Pubdate: Thu, 29 Nov 2012
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2012 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Nicole O'Reilly


Couple Accused of Endorsing Bogus Files for Medical Marijuana Say 
They Don't Know Gravelle

A Bancroft area doctor facing numerous charges for allegedly 
falsifying medical marijuana documents is connected to an ongoing 
police probe into a notorious Hamilton criminal organization.

The RCMP say kingpin Andre Gravelle, 48, is the subject of the 
investigation. Police passed information to his parole officer, which 
led to Gravelle's parole being suspended last week. He remains in 
jail awaiting word from his parole officer or for a Parole Board of 
Canada hearing.

RCMP have not laid any charges in relation to the Hamilton investigation.

Dr. Robert Kamermans and his wife, Mary Kamermans, who run a family 
practice out of Coe Hill, Ont., are accused of endorsing fraudulent 
requests for medical marijuana licences in Ontario, Nova Scotia, New 
Brunswick, Quebec and British Columbia from January 2011 to April 
2012. They were arrested by Ontario Provincial Police in August as 
part of a joint OPP-RCMP investigation.

Reached at the family practice by phone Wednesday, Mary Kamermans 
said they signed medical marijuana endorsements for some people named 
Gravelle, but added they didn't recognize the name.

"They didn't come in with a sign on them and because we're not in 
criminal circles, we didn't know their name," she said, adding 
although they have family in Hamilton, the couple hasn't lived in 
this city for 40 years.

Robert Kamermans faces additional charges of attempted drug 
trafficking in Nova Scotia and fraud, forgery, possession of property 
obtained by crime and laundering proceeds of crime.

"We're in our 60s, we didn't decide to become criminals, we decided 
to help people. Just by chance somebody asked us to help them, and we 
did," Mary Kamermans said.

"The need is just amazing and no doctors here sign anything."

She added they don't conduct background checks on their patients and 
ultimately it's up to Health Canada to approve a licence.

"If they got signed, it wasn't because they gave us money and we 
signed the papers."

The Kamermans are out on bail and Dr. Kamermans has hearing dates 
before the disciplinary committee of the Ontario College of 
Physicians and Surgeons in February and March.

Gravelle's lawyer, Dennis Morris, said his client does not have a 
medical marijuana licence. He said neither he nor Gravelle has 
received any information about the RCMP investigation or parole issue.

However, Morris said other clients of his - whom he did not name and 
declined to say how they are connected to Gravelle - do have licences 
and were the subjects of RCMP search warrants this month.

He said police seized the legitimate marijuana, but have not laid any charges.

Gravelle is serving a sentence of three years and 10 months for 
conspiracy to import hash oil and conspiracy to possess hash oil for 
the purpose of trafficking stemming from a $15-million, international 
hash oil smuggling ring busted in Nova Scotia in September 2008.

He was released on parole in November 2010. His sentence ends Feb. 13, 2014.

According to the Parole Board of Canada decision document, Gravelle 
must report financial transactions to his parole supervisor and not 
associate with any person known to be involved in criminal activity, 
including the "drug subculture."

Gravelle once faced first-degree murder charges in the shotgun 
killings of lawyer Lynn Gilbank and her husband, Fred, 14 years ago. 
The charges were withdrawn because the Crown believed there was no 
reasonable prospect of a conviction.

The murders remain unsolved and Gravelle has filed a lawsuit against 
Hamilton police.

According to Health Canada, there are three types of medical 
marijuana licences - authorization to possess, personal-use 
production (can only produce for yourself), and designated-person 
production (can produce for someone authorized to possess).

The licences to possess marijuana or grow marijuana for yourself 
require a medical declaration by a doctor. Doctors are supposed to 
ensure patients have severe pain or other problems from multiple 
sclerosis, HIV, cancer, anorexia or epilepsy. Or patients must have 
debilitating symptoms that cannot or should not be treated by a 
conventional treatment.

Someone with a recent criminal record for drug activity cannot get a 
licence to grow for someone else. Health Canada has 15 inspectors 
across Canada and uses a "risk-based inspection program," said 
spokesperson Stephane Shank.

He noted the government is "very concerned that the current (program) 
is open to abuse and exploitation by criminal elements."

This is why Health Canada has proposed changes - the main one will be 
to eliminate personal production in favour of licensed commercial 
producers who would be inspected and audited by Health Canada.
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