HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Police Raid AIDS Activist's Home For Marijuana
Pubdate: Mon, 05 Mar 2001
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2001 Southam Inc.
Contact:  300 - 1450 Don Mills Road, Don Mills, Ontario M3B 3R5
Fax: (416) 442-2209
Author: Anne Marie Owens


Given Exemption To Cultivate Drug For Own Use In 1999

Jim Wakeford was charged with drug trafficking.

Police raided the home of a York Region man with a legal exemption to
grow marijuana hours after his lawyers had argued in court that the
law provides such people inadequate protection from drug charges.

Jim Wakeford had just returned to his home in Udora in Georgian
Township, north of Toronto, on Friday after a day-long session at the
Ontario Court of Appeal when police arrived to seize approximately 200
cannabis plants he was growing for himself and other chronically ill

Mr. Wakeford, who was granted an exemption in 1999 to cultivate,
possess and smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes, was charged with

Officers from York Region and the RCMP left him the seven plants and
30 grams he is allowed under the terms of his exemption.

"It was a nasty thing to do to a sick man," said the 56-year-old AIDS
patient, who uses marijuana to alleviate the severe nausea caused by
his medication.

He had recently arranged to use the rural property in Udora to improve
his chances of growing marijuana and medicinal herbs.

His lawyers argued in court on Friday the exemptions provided to 170
Canadians like Mr. Wakeford are an illusion, as they do not offer any
protection from prosecution under the country's drug laws.

"I am extremely suspicious about the timing of it," said Louis
Sokolov, one of Mr. Wakeford's lawyers. "It's more than a little bit
ironic that they would make these seizures after spending the day in
court arguing that Mr. Wakeford had nothing to fear from these

He said they will vigorously defend Mr. Wakeford on the charges.

Alan Young, another of Mr. Wakeford's lawyers, said what happened to
his client on Friday night is exactly what they had been arguing
against in court that day.

"The biggest problem is they all need to violate the terms of their
exemptions ... in order to get an adequate supply," said Mr. Young.

He said it is obvious from "the size and sophistication" of Mr.
Wakeford's marijuana plant supply that he is not involved in a
large-scale growing operation.

Most of the 200 plants seized in the raid on Friday were seedlings
many months away from being ready for harvest.

Mr. Wakeford and others have argued the terms of the exemption force
them to deal with drug dealers and pay high costs for often unreliable

Health Canada has awarded a Saskatchewan company a contract to grow
medicinal marijuana in an abandoned mine, but it is not known how soon
a supply will be available or how it will be distributed to those
granted exemptions.
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