Lawbreaker Says Compassion First
Windsor Star (CN ON)
Monday, April 16, 2001
Group Distributes Medical Pot
He calls himself Da Weed King, but Fred Pritchard is no ordinary pothead.
Pritchard wants to supply those suffering from chronic debilitating illnesses to have free access to medical-grade marijuana — his marijuana – — and is willing to flout the law to do so.
“My goal is to get marijuana to sick and ailing people,” Pritchard, 33, told The Windsor Star.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m not breaking any laws.”
Pritchard started a Windsor chapter of the Marijuana Compassion Club, a group well established in larger Canadian cities like Vancouver and Toronto.
The club sells marijuana to members with a doctor’s recommendation who fall under Section 56 of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, which allows use of the drug as a treatment for ailments including AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, migraines and arthritis.
The only way Pritchard can get his dope to his clients is to mail it. He said he has four regular patients on his mailing list, but none in Windsor – — yet.
“I’ve only been doing this since November, so word hasn’t really gotten out yet,” Pritchard said. “I would love to have some local clients.”
The Windsor chapter is starting to garner interest. Pritchard’s Web site, which provides detailed information about marijuana legislation, a how-to guide on how to get medical pot from the Windsor Compassion Club and even medical forms and doctor’s release notes, gets 70,000 hits a month, he said.
Pritchard, who suffers no illness himself, said he got involved in the Compassion Club out of his interest in legalizing marijuana. Born in Kitchener, Pritchard moved to Windsor 12 years ago addicted to crack cocaine. He says he cleaned up at Brentwood and has not touched hard drugs since. He said he’s had a few brushes with the law, including a prison term for trafficking hash oil from Jamaica.
Pritchard is vague about where he gets his stuff to provide for the Compassion Club, but says if a client needs marijuana, he will provide it. Asked if he grows it himself, Pritchard would neitherconfirm nor deny.
“If someone needs medical marijuana I’ll get it for them,” he said.
Pritchard did say, however, that he would feel comfortable, legally, with fewer than 10 plants in the house.
So what is Pritchard’s motivation for providing medical marijuana? Business, he says. Ottawa passed legislation last week for a government-regulated system that would allow the use of medical marijuana under strict provisions. Every patient wishing to use medical pot would have to either grow it or designate another person to grow it for him or her. A designated grower would not be allowed to supply more than three patients. Compassion clubs are not allowed under the new proposal and their operation remains illegal.
But Pritchard is thinking on an industrial scale. He says the current legislation is limiting and unfair.
“I’d like to set up a greenhouse in Leamington,” Pritchard said. “We could grow pot like tomatoes.”
The police generally turn a blind eye to compassion clubs, but occasionally make a high-profile bust that splashes across the headlines. Pritchard said he isn’t worried about the police.
“No one has hassled me yet,” he said.
But pot activist Terry Parker of Toronto wishes Pritchard would maintain a lower profile.
“I don’t know what good could come out of this,” Parker said. “I think he’s making a bit too much noise about it.”