MARIJUANA MAVERICK SAYS IT'S ABOUT RIGHTS
'I Love My Country. It's Getting Less And Less Free And It's Scary,' Says Rick Reimer
With another day in the spotlight over, Rick Reimer says he's not about to lie down.
Two weeks ago a civil suit, launched by Reimer, was thrown out of court with Ottawa Justice C. McKinnon saying that Reimer "was the author of his own misfortune."
Reimer claims he has everyone's interests in mind.
"It's not publicity," says Reimer, who's been lighting up joints on a daily basis since he was 13. "What I want to do is to make sure people stand up for their right."
With tears filling his eyes, he adds, "I love my county; it's getting less and less free all the time and it's very scary."
The suit claimed that two Killaloe OPP officers and a Crown attorney wrongfully arrested and detained Reimer. It also cited excessive use of force.
Reimer was detained because he lit a joint on the courthouse steps during a television interview and refused to show his medical exemption.
An OPP officer approached Reimer and asked to see his exemption card; when Reimer refused he was apprehended.
Reimer was at court in Killaloe over an impaired driving charge, of which he was later acquitted because it couldn't be proven that marijuana impaired his driving.
Justice McKinnon threw the civil suit out, claiming there was no evidence to prove excessive use of force or wrongful arrest other than Reimer's oral testimony.
In his written decision Justice McKinnon said, "It defies logic to suggest that an individual who is granted a ministerial exemption from the law of the country, which exemption is granted in writing, should not be required to produce the written document on demand to prove the exemption."
Sitting in his solar-energy run home Reimer grows upset as he speaks of the suit. He says there is a catch-22 in the law, which does not require him to provide the documentation.
"There's no law saying you have to carry this exemption with you. I knew these laws as they were being created, not afterwards."
He adds, "Just because a judge is a judge doesn't mean he has more knowledge than a lawyer on every law. This is an issue," he says, as his voice grows more choked, "I live this issue, I was one of the first people to get an exemption because I was a lawyer and I knew what buttons to push.
"I still haven't had a chance to talk with my lawyer about an appeal," he adds.
Tucked away on 272 acres somewhere in the environs of Killaloe, Reimer could keep out of trouble with the law.
He chooses not to. He makes a conscious decision to go face to face with the law when in comes to issues like legalizing marijuana.
"I have an obligation to society, and to all our children, to try to get people to deal with it honestly I could keep to myself, I have my exemption to grow and smoke marijuana. I live way back in the woods, but that would be failing other people that I can help, especially the kids."
Why kids? Reimer says children need to know about marijuana.
"Children, yes, must know about marijuana and if you hide things like marijuana from them they find them anyways. And they'll find marijuana and smoke it and say 'Hey, it's not that bad' and then maybe they'll try crystal-meth."
He says marijuana has a bad reputation, but it shouldn't.
"This is a plant that has an incredible number of beneficial uses and, I would say, debatably, two harms: you're ingesting smoke and people say we should never alter our perspective of reality. Then we'll say we shouldn't drink coffee or smoke cigarettes. But no one's ever died because of an overdose of marijuana," he adds. "We live in a society where people want to have mind altering substances. Let's treat them according to dangers and not old wives' tales, no disrespect to old wives, mind you."
Reimer was one of the first people in Canada to get a legal exemption to grow and smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes. In 2000 he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
From 1979, Reimer worked as a lawyer in Pembroke but retired when he was diagnosed with MS.
He was at the forefront on the issue of medical marijuana exemption because he had been an open user of marijuana for some years, with his practice focusing primarily on cases dealing with the legalization of marijuana.
"I've always been fairly open about my pot smoking, I declared myself publicly in '98. I came out in the open saying, 'I'm an illegal pot smoker' before I found out I had MS," Reimer says. "I practised mainly criminal defence work, but as my practice progressed during the 90s, and when I proclaimed myself as a pot smoker, my practice focused more and more on drug law."
Reimer has an eight-month-old daughter, Louetta May, with his partner Tammy Lewis. He says when the time comes he will speak openly with his daughter about marijuana.
"Even before she asks she'll learn through osmosis from Tammy and me ( about marijuana ). When she's old enough, depending on the child, it might be 13, might be 16 ( we'll have to decide when we reach that point ), I'll speak to her honestly that when she's ready to try it, I'll make sure she does so safely." Reimer says a big concern for him is children trying the drug away from the safety of home, somewhere where they could get spooked.
"It would be better to be at home with their parents than in the back alley behind the high school," he adds.
Reimer has two sons in their mid-20s from a previous marriage. When they were in their teens he spoke frankly with them about his recreational use of the demon-weed. "I tried to have that conversation with them about marijuana. They did what most teenagers do, they denied, denied, despite how open I was about it."
The 52-year-old self-described social activist uses a special machine to smoke weed in his house. The machine releases the THC in the plant, the part that gets people 'high', and doesn't create any smoke. The THC is released into a plastic bag-contraption, which expands as a foggy looking air blows into it. Reimer then hooks a mouthpiece on to the plastic bag and inhales the fumes.
Marijuana is the only thing Reimer uses to treat his MS. "The conventional medications are steroids basically; they're more to slow the progression. I know what my body can and can't do, I don't want to take meds to change that."
Reimer says the marijuana helps in different ways, depending on the day.
"It's so personal from one person to the next, from each day to the next. On a day when I'm very emotional it might calm me down or cheer me up. On days when I get nausea it's the only thing that alleviates it," Reimer says, his face full of emotion. "Thank God, touch wood, I don't get very much pain, but when I do, marijuana helps that."