RCMP Seizes Medical Pot User's Plants

July 23, 2007

Glenn Kauth, Edmonton Sun

An Evansburg man who takes pot for his pain fears he's about to get sicker after police seized his weed yesterday.

Steve Chorney, 39, has been on painkillers for years, but over time they've started to damage his liver.

As an alternative, he started smoking pot under Health Canada's medical-marijuana program, but yesterday's police raid at his farm means he'll have to go back on his other pain medication.

"If I don't get off these pills, I'm going to die," he said.

The RCMP, meanwhile, says Chorney was growing the plants illegally.

"According to Health Canada, there is no licence in place for this individual," said Cpl. James House of the Evans- burg RCMP.

Chorney, though, said he was in the midst of getting his licence renewed in order to move his plants outdoors.

After applying to Health Canada in late winter, he was asked last month for another form.

He admits the licence had expired but said he had advice from Health Canada officials to keep growing the pot in the meantime and to call them if he had problems with police.

"I tried showing the paperwork (to police), and they threatened to arrest me," said Chorney.

House said he has sympathy for Chorney, who has suffered leg pain for years from complications following a misdiagnosis for multiple sclerosis. But, he added, "you have to follow the rules."

Chorney suspects the raid was part of what he calls a crackdown by police on the medical-marijuana program.

Kirk Tousaw, a Vancouver lawyer who acts for medical-marijuana users, said he knows of cases in which police have waited for pot licences to expire in order to launch raids.

Tousaw added users are increasingly in limbo as the process to renew licences gets more complicated.

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