuana laws while people such as myself suffer. It was Cauchon's own 
minions in the federal Department of Justice who fought so savagely to have 
me imprisoned - with no medicine.

I don't know what will happen to me in the short-term, but I know that if I 
am not treated in the long run, I will leave here crippled, in a wheelchair.
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