By Alfa · May 12, 2005 ·
  1. Alfa

    Medical Marijuana User Faces Drug Rap In 'Misunderstanding' Over Grow Permit

    A Kemptville woman who smokes five grams of pot a day for pain relief says she's facing a charge of growing the drug because of a simple misunderstanding. But Health Canada and police say the rules are

    clear: A licence to possess medical marijuana isn't permission to set up your own grow op. Licenced users need to apply for a special permit to grow their own.

    Margaret Harrington, who says she spends much of her time in a wheelchair, was charged with production of pot Friday.

    An OPP officer, at her home for another matter, sniffed out her 10 plants. The mother of two will be in court May 4.

    "I thought everything was fine when I got my card," said Harrington, 50. "I put a few plants in the ground and they came and arrested me. I had a licence for possession, I didn't have a licence for cultivation.

    "I thought I had applied for it when I was doing the original paperwork. It was a complete misunderstanding on my part."

    Harrison says she broke both her legs in a skydiving accident a decade ago and suffers from chronic pain, headaches, fibromyalgia and a bladder disorder.

    She's been legally smoking pot since January, but says she's been toking for years because it kills her pain without making her sick, unlike powerful painkillers such as morphine.

    "I've been in pain for 10 years," she said. "It helps me."

    Grenville OPP Const. Cathy Lindsey can't remember cultivation charges ever being laid against a licenced user, but says it was a clear-cut case for investigators.


    "She does have the paperwork stating she's allowed to possess marijuana but just because you can possess it doesn't mean you can grow it," Lindsey said, noting that Harrington confirmed to officers that she didn't have a grow permit.

    "She didn't say she lost it or couldn't find it."

    The rules are made clear to users, Health Canada spokesman Christopher Williams said. People who get a licence to possess pot from the Office of Cannabis Medical Access and the separate licences to grow it have the terms spelled out on the ID card they're issued.

    "The instructions are clear, the rules are clear," Williams said.

    "It's clear to anyone who wants to look. If they're in contravention of what their exemption states, they're breaking the law."

    To possess pot legally, users must have a doctor attest that they're dying, have illnesses such as multiple sclerosis or AIDS or symptoms of a serious condition for which conventional drugs haven't worked.

    Users can apply to grow pot themselves, designate someone else to produce it for them or buy it for $5 a gram from Health Canada.

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