Pubdate: Sat, 09 Feb 2013
Source: Sudbury Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 Osprey Media
Author: Laura Stricker


In 2006, John Oswald had it all -- a lucrative job working on the 
Alberta pipeline, a big house and a loyal partner.

In a matter of seconds, it was all ripped away from him.

"A guy overpressurized a tank ... It was a really big tank, 400 
barrels," Oswald, who now lives in Sudbury, said. "He blew the lid 
off of it. The lid hit me, it was 730 pounds ... it shattered my 
shoulder, it shattered my elbow, fractured my skull, fractured my C2 
and C3 vertebrae. I was in the hospital for two years, pretty much."

He was also kept in a medically induced coma for close to three 
weeks, and was prescribed -- and became addicted to -- oxycodone, a 
time he still cringes to think about.

"(The oxycodone) completely destroyed my life. I lost the woman I was 
with at the time, I lost a 150-acre farm.

"Those pills are horrible."

After spending seven months at a pain management clinic in Calgary, 
Oswald vowed he would never take oxycontin again and began searching 
for a doctor to prescribe him medical marijuana. Two years later, he 
found one in British Columbia.

He suffers from thoracic outlet syndrome, which occurs when blood 
vessels or nerves in the space between the collarbone and first rib 
become compressed, causing pain in the shoulders and neck and 
numbness in the fingers. OxyContin would just numb the pain, 
according to Oswald, whereas marijuana provides complete relief from 
the nerve pain.

While Oswald was waiting for his licence to grow the drug to arrive 
in the mail, on Sept. 21, he says, Greater Sudbury Police officers 
broke down the door of a house he shares with his fiancee and found 
nine marijuana plants.

Oswald travels regularly to Alberta for physiotherapy and was there 
when the officers came calling.

"If they had come when I was here, I would have been charged with 
cultivation for the purposes of trafficking. Instead, they kicked in 
the door and arrested my seven-months-pregnant (fiancee) for nine plants.

"First they wanted to charge me with cultivation for the purposes of 
trafficking, but when they came here they realized that this guy's 
got medical records, and there were no scales, no baggies, no debt 
lists . all there was was a personal smoker with nine plants."

Though his licence to grow medical marijuana arrived four days after 
officers came to his home, they're still pressing on with charging 
Oswald with possession for use in production or trafficking and 
simple possession.

Officials with Greater Sudbury Police did not return phone calls 
placed by The Star asking for comment.

Oswald's next court date is in March, and he's heard prosecutors are 
asking for a sentence of six months house arrest. If that happens, it 
will cripple his ability to provide for his three-month-old child, Oswald said.

He's taking classes in business and computers at Everest College, 
working towards eventually becoming a welding inspector.

"For me to be a welding inspector, all the work is back up in 
Alberta, out in Fort McMurray. There's hundreds of welding inspectors 
they're looking for ... If they convict me on all this st, I'm 
screwed. I can't even take care of my kid."

His fiancee, who asked that her name not be used, was so stressed by 
the incident that she gave birth three weeks early.

"I ended up having to go for stress-induced tests while I was 
pregnant. I didn't explain to the doctor why I was stressed out. I 
was trying to remain as calm as possible, and they did end up 
inducing me early because they were afraid that the baby hadn't 
grown. He wasn't due until the end of November, but they had to 
induce me on November 6."

At this time, Oswald's fiancee is still charged for having the plants 
in her house, but those charges are expected to be dropped.

Meanwhile, Oswald is stuck in a lose-lose situation -- the conditions 
of his bail say he cannot be around marijuana, only drugs prescribed 
by a doctor. And yet, he has a prescription for marijuana.

"I am in this brutal Catch-22 ... This is the craziest thing I've 
ever gone through in my life."
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