Pubdate: Sat, 04 Sep 2010
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2010 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Irwin Block
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Compassion Clubs Facing Charges After June Raids

About 25 people, including 10 arrested in police raids in June at 
four Montreal compassion clubs that bill themselves as medical 
marijuana distribution centres, milled about the Montreal courthouse 
corridors yesterday discussing the risks in providing pot to manage pain.

Those arrested, including another group in Quebec City, face charges 
of possession with intent to traffic, trafficking, and conspiracy.

They learned that court hearings are to resume Oct. 4 for those 
connected to the outlet on Papineau St. and another in Plateau Mont 
Royal. The Crown is expected to disclose its evidence to defence lawyers then.

Among those arrested was Marc-Boris St-Maurice, founder of the 
federal Marijuana Party, who pointed to what he considers the irony 
of current laws -it is illegal to sell pot, but it has been allowed 
in Canada for medical use for almost a decade.

At the Plateau Compassion Clubs, a diagnosis from a doctor that you 
suffer from pain, muscle spasms, nausea, weight loss and/or loss of 
appetite would qualify for membership.

After several years of tolerance by police, St-Maurice blamed 
controversy over the Culture 420 Compassion Club on 15th Ave. in 
Lachine for "causing certain waves" and "we got painted with the same brush."

"We're sort of collateral damage in this," in spite of developing "a 
great reputation" in a decade of operations, St-Maurice added.

The crackdown means people who need pot as an analgesic now depend on 
the black market, or Health Canada, for their drug supplies.

Gilbert Higgins, who is HIV positive, said he needs marijuana 
occasionally for pain-reduction and considers his condition is 
sufficient to qualify for compassionate pot use.

"When I have pain and feel like vomiting, it stops immediately when I 
smoke marijuana," he said in the court corridor.

Wearing a button with a diagonal line through the word pain, Eugene 
Feig of Laval explained he could not get relief from the usual 
analgesics for acute pain to his spinal cord following an accident in 1997.

He carries a card from Health Canada authorizing him to possess the drug.

Feig said he understands why police felt the need to act, saying some 
people "out of compassion were not as vigilant as they should have 
been and they ruined it for everybody."

The answer is for Health Canada to get more involved in "every step 
in the chain."
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