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By Hempology | June 1, 2005

A Trail man is one step closer to having his case of alleged discrimination heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. “This is very positive,” said Dennis Lillico from his East Trail home. “This isn’t just about me anymore. The B.C. Compassion Club has over 1,000 very sick people who are trying to get federal exemption to grow their own medicinal marijuana.”

Lillico got the news this month that while his case against two local physicians – Dr. T.H. Hii and Dr. Michael Scully – had been dismissed, his case against the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons will proceed to a hearing.

“All three doctors have treated me, and all three have refused to prescribe me marijuana,” Lillico said. “I feel I have been discriminated against because they have acknowledged that smoking cannabis does help with my pain and movement.”

Lillico, 38, suffers from a very rare neurological disorder known as familial autosomal dominant myoclonic dystonia. The condition is severely disabling and causes seizure-like symptoms along with intense pain.

“I’ve tried many different medications,” he said. “And the only medicine that gives me relief is marijuana.”

Lillico said one of the reasons he can’t get a doctor to prescribe marijuana is because of his past history with cocaine and alcohol abuse. Both substances, he insists he has not used for many years.

Under the federal government’s marijuana medical access regulation, people can be authorized to grow, possess and use marijuana for medical purposes, but first they must apply to the Minister of Health for authorization. This application for authorization must be supported by a medical declaration.

That’s the reason Lillico says he asked his physicians for support.

“But they saw me as an addict,” he said. “That’s why they refused to prescribe marijuana for me. That is discrimination.”

Dr. Spacey, although acknowledging using marijuana might be beneficial for his well being, said she wouldn’t prescribe it “because she was concerned about liability,” Lillico said. “She also said she did not recommend it because of my past history with substance abuse.”

Dr. Hii also refused to prescribe cannabis, “because he said he didn’t know how it worked with my other medications.”

And Dr. Scully, although writing a letter of support for Lillico, said he couldn’t prescribe it because “he didn’t feel comfortable doing so.”

Both Dr. Hii and Dr. Scully denied in the Human Rights preliminary hearing that Lillico’s past history of alcohol abuse and cocaine use were a factor in their refusal to provide a prescription. The complaints against them were dismissed.

However, the complaint against Dr. Spacey, a neurogeneticist at the UBC Neurogenetics Clinic, will proceed to the 2005 hearing, along with the case Lillico has made against the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“( The college ) sent out a position statement discouraging physicians from prescribing marijuana to their patients.” Lillico explained. “How is someone like me suppose to gain access to medical marijuana if the college tells their doctors not to prescribe it?”

Without access to medicinal marijuana, Lillico says he has to buy it illegally.

“I can’t grow it because of my house insurance,” he said. “On two occasions when I have tried to grow it, the police have raided my house and taken my plants away.”

But while Lillico is encouraged that his case will go before the Human Rights Tribunal, right now he can’t find a doctor.

“I have no general practitioner working on my behalf. When my name pops up, red lights flash and the wrong impression forms. So many doctors have turned me down, it’s not even funny.”

But he added, “They haven’t quite made me a second-class citizen yet. I can still go to the emergency at the hospital, if I have to.”

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