HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Patient Sues To Obtain 'Safe' Source Of Medicinal Pot
Pubdate: Thu, 13 Apr 2000
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2000 Southam Inc.
Contact:  300 - 1450 Don Mills Road, Don Mills, Ontario M3B 3R5
Fax: (416) 442-2209
Author: Jonathan Kay


Use, Without Access, Of No Use, Lawyers Tell Court

The federal government should provide a "safe, secure and affordable
supply of marijuana" to Canadians who require the substance for
legitimate medical purposes, lawyers for James Wakeford, a Toronto
AIDS patient, argued in court yesterday.

"To get the marijuana he needs," lawyer Alan Young told Judge Blenus
Wright of Ontario Superior Court, "Mr. Wakeford has to expose himself
to risk. Two of his caregivers have already been arrested. He has to
buy marijuana on the black market. He's been ripped off. And he
exposes himself to products that contain fungi and

Mr. Wakeford is seeking a court order that will force Ottawa to
provide him with the drug. He also wants legal immunity for the
caregivers who occasionally supply him with marijuana and help him
with cultivation.

In 1999, Mr. Wakeford became the first Canadian awarded an exemption
to possess and cultivate marijuana. Since then, 35 others have
received similar exemptions.

However, Mr. Wakeford calls that right "illusory" because he has no
legal source from which to buy young marijuana plants.

He also argues that, like many similarly situated individuals, he
lacks the physical strength, facilities and botanical expertise to
grow an adequate crop. "It's as if the federal government says to him,
'Go get a loaf of bread, let it grow mould and make your own
penicillin,' " Mr. Young told the court.

Mr. Wakeford has used marijuana since 1996 to relieve the nausea and
appetite loss caused by AIDS medications. His case is being heard amid
new reports that suggest marijuana provides effective relief from a
wide range of ailments, including nausea associated with cancer
chemotherapy, intra-ocular pressure caused by glaucoma and muscle spasticity.

Mr. Wakeford's legal battle began in 1998, when he successfully sought
an exemption from portions of Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances

That action eventually forced the Ministry of Health to develop a
standardized procedure for cases in which sick Canadians seek similar

Since then, Allan Rock, the Health Minister, has announced plans to
develop a domestic source of marijuana for medical and research
purposes, as well as clinical trials to test its medicinal properties.

Judge Wright reserved judgment.

"Jim was like an icebreaker," said a fellow AIDS sufferer and
CDSA-exemptee attending the hearing. "He challenged the government and
opened the door for the rest of us."

Meantime, another exemptee in attendance yesterday was spotted rolling
a joint on his lap during the afternoon session, filling the courtroom
with the smell of dried marijuana. The 45-year-old Oshawa man, who
says he suffers from hepatitis C, later smoked the joint outside court.

"I'm here to fight for the right to have the medicine, to have the
prescription Allan Rock wrote me. I want it filled," he said.
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