Pubdate: Thu, 24 May 2007
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Times Colonist
Author: Richard Watts, Times Colonist
Cited: Vancouver Island Compassion Society
Bookmark: (Vancouver Island Compassion Society)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal - Canada)


MP, Senator Offer to Help Islander's Medical Marijuana Court Case

Philippe Lucas, founder of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, 
is flying high.

As a supplier of medical marijuana and political activist bent on 
reforming Canada's pot laws, Lucas has a supportive MP in Vancouver 
East New Democrat Libby Davies.

He has what he called "an interested and engaged judge" in Justice 
Robert Edwards, now hearing the society's Charter of Rights challenge 
arising from a raid on the compassion society's grow-operation near 
Sooke. And he has a Tory Senator, Pierre Claude Nolin, to testify for 
the society when the trial resumes on June 11.

Lucas also has word from Davies that Canada's Auditor General Sheila 
Fraser has begun the preliminary stages of checking into certain user 
fees attached to Canada's current medical marijuana program.

Last week wrapped up eight days of testimony in the trial of Michael 
Swallow, 41, and Mat Beren, 32, both facing charges of possession for 
the purpose of trafficking and production of marijuana.

Swallow and Beren were arrested in May 2004 when West Shore RCMP 
raided a house near Sooke used by the Vancouver Island Compassion 
Society to grow marijuana.

The society is one of two organizations in Victoria, and others 
worldwide, commonly called compassion clubs. These operations supply 
marijuana for use as medicine to people who show proof of a 
longstanding incurable medical condition such as HIV/AIDS or 
Parkinson's disease.

In Swallow's and Beren's case, the group intends with its charter 
challenge to show the Health Canada regulations force people legally 
entitled to use marijuana as medicine onto the black market to buy 
it. And that interferes with their right to security of person.

Lucas has hepatitis C and has Health Canada permission to grow and 
possess marijuana. But he has said in interviews and in court that he 
found it nearly impossible to comply with Health Canada regulations.

Lucas said regulations required signatures from two medical 
specialists, and he had to fill out a 33-page application.

"It was nearly impossible for me to comply," said Lucas in court. 
"I'm not sure what somebody in a smaller community would do."

Meanwhile, Davies said yesterday she would like to see the auditor 
general take a close look at Health Canada's medical marijuana 
regulations. The MP said she believes the federal government is only 
satisfying previous court rulings that have called it 
unconstitutional to prevent sick people from resorting to marijuana 
as medicine.

Government is complying, said Davies, but only just, and only reluctantly.

"It's like the government doesn't really want it to work," she said. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake