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Pot smoker on solo 4/20 mission
Medicinal marijuana user promotes benefits of weed with sign on Franklin Avenue

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kim MacNearney is on a mission to let people know about the benefits of medical marijuana.

NNSL photo/graphic

Yellowknife resident Kim MacNearney was on Franklin Avenue Friday with a sign to draw attention to the benefits of medical marijuana. - Kevin Allerston/NNSL photo

Since 2010 she has been legally licensed to smoke pot to help her deal with debilitating back pain, the result of two compressed discs in her spine.

On Friday, she decided to make her views about marijuana known to the public and headed to Franklin Avenue with a sign reading "Marijuana is a plant, not a poison" on one side and "cannabis cures, not kills" on the other.

"As far as I'm concerned, marijuana is a plant, not a poison and I feel the whole regime against marijuana has to be re-evaluated," said MacNearney.

She said she chose that day to go out with her sign because the night before she received a renewal of her licence from Health Canada effective April 20, or 4/20.

"4:20 p.m. was apparently a time of the day when university students used to go smoke in the '70s or something like that," said MacNearney. "Since then, 4/20 has become synonymous with marijuana culture ... so it just seemed perfect to be able to come out today."

MacNearney, 35, said she has had back problems her whole life, the result of two compressed discs in her spine which cause her such pain that she can't function or play with her kids.

"It enables me to function without pain," said MacNearney. "There was a time in my life when my back and my hips were so sore that my kids used to walk around the house with their hands on their hips going, 'Oh, my back,' imitating me."

Treating her back pain is complicated by the fact that MacNearney suffers from chemical allergies that make her sick when she tries to take conventional medicine for her back pain such as Tylenol 4. That's why she said she turned to marijuana.

Under Health Canada's Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, MacNearney is allowed to smoke marijuana and posses up to 120 grams of it at any given time, enough to last her several months. She obtains her marijuana from a clinic in B.C.

NWT residents, as with anyone in Canada, who want marijuana for medical purposes must apply in writing to Health Canada and must provide a declaration from a medical practitioner to support the application.

According to the Health Canada website, a person can apply for a medical marijuana licence if they have debilitating symptoms of a medical condition or require it in the context of compassionate end-of-life care. Applications are available on the Health Canada website.

As for reaction to MacNearney's mini-protest, she said it was mostly positive.

"I feel like the lone person with the end-of-the-world sign in those movies, but I'm getting a lot of good feedback. People are coming to me and taking pictures, people are honking their horns," said MacNearney. "There were a couple of negative responses ... some guy just made a grumble saying to watch my sign and some lady kind of huffed under her breath, and I'm sure she rolled her eyes."

She said she was OK with the few negative responses she received, because it meant that people read her sign and will perhaps spend time considering the subject.

MacNearney said she would ultimately like to see marijuana legalized.

"So many lives have been ruined in this war on drugs," she said.

While outside near the Arthur Laing Building MacNearney spoke with passerby John Beatson.

"I think what she is doing is good and I really think it's something that needs to be done," said Beatson. He said he too smokes pot to help with chronic lower back pain from two herniated discs, although he does not have a medical marijuana licence.

"Smoking marijuana makes a huge difference. It's the difference between being functional and non-functional," said Beatson.

He said he knows it is illegal, but isn't worried. "If they're going to mess with me for doing something that works, I'll face that when it comes," he said.

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