HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Judge Rejects Medicinal Pot Claim
Pubdate: Sun, 26 May 2002
Source: Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic (CN MB)
Copyright: 2002 Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic
Author: Leslie Bryde
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


A judge didn't buy a Portage la Prairie man's argument he needs to 
use marijuana to ease his unbearable pain, the result of a 
work-related accident.

Judge John Guy convicted Kenneth James Miller, 41, of possession of 
the illegal drug despite his claim the marijuana and drug-related 
paraphernalia RCMP seized during a raid on his home three years ago 
was for medicinal purposes.

"Simply put, you have nothing to show that you have been granted a 
government exemption from being prosecuted for marijuana possession, 
do you?" Guy asked Miller, when he took the stand at his trial in 
Portage provincial court yesterday.

Miller was charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of 
trafficking following the police search on May 13, 1999.

Miller, who represented himself in court, told the judge he did not 
have special permission to use marijuana for medical treatment.

"But I have the papers to show that I've tried to get one," he added, 
producing a copy of an application form he sent to the federal 
government in January of 2001.

"In this case, trying isn't good enough," responded Guy, pointing out 
the Portage man received no legal documentation over the past 16 
months to back up his argument he smoked pot for medical reasons. 
"The law is clear when it comes to matters like this. If you don't 
have the necessary papers to show you're exempted, then you can be 
convicted of possession."

During the trial, federal Crown attorney Mike Law presented evidence 
local RCMP officers obtained during the 1999 drug bust.

Law argued the evidence showed Miller was a small-time street dealer 
who sold marijuana to support his own drug habit.

RCMP Cpl. Sandy Ferguson testified six items, including a total of 63 
grams of marijuana, a scale and $385 in cash, were seized from 
Miller's home on Eighth Street N.W. Court was told the warrant was 
issued after the RCMP received a tip Miller was dealing drugs.

Law also brought in an expert on drug trafficking who testified the 
items found in the home were consistent with small trafficking 
operations found throughout Manitoba. "In my opinion, the evidence is 
consistent with that of a street level trafficker of marijuana," said 
RCMP Const. Kevin Lamontagne, who's spent the past nine years working 
in the force's drug section in Winnipeg.

Several times during the Mountie's testimony, Miller interrupted to 
claim he was not a drug dealer.

"I don't sell pot. I don't traffic. I have no intention of 
trafficking. I use the marijuana to take away the pain I suffer from 
every day as a result of a railway tie falling on my head. It's the 
only thing I can take,"

Miller said before breaking down in tears.

He told court he was injured in August of 1987 while working for 
Canadian National Railway.

He said the incident left him with spinal and neck injuries. Miller 
claimed doctors have told him no medicine will cure his pain.

The judge said despite whatever empathy he might have for Miller, he 
was required to follow the law.

"I accept that you have injuries. I can even accept you may need 
marijuana. The fact is on May 13, 1999, you didn't have a medical 
exemption to use marijuana. I must base my decision on that fact," 
said Guy.

At the same time, the judge said Miller's testimony raised some doubt 
as to whether he was selling drugs.

As a result, he acquitted him on the drug trafficking charge.

Before fining Miller $300, the judge issued a stern warning.

"If you continue on this path of illegal behaviour, the courts are 
eventually going to send you to jail. I'd advise you to seek an 
exemption immediately if you don't want that to happen. But it's a 
decision only you can make," said Guy.
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