Pubdate: Wed, 01 Aug 2007
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Times Colonist
Author: Richard Watts, Times Colonist
Cited: Vancouver Island Compassion Society
Bookmark: (Vancouver Island Compassion Society)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal - Canada)


A woman, diagnosed with HIV and hepatitis C, first turned to marijuana
to deal with pain and nausea, court heard yesterday.

"I smoked this pipe. It was amazing. It was so amazing. I actually
even went to a restaurant half an hour later and had something to
eat," testified Michelle Christensen in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria.

Christensen said since that day in 2001, she uses marijuana daily. She
likes to eat it in a cookie that she buys from the Vancouver Island
Compassion Society and the Victoria Cannabis Buyers' Club.

She was testifying in the trials of Michael Swallow, 41, and Mat
Beren, 32, both charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose
of trafficking and production of marijuana.

Swallow and Beren were arrested in May 2004 when RCMP raided a house
near Sooke used by the Vancouver Island Compassion Society to grow
marijuana for its approximately 600 members.

Lawyers for the men, John Conroy and Kirk Tousaw, have launched a
constitutional challenge contending Canada's drug regulations force
Canadians onto the black market to buy medical marijuana. They claim
that interferes with their Charter right to security of person.

Christensen also testified she is aware of the Health Canada
regulations which allow people to sign up as medical marijuana users.
The federal government grows its own supply in an abandoned mine shaft
in Flin Flon, Man.

But she said the regulations ask for signatures from doctors and she
hasn't been able to find a doctor willing to to do that. "I can't get
anybody to sign the stupid papers."

Christensen agreed using marijuana as she does is criminal. But
marijuana means the difference between lying in bed all day and a
comparatively pain-free and useful life.

She is executive administrative assistant for the Vancouver Island
Persons with AIDS Society.

Under cross-examination by Crown lawyer Lori McMorran, however,
Christensen admitted she knows other marijuana users who have managed
to register with Health Canada. 
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