REGINA - An inmate at Regina's jail says the federal government has given him permission to use medicinal marijuana to combat chronic pain - but the Saskatchewan government won't allow him to smoke pot behind bars.
Dean Samborski, 52, said he has a licence from Health Canada to smoke medicinal marijuana. However, while serving time in the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre for theft under $5,000, he has not been allowed to use marijuana.
"(They say) it is an illegal drug or substance. But I've been OK'd to smoke it, so why is it illegal?" asked Samborski.
He said the marijuana is needed for pain management for injuries he suffered in a motorcycle accident in 1976. Instead of marijuana, he has been given Tylenol, Motrin and anti-inflammatories - but they doesn't provide any relief for the pain, he said.
"On my left side, I'm hemiparaplegic and my left knee hyperextends so my left knee hurts from walking. On my back, I've got a bad lower back because it twisted in the accident. I'm always in pain and they won't give me nothing for it," he said.
Samborski was issued the licence to utilize medicinal marijuana in August by Health Canada.
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing has confirmed Samborski has the licence and is the only inmate in a provincial correctional facility with such a licence.
However, ministry spokeswoman Judy Orthner said she could not speak specifically to his case.
Speaking generally, she said the ministry does not have a policy against the use of medicinal marijuana in correctional facilities but follows the guidelines set out by the Saskatchewan Medical Association, which recommends physicians not participate in the dispensing of marijuana.
The ministry has a contract with a physician who provides the medication orders for inmates while they're in custody.
"The medication order may be quite different from the medication order that the offender may have gotten from a different physician, from a physician outside in the community," said Orthner.
The department is in discussions with the provincial Ministry of Health to develop a policy around the possible use of medicinal marijuana in provincial correctional facilities, but Orthner could not say when the policy would be completed.
Veronica Rhodes , Canwest News Service
Published: Tuesday, November 04, 2008
© Regina Leader-Post 2008