HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Decorated Soldier Tires Of Pot Fight
Pubdate: Tue, 29 Jun 2004
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2004 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Mark Roberts
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)


Chester Basin Man Returns To Court July 19

CHESTER BASIN - A decorated peacekeeper from Chester Basin who didn't show 
up for sentencing on a charge of growing marijuana as medicine will return 
to court July 19.

Herbert Shawn Wilson, 38, was arrested last week and brought to Nova Scotia 
Supreme Court in Bridgewater claiming he didn't have transportation on 

He pleaded guilty this spring to growing marijuana in his apartment in 
October 2001, when he was living in Chester. Thursday's sentencing was put 
over until July 19, at which time Mr. Wilson will also enter a plea to a 
March charge of cultivating marijuana.

Other charges set for trial in October include cultivating, possession for 
the purpose of trafficking and breaching a court order.

Mr. Wilson wasn't apologetic earlier this month when he admitted he didn't 
know how long he could survive fighting the justice system for the right to 
use marijuana as medicine.

"My back kills me every day and the cannabis definitely helps me go through 
the day without too much discomfort," he said. "If I had an expert witness 
testify about my back, I would be free right now."

Mr. Wilson said he feels he was pressured into pleading guilty after he was 
arrested and jailed in March. He alleged he wasn't treated well.

Mr. Wilson is a Maritimer who joined the military nearly two decades ago. 
He has been awarded the United Nations Peacekeeping Medal, the Nobel Prize 
- - given to peacekeepers who served in 1988 - and the Canadian Service Medal.

He is also a former member of the Mensa Canada Society, meaning he has a 
higher intelligence quotient than 98 per cent of the world's population.

(He says he doesn't have the money for Mensa's annual registration fee.)

Mr. Wilson served overseas, including in wartorn Cyprus, before injuring 
his back six years into his term. He said the injury was not caused by a 
single incident but instead was created over time through carrying "150 
pounds or more of ammo and equipment."

He provided CAT scan and physician records that showed he has a deformity 
in his back.

He said life was horrible, in that at a moment's notice he would lose all 
ability to work or even sit in one place. He then discovered cannabis, he 
said. "A friend who needed back surgery used cannabis to suppress the pain. 
At the time, I thought this guy was crazy."

Because Mr. Wilson served with and trusted his friend, he said he decided 
to try the dried plant himself.

"It was like an epiphany," he said. "The pain essentially vanished. I 
thought I'd become a lunatic and experience hallucinations but I didn't. I 
then thought, isn't this a lie they've been telling us? It's much less 
harmful than alcohol or cigarettes."

He added that opium-based drugs put him in a daze, unlike marijuana. And 
many drugs, like OxyContin, are addictive; marijuana isn't, he said.

Mr. Wilson continued using marijuana, started cultivating it and then moved 
home to Chester. His apartment was raided in 2001, his growing equipment 
and plants seized, and his young son temporarily taken away from him.

He said he lost his job as a result and cannot get legal help.

"Legal aid will only help you plead guilty," he said. "They won't have 
anything to do with medical or religious defences."

Mr. Wilson has lived in a mobile home measuring just 2.1 metres by nine 
metres since November 2002. He has no electricity, water or septic system. 
No one will hire him, he said.

"My employment capability was absolutely destroyed at the moment I was 
charged," he said. "Right now, I'm relying on the goodwill of friends and 
neighbours, and the food bank."

His son is staying with relatives, something he said is both destroying him 
psychologically and keeping him going.

He said he wants to delay the court proceedings for another year, by which 
time he hopes he can be designated under the Medical Marijuana Act as 
someone legally able to use the drug.

But, Mr. Wilson said, few doctors will sign the needed documents because 
"the Canadian Medical Association essentially said they would place 
themselves in legal jeopardy because it is an illegal substance. Some are 
cannabis-friendly in the Queen Elizabeth II hospital but you need to wait 
18 months."

Dr. Sunil Patel, president of the Canadian Medical Association, agreed 
earlier this month. He said most doctors wouldn't risk approving marijuana 
for use as medicine under the current legislation.

"Prescribing a drug that has not been studied puts the patient at risk, and 
in turn the physician at risk in terms of litigation."

Dr. Patel said scientific studies and clinical assessments are necessary.

"Would we allow a drug company to introduce a drug based on its own say-so? 
We need clinical proof on safety, dosage and effectiveness. The risks are 
unknown at this point."

Mr. Wilson said politicians should be the driving force behind changing the 
law. "Even decriminalization is ridiculous," he said. "I'm not a criminal 
if I possess it, but I would need to get it from a criminal."

As a result, he said, he feels his country has betrayed him.

"I mean, I was shot at, but I may as well throw the medals away because 
they were bestowed for no reason whatsoever."
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