Pubdate: Tue, 12 Nov 2002
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Toronto Star
Author: Roberta Avery
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Father A Medical Marijuana User

Hockey Coach An OPP Detective

HEARST, Ont. - A 9-year-old boy has been transferred off a police-sponsored
hockey team after his father, a medicinal marijuana user, refused to stay
away from the rink.

"My son has been victimized because his sick dad uses marijuana," said
Robert Neron, 36, yesterday.

Neron, a resident of Hearst, a town of 5,000 about 100 kilometres west of
Kapuskasing, is an outspoken advocate for the relaxing of Canadian marijuana

He signed Nicolas up with the Hearst minor hockey league's atom level in
September. The boy and 10 of his friends joined the league's D.A.R.E. hockey
team, part of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program used by the
Ontario Provincial Police to give children skills to avoid involvement with

Last week, Neron showed up at the rink to help Nicolas tie up his skates. He
said the coach of the D.A.R.E. team, OPP Detective Constable Mario
Hautcoeur, told him he wasn't welcome.

"He told me that if I agreed not to help my son get ready for hockey that
Nicolas would still play for the team.

"If I did not agree - because of my beliefs - he will not permit my son to
play with his friends," said Neron.

"When I refused, he threw me out. I was shocked, I'm not the kind of father
who drops his kid off at the door, I want to be there to support my son when
he plays," said Neron.

Hautcoeur, who has been coaching minor hockey in for five years, said the
OPP has told him not to comment.

"The minor hockey association moved the boy to another team to avoid
conflicts," Hautcoeur said.

Neron said he started using marijuana after injuring his neck on the job at
a plywood company about seven years ago. He said he has been in constant
pain since the accident, was charged with possession of a narcotic in 2000.

The charges were withdrawn after he received a federal exemption allowing
him to use marijuana for medical purposes.

Since then, he has been an outspoken advocate for the relaxing of Canadian
marijuana laws. In September, he picketed outside the Hearst courthouse,
when the town council refused to condone a Cannabis Day celebration he wants
to hold in a municipal park next May.

NoŽl Cantin, president of Hearst Minor Hockey, said there was conflict
between the coach and Neron, but that it was resolved by transferring
Nicolas to another team.

"The conflict between them had nothing to do with hockey," said Cantin.
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