Source: Halifax Daily News (Canada)
Pubdate: Friday 07 Aug 1998

TORONTO (CP) - The laws banning marijuana don't violate the Charter rights of a man who wants to smoke pot for medicinal purposes, the Crown argued yesterday.

Lawyer Chris Amerasinghe says there are many legal medications Jim Wakeford didn't try.

Wakeford, 53, was diagnosed with AIDS in 1993. He applied for an exemption to the marijuana laws so he can use pot to ease nausea caused by the disease and by the mixture of drugs he uses to control it.

He says the law violates his Charter rights to life, liberty and security, and also discriminates against him on the basis of his disability. Wakeford argues not only should he be allowed to smoke marijuana, the government should make sure there is a clean, safe supply of pot for medicinal purposes.

Over the last few months lawyers have gathered evidence and held about 10 days of hearings. Yesterday, they wrapped up two days of final arguments.

Amerasinghe said there are any number of anti-nausea drugs on the market - including Marinol, which contains synthetic TCH, the active ingredient in marijuana - but Wakeford hasn't given any of them an honest try.

"He took one dose one day," Amerasinghe said of Wakeford's experience with Marinol.

Wakeford had testified that far from controlling his chronic nausea,his one dose of Marinol made it even worse for about seven hours.

Amerasinghe also disagreed with Wakeford's argument that he's being discriminated on the basis of disability.

"There is no group in Canada that's permitted to possess marijuana. It's a blanket prohibition; it applies to everyone."

The judge has reserved his opinion in the case, but said he'll try to hand down his decision "sooner rather than later."


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