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Newshawk: Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana
Pubdate: Thursday, April 17, 2003
Source: Halifax Herald (CN NS)
Contact: letters@herald.ns.ca
Website: http://www.herald.ns.ca/
Author: Amy Pugsley Fraser

Good news for claiming pot

Ontario user says its possible to claim weed on income tax

An Ontario medical marijuana smoker has some good news for sick Nova Scotians who want to claim their pot as a medical expense on their income tax returns.

"It's not a problem," Alison Myrden said in an interview Wednesday from her Burlington home.

"We've been doing this for the past few years."

The 38-year old former corrections officer was one of the first Canadians to successfully claim the cost of her marijuana as a legitimate medication for her multiple sclerosis.

A Nova Scotia woman told the Herald this week she won't file her tax return this year because Canada Customs and Revenue agency is denying her claim. However, filing returns should be a little easier now for Jane Parker of Lunenburg County.

The key, said Ms, Myrden, is a doctors prescription - the same piece of paper that opened the door to her own smoking permit from Health Canada.

"It has to be prescribed to us by a doctor, otherwise we wouldn't be allowed to have the federal exemption," she said.

Like 800 other Canadians, Ms. Myrden's permit exempts her from prosecution under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

"(The doctors) just write a note saying they prescribe cannabis as medicine," she said.

"Then they sign their name, we photocopy that and send it in with our taxes."

"Exemptees" or "medpot" smokers, also have a few other document requirements, including submitting receipts outlining their "purchases".

A bit of creativity is allowed because most drug sellers aren't willing to identify themselves.

"The dealers obviously won't sign the receipts," Ms. Myrden said with a laugh.

"So we have to sign for the people we are purchasing from."

Users must also submit a copy if their federal exemption card and a note saying the marijuana is an over-the-counter narcotic for medical use only and prescribed by their doctor and Health Canada.

"So its a little bit complicated," she said. "But its worth it."

Ms. Myrden, who uses an accountant to do her taxes, has spent about $14,000.00 annually for the past eight years on medical marijuana. Her permit is to smoke 12 grams a day is one of the highest in the country.

"I eat it, drink it, smoke it," she said.

But she's without the drug right now because she can't afford the $1200.00 a month.

"And I'm so desperate that my neurologist put me on the marijuana pill...which doesn't help at all.

"I take over 32 pills a day when I don't have medical marijuana," she said adding her drugcocktail makes her sleepy and sick.

Besides MS, which she's had since her teens, Ms. Myrden suffers from severe facial pain called tic douloureux, or trigeminal neuralgia.

"It's associated with four percent of people with MS.

"My doctor told me the other day that he can't do anything else for me, there' nothing else out there."

But medical marijuana helps - and one strain in particular.

"When I have this type of marijuana, within 10 minutes the pain in my face is gone for over two hours."

Ms. Myrden is one of nine Canadians suing Ottawa for the right to use the government's experimental marijuana crops being grown in Flin Flon, Man.

"They've been sitting on it for how many years now...and its not fair that we're not allowed access to it."

A Supreme Court decision is expected in July.

"All I need is my medication to be somewhere where I can access it - affordably."

In the meantime, Ms. Myrden says its important to spread the word about marijuana's legitamacy for tax purpose.

"This is so new to the country that not everyone knows how it works.

"We all want to be on the same page at Revenue Canada, we don't want to be doing our own thing to get it on our taxes."

Ms. Parker says she's going to take the advice and send off her tax return.

"I still don't feel good about filing my taxes but I will...and I dare them to disqualify me!" she proclaims.

"Take me to court!"

apugsley@herald.ns.ca



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