Source: Vancouver Sun (Canada)
Pubdate: Tue, 8 Sep 1998
Author: Rick Ouston


A Vancouver man who, police say, grew up to $50,000 worth of marijuana in
his basement has been granted a discharge by a judge who believed his
argument that he used the drug to battle glaucoma.

Stanley Czolowski, charged by police with producing and trafficking in
three kilograms of marijuana last August, admitted he was guilty but
successfully argued that marijuana is the only substance that allows him to
combat the crushing pain and nausea that are side-effects of his condition
and the prescription medications he must ingest.

In the transcript of a decision released to his lawyer, John Conroy, late
last week and obtained exclusively by the Vancouver Sun, provincial court
Judge Jane Godfrey said she accepted that Czolowski used and trafficked in
the restricted drug.

The litany of problems suffered by 44-year-old Czolowski because of his
condition -- including pressure in the eyeball, deteriorating vision,
nausea from other drugs, lack of appetite and crushing fatigue -- was a
powerful argument against banning marijuana from people who use it
medicinally, she said.

"I have heard from the accused and I have read the material that is filed
in terms of what his daily existence is like, and I have no difficulty
whatsoever in understanding his personal motivation and I have extreme
sympathy for his personal situation," she said.

In a judgment that appears to be the first of its kind in Canada, she
granted him a discharge both for possession and trafficking. Czolowski was
selling his home-grown pot to the Compassion Club, a Vancouver group that
distributes free or low-cost marijuana to people suffering from diseases
ranging from glaucoma to cancer, AIDS and epilepsy.

An Ontario justice ruled in December that Canada's marijuana laws unfairly
denied the right of a Toronto epileptic to an effective medication for his
condition, but Terry Parker had been charged only with possession, not

In the Vancouver ruling, Judge Godfrey took the Parker decision into
consideration, saying the judge in that case had ruled that denying Parker
possession of marijuana did little or nothing to enhance the state's
interest in better health for a member of the community.

She wrote: "I have considered the facts before me and the case law and in
all of the circumstances I am satisfied it's not contrary to the public
interest, notwithstanding the volume involved, and certainly it's in the
interests of the accused to grant him a discharge, and I do so conditional
on his entering into a probation order to keep the peace and be of good
behaviour for a period of one year. Those are the only terms of the order."

Godfrey also noted that her stance on pot applied only to medicinal marijuana.

"I should indicate that I consider this case to be unique on its facts,"
she said. "This is not an open invitation to others to follow the accused's
approach, absent medical problems of their own."

Lawyer Conroy, who has also represented clients arguing a constitutional
challenge of the country's pot laws, told the court he would try to get a
doctor to prescribe marijuana to Czolowski, a way to circumvent the federal
law restricting access to narcotics and other drugs from general use.

Court was told that police raided Czolowski's rented Marpole home in August
1997, acting on a tip. In the basement they found hydroponic equipment, 14
full-size pot plants, 20 small plants from five to 30 centimetres tall and
28 infant plants a few centimetres tall. Police estimated the value of the
plants at $35,000 to $50,000.

Czolowski, a freelance photographer and silversmith, produced medical
evidence at his trial showing he suffers from a type of glaucoma called
open-angle, which causes deterioration of vision, a condition he believes
he inherited from his father, Ted, who also worked as a photographer and
suffers glaucoma.

Although he receives no criminal record and was given no jail time or fines
- -- marijuana cultivation can be punishable by up to seven years in prison,
while the maximum penalty for trafficking is life -- police did seize and
retain about $2,500 worth of growing equipment, Czolowski's wife, Trudy
Greif, said.

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Checked-by: Joel W. Johnson