WINNIPEG — A Manitoba judge has cut a major break to a medical marijuana crusader found guilty of trafficking pot across Canada.
Grant Krieger received a suspended sentence with nine months of probation Monday — a far cry from the jail sentence he feared he might receive and predicted would kill him.
“Mr. Krieger is not like most of the drug offenders we sentence in this court,” said Queen’s Bench Justice Shawn Greenberg. “While Mr. Krieger’s actions were illegal, many, perhaps most, would say they are not immoral. Indeed he has no real victims.”
Krieger, 54, was convicted last year of possession for the purpose of trafficking following a high-profile trial that made headlines across Canada. The Calgary resident has been battling progressive multiple sclerosis since 1978 and said his only relief comes from smoking and ingesting cannabis.
Krieger said his many customers are in a similar position — they are suffering from chronic pain, disease and even terminal illness and have come to him looking to improve their quality of life. He admits selling pot to dozens of people across Canada, but insisted there is a major difference between him and the garden-variety drug dealer.
He sought to be acquitted on sympathetic grounds, but jurors took only about 30 minutes to reach their unanimous guilty verdict.
Krieger testified in his own defence about how his life was in a rapid downward spiral and even included a suicide attempt prior to discovering the magic of marijuana: “Without it, I wouldn’t be standing here before you today. I’d be in a wheelchair or dead right now.”
Greenberg agreed in her sentencing decision.
“Mr. Krieger provided people with marijuana only where he was satisfied they suffered from a serious illness such as cancer. For example, he once turned down a person who sought his assistance for a broken arm,” the judge said Monday. “While he might be considered reckless by effectively ‘playing doctor,’ there is no evidence that he caused anyone any harm.”
The Crown argued Krieger had clearance to possess pot for his own health reasons, but didn’t have permission from the federal government to sell marijuana for medicinal reasons.
By Mike McIntyre