WINNIPEG -- A Calgary-based medicinal pot crusader faces possession charges after being busted by Headingley Mounties on Tuesday.
Grant Krieger, 49, said he was pulled over Tuesday night by RCMP, who seized roughly $7,500 worth of marijuana and cash from his vehicle. Krieger, an MS sufferer who has smoked marijuana for medicinal purposes since 1994, said the pot was for himself and a Selkirk resident stricken with cancer.
Both are legally allowed to grow weed and smoke it for medicinal purposes, Krieger said yesterday.
Krieger is head of the Krieger Foundation, a group devoted to supplying the narcotic to those who need it for medical use.
Krieger said all but a few grams of pot were seized by Mounties.
"These officers, in their infinite wisdom, decided I needed no more than four or five grams and left it in my car," said Krieger, who smokes a half-ounce of weed daily.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Steve Saunders would not confirm Krieger's arrest. He did say, though, that officers found an undisclosed quantity of marijuana and cash after pulling a vehicle over on the Trans-Canada Highway near Headingley early Tuesday evening.
Krieger was convicted by a Calgary judge just last month of trafficking pot after testifying he distributed home-grown marijuana in 1999 to members of his Compassion Club.
CALGARY (CP) - Medical marijuana crusader Grant Krieger was justified in breaking the law and selling pot to chronically ill people, a jury here ruled Wednesday night.
The one-man, 11-woman panel accepted defence lawyer Adriano Iovinelli's argument his client, a former salesperson from Preeceville, was saving lives when he supplied marijuana to the sick.
"It's fantastic, I feel great," Krieger said moments after the verdict was read. "I'm ready to start providing medicine for people who are ill. This is a major step forward."
Krieger, 46, who has multiple sclerosis and has been fighting for more than five years to have the drug legalized for medical purposes, had been charged with one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Iovinelli said outside court the verdict reflected public opinion on the current state of Canada's laws on using marijuana for medicinal reasons.
"It's a message to the government that we've got to change the laws," he said. During final arguments Iovinelli said his client was clearly in possession of the drug for the purpose of trafficking, but broke the law out of necessity. "This is the first time I've ever said to a jury, 'My client did it,' " Iovinelli told jurors.
"Mr. Krieger believes what he is doing is not wrong, what he believes is he is supplying individuals with medicare they can't get anywhere else."
Krieger readily admitted growing 29 pot plants in his home in August 1999. He said the crop was designed to help the chronically ill - who came to his Universal Compassion Club - ease their pain and suffering.
Crown prosecutor Scott Couper argued despite Krieger's motivation, he didn't meet the strict legal test of necessity.
"Ask yourselves whether Mr. Krieger's belief of imminent and pressing peril compelled him to set up this grow operation," Couper told jurors. But Iovinelli argued Krieger knows first-hand to what depths individuals might go to ease their suffering.
"At the end of the day it was necessary for Mr. Krieger to provide marijuana to his clients out of fear that they would commit suicide," the lawyer said. "You can shut your door, you don't have to have humanity, you don't have to help anyone else. . . . Mr. Krieger made it his problem because this is who (he) is."
Const. Christian Vermette had testified he arrested Krieger when he spotted two pot plants on a table in the backyard of the home while he was there on unrelated business.
Vermette said Krieger immediately told him he had other marijuana plants growing inside the house.
In April, the federal government announced people suffering from severe forms of arthritis will be given the right to possess and smoke marijuana legally if they can prove they can't be treated with other drugs to alleviate relentless pain.
The regulations also allow terminal patients and people with AIDS, multiple sclerosis, spinal-cord injuries, epilepsy and other serious conditions to use the drug if it eases their symptoms.
The measures also allow the government to license third parties to grow marijuana for individual sufferers who can't grow it for themselves.
The new rules create three categories of people who can possess the drug: those with terminal illnesses with a prognosis of death within one year, those with symptoms associated with serious medical conditions, and those suffering from symptoms with other medical conditions.
For those who will be allowed to produce the drug, the rules will set maximums for the number of indoor and outdoor plants to be grown, authorize a grower to receive and possess seeds and allow for site inspections and criminal-record checks of designated growers.
In December, Ottawa awarded Prairie Plant Systems Inc. of Saskatoon a contract to grow marijuana for Health Canada for research purposes. The first crop is expected to available later this year.
An Alberta judge has struck down a portion of federal law that prohibits the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes, saying it's unconstitutional.
Justice Darlene Acton struck down Section 7(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act Monday, but stayed the decision for a year.
That time, she said, would allow the federal government ample opportunity to correct the Charter of Rights and Freedoms breach she ruled has been made against marijuana crusader Grant Wayne Krieger.
Acton, as part of the decision, also stayed cultivation charges against Krieger, 46, who has multiple sclerosis, and granted him an exemption under Section 56 of the act so he can now legally grow the illicit drug for his own personal use.
The judge said exemptions permit citizens who require marijuana for health reasons to possess the drug, yet what "triggers the absurdity" is that they are forced to grow it or purchase it illegally off the street.
At least this way, she says, there will be some measure of quality control.
As of Oct. 2, she said, Health Minister Allan Rock has granted 72 exemptions nationally. He also turned down one person and intended to refuse five other applications. Krieger has not applied.
"It would be inhumane to not grant Mr. Krieger an exemption to grow marijuana for his own medical use," the judge told court in reading her 30-page written decision on Krieger's charter challenge in a pre-trial application.
"He has proven to court he needs it and although he hasn't tried every available option, no other conventional drugs have been successful for him."
Defense lawyer Adriano Iovinelli said the judge has made it "very clear" that if the government doesn't react, she'll strike down the section of the act."
I'd be very surprised if the government doesn't react, he said. "She anticipates she'll get a reaction."
However, the judge did not go quite as far as Krieger and his lawyer had hoped.
She dismissed a second application that would have permitted Krieger to sell the marijuana he grows to others who also require it for medical reasons, but may not have a Health Canada exemption.
The judge said she did not find such a limit unjustified and added society would not be protected adequately if anyone could distribute otherwise illegal drugs to whomever they chose.
Krieger still faces a second charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking and is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 10. His illness is an incurable chronic disease of the central nervous system.
Outside court, Krieger was elated with the partial victory . "I'm very happy but it's step 1," he said. "It's a very important decision, because I need it.
"This means I have no fear of police coming to my house and shutting me down," he said. "However, I feel sorry for those people who are in pain and dying and have no supply."
In January, 42-year-old Grant Krieger received his driver's license from the Saskatchewan Government, even though he admitted on his application that he consumes marijuana on a regular basis to relieve the muscle spasms and pain associated with multiple sclerosis.
Grant Krieger drew national headlines last May, when he tried to openly bring prescribed marijuana from Holland into Canada (see CC#6). He was detained by Dutch Authorities and his healing herbs were confiscated.
Kreiger submitted his Dutch prescription to Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI),which is the agency that approves the province's driver's licenses, and he testified that he no longer gets impaired when using marijuana, which he both smokes and ingests on a regular basis.
Darcy McKenzie of SGI was quoted as saying that the board followed "the guidelines set by the Canadian Medical Association and the American Medical Association, in concert with our legislation in Saskatchewan." He continued "There's not a lot of extensive research in this issue, and let's be fair, doctors have prescribed the use of cannabis in Canada for glaucoma." Who knows, maybe SGI even read the 1994 study by Holland's Institute for Human Psychopharmacology, which, after comprehensive on-road driving tests, concluded that "THC's adverse effects on driving performance appeared relatively small," and that "users seem able to compensate for its adverse effects." This confirmed a massive 1992 study by the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which concluded that marijuana is rarely involved in driving accidents except when combined with alcohol, and that "there was no indication that marijuana by itself was a cause of fatal accidents." Bianca Sind
REGINA - Marijuana activist Grant Krieger was given an 18-month suspended sentence Tuesday for drug trafficking. Krieger, 44, said no sentence will change his ways. Krieger says he smokes pot to ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and plans to keep smoking during his probation. He also intends to keep selling marijuana to others for medicinal purposes. Krieger pleaded guilty last month to possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking. He was convicted of a similar charge in Alberta last year and fined $500. Justice Fred Kovach said he chose not to send Krieger to jail because he truly believes he needs marijuana. Kovach said it wasn't his job to debate whether marijuana has medicinal qualities and had to consider the "exceptional or extraordinary circumstances" in the case.