Source: Toronto Sun
Pubdate: Thursday, August 6, 1998
Author: Sam Pazanno, Sun Media Newspapers

TORONTO --  A Toronto AIDS patient and activist fought in court yesterday for his right to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

James Wakeford, 53, also asked Mr. Justice Harry LaForme to order Ottawa to establish a program to supply uncontaminated marijuana for AIDS patients.

Wakeford's lawyer, Alan Young, argued that marijuana "lifts the spirits and for a terminal patient, that isn't a bad thing."

"I'm not a pothead. I only smoke before dinner," Young quoted Wakeford as saying.

Wakeford, creator of Casey House Foundation, was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1989 and has had AIDS since 1993.

He smoked marijuana to combat the "unbearable nausea" and weight and appetite loss triggered by anti-AIDS medication, said Young.

"The greatest danger to Mr. Wakeford (last month) was starvation," Young quoted Wakeford's doctor, John Goodhew, as saying.

Wakeford credited his increased appetite and weight gain to pot smoking.

Many prominent Canadians and Americans praised marijuana for reducing nausea caused by cancer treatments.

The list of endorsers included Toronto lawyer Tim Danson (who has quit smoking since beating cancer in 1981), best-selling author Peter McWilliams and Harvard geology professor Stephen J. Gould.

"The politicians just wish I'd die and go away," Wakeford said in an interview.

"I'm doing this for AIDS patients who live on fixed incomes and cannot afford the relief.

Government lawyer Chris Amerasinghe argued that Wakeford's application should be dismissed since he stopped taking AIDS medications in May.

"His evidence is that he feels wonderful (and) no longer suffers nausea," said Amerasinghe.

The hearing continues today.

Copyright (c) 1998 The London Free Press


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