Pubdate: Thu, 20 Jun 2002
Source: Daily Breeze (CA)
Copyright: 2002 The Copley Press Inc.
Author: Tom Elias


As federal officials and some California prosecutors repeatedly flout or 
ignore the state's 1996 law legalizing medical use of marijuana, dozens and 
perhaps hundreds who claim they depend on the weed for pain relief and even 
survival are taking flight. Like Vietnam-era draft dodgers, their usual 
destination is Canada.

Medipot activists thought they had won the right to use their drug of 
choice without harassment when voters handily passed Proposition 215 six 
years ago, with its provisions for legal marijuana use upon the 
'recommendation' of a doctor.

But over the past three years, federal narcotics officers and some local 
officials have staged multiple raids on medical marijuana users clubs and 
suppliers in Alameda, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sonoma counties, plus 
the homes of some prominent users.

Medical pot smokers began to feel the chill. Many now are drawn northward 
by a year-old Canadian government policy allowing users a specified amount 
of marijuana if they can demonstrate a medical necessity and then get 
permits from local authorities.

So-called 'compassion clubs' of pot users say the number of medipot 
refugees probably is in the hundreds, and growing, with most coming from 
California. 'We have several here and we're just a small town,' said an 
officer of the Sunshine Coast Compassion Club in Sechelt, B.C., an isolated 
town of 18,000.
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