Victoria woman's chronic pain relieved by cannabis cookies, court told
Jan 26 2012
A Victoria woman who suffers from chronic pain told a court Wednesday that her family doctor refused to help her obtain approval from Health Canada to use medical marijuana.
"She was against it. She said 'I don't want to be a drug dealer,'" Sandra Large testified from her wheelchair at Owen Edward Smith's trafficking trial in B.C. Supreme Court.
"It made me angry. I think a doctor's purpose is to help patients."
Smith, 29, the head baker for the Cannabis Buyers' Club of Canada, has launched a constitutional challenge against Health Canada's medical-marijuana access regulations.
He was charged on Dec. 3, 2009, with possession for the purpose of trafficking THC and unlawful possession of marijuana after the manager of an apartment building complained to police about a strong smell wafting through the building. Police obtained a search warrant and discovered that the suite was being used as a bakery. Officers recovered substantial quantities of cannabis-infused olive and grapeseed oil, as well as pot cookies, destined for sale through the club.
Large, who has been a member of the club for at least five years, testified that her doctor tried to push pharmaceutical drugs on her.
Large told Justice Robert Johnston that she was badly injured in a motorcycle accident and suffered a debilitating stroke in 1995. She also has epilepsy, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis and fibromyalgia, which makes her feel like her joints are locked.
Large experiences tremendous pain from migraine headaches and developed congenital heart failure. She also had cancer.
"That club is something I truly believe in," Large testified. "If it wasn't for the cookies and lozenges, I don't think I would have any pain relief."
Large eats a cannabis cookie every day and described the cannabis-infused lozenges as "phenomenal."
After two pharmaceutical prescriptions from a dentist failed to heal an abscess in her mouth, she put a lozenge directly on the sore and it disappeared by the next day, she testified.
Defence lawyer Kirk Tousaw asked her to describe the relief she gets from eating the pot cookies.
"It almost takes away the fibromyalgia completely," Large said. "It reduces the headaches . . . It makes all the pain go away and that is very important to me."
When she is pain free, she can leave the house and socialize, something she was not able to do for years, said Large.
Smoking cannabis also appears to prevent epileptic seizures, she testified.
"As long as I have a joint, I know I'm not going to have a seizure that day."
Large's family doctor said she could not condone the use of marijuana and was concerned about mixing it up with the number of medications she already takes, Large recalled.
"But if something is going to relieve pain and stress, I'm going to continue using it," said Large, who testified that she had never had any adverse side-effects.
Federal prosecutor Kristina Guest asked Large if there were the medical risks from taking cannabis.
"There are no medical risks that I'm aware of," Large replied.
Large said she was given an orientation to the club by a staff member who goes by the nickname Spud. He did not tell her if he had any medical or pharmaceutical training, she testified.
Large recalled that she took her medical history to the club. She was not asked if she suffered from heart, liver or kidney disease, or if she, or anyone in her family, suffers from schizophrenia or bipolar disease.
She was asked if she suffered from depression and was warned her about mixing cannabis and alcohol, Large said.