Pubdate: Thu, 04 Aug 2016
Source: Metro (Calgary, CN AB)
Copyright: 2016 Metro Canada
Author: Helen Pike


Through the smoke and mirrors of Calgary's bylaws, one medical 
marijuana user is celebrating a small victory.

Ticketed for her medicinal marijuana use in a Calgary Transit bus 
shelter, Lisa "Mamakind" Kirkman was prepared to challenge her fines, 
over $1,500 in infractions, as a Charter of Rights and Freedoms case. 
But after a year of fighting the write-ups, charges against her were 
withdrawn on Wednesday, according to her lawyer, because of a vague bylaw.

"The charges were withdrawn," said Student-at-Law Elizabeth 
Weisenburger. "Essentially the wording of the bylaw mostly pertained 
to burning pipe tobacco ... it was vague as to whether it included 
cannabis smoke."

Kirkman said she was charged several times within the span of a few 
weeks. Once with "molesting the comfort of reasonable persons," and 
"smoking on transit property."

"It's a little bit of mixed feelings," said Kirkman. "It's wonderful 
that at least I'm getting an acknowledgement. There's something wrong 
here if I'm continuing to get these tickets and city employees don't 
know what the actual law is ... however, if it had gone to court it 
would have set precedent everywhere, but it would also have chucked 
all the smoking bylaws."

Given the day, and concentration of the marijuana she's using, 
Kirkman has to medicate several times for her various ailments; 
sometimes as much as every 15 minutes. For her, the choice is to sit 
in pain, or light up. And in some instances she has to do so in a bus 
shelter - if the weather is bad.

After the proceeding, city lawyer Ola Malik, walked from the court 
room to the cafeteria area, where Kirkman powered up her volcano 
vaporizer to show him how she medicates. He'd never seen one before.

"From my perspective, the constitutional issue comes down to 
recognizing that people who have been issued with a license have a 
right to treat their condition with medical marijuana we don't want 
to impede this right," said Malik. "But this right must also be 
balanced with the rights of the public to be free from unwanted 
nuisance such as having to deal with the nuisance aspect of secondhand smoke."

Kirkman's medical use is for various serious ailments, all of which 
have been diagnosed - but she stresses her reasons for using the drug 
are between her and her doctor.

"People forget this is a medicine that's not very easy to get," 
Kirkman said. She can't eat the cannabis, she doesn't want to stay at 
home all day to medicate and affordability often has her turning to 
the old fashioned bud.

"It's not the city's job to decide whether or not medical marijuana 
is a good thing," Kirkman said. "They need to accommodate my needs 
and recognize I'm someone with a disability that needs a particular 
type of therapy."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom