Pubdate: Thu, 16 Jun 2016
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Page: 13
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Mark Bonokoski


If not for stepping out for a coffee, my oldest nephew, Jay, would 
have been among the nearly 100 arrested in the coordinated police 
raids of 43 storefront Toronto pot dispensaries at the end of May.

Instead, he got grainy smartphone footage of the takedown of the 
dispensary where he works as a clerk - footage taken from across the 
street of police with guns drawn, of his co-workers in handcuffs, and 
even a "patient" in a wheelchair being cuffed as well.

This incensed Jay. If not for having a medical marijuana user's 
certificate, I do not know where Jay would be today. His life has not 
been what anyone wished it would be. He has issues.

Until he took to medical marijuana to deal with those issues, 
however, he was on a daily handful of pharmaceuticals, complete with 
all their soul-sapping side effects, in order to deal with increasing 
anxiety, depression and a borderline personality disorder. Now he is 
on none. "Medical marijuana changed my life," he says.

As his uncle, I would say that it likely "saved" his life. It has 
kept the black dog at bay, and has freed him from a reclusiveness 
that had become a coping mechanism.

Once upon a time, Jay worked as a bank teller and then, when his 
issues began to take deeper root, he left banking to work as a 
maintenance worker at the Ottawa rail depot, choosing the night shift 
for the solitude it offered.

And then, when medical marijuana worked what he calls its "miracle," 
he eventually packed up for Toronto for a job working at CALM - 
Canadian As Living Medicine - a medicinal pot dispensary which has 
been quietly in existence for more than 20 years without incident.

It initially started up to serve upwards of 100 AIDS patients.

"Patients" is the word most pot dispensaries use to describe clients. 
Not "users."

Thing is, I wrote about CALM some 10-plus years ago, and it never 
raised a single police eyebrow, for it was left alone until the big 
raid last month.

Unless police intelligence is truly an oxymoron, those planning the 
cross-city raids would have known that CALM deals only with clients 
who have legal marijuana certificates. It does not traffic to 
recreational users.

Unlike other dispensaries in Toronto, there are no signs outside any 
of CALM's three dispensaries, and nothing in the windows to indicate 
the business that lies on the other side.

They are just doors in buildings.

Those who argue that such dispensaries are breaking the law are not 
wrong although, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising the 
legalization of marijuana sooner rather than later, the pot shop 
raids were over-kill, and undoubtedly a response to Toronto Mayor 
John Tory publicly getting his shorts in a knot over their proliferation.

Jay, my nephew, spent the days following the raid on his cellphone, 
listening to the distraught who do not know where to go to get their 

He knows that if all these people somehow turn to the street, they 
will be dealing with an unknown product and organized crime, because 
even small-time pot dealers are forced to get their product from the 
gangs that have no problem shooting up the city.

But, most of all, he also knows these anxious people, now out on a 
limb, are no different than him. They are "patients" just as much as 
he is a patient.

And it troubles him that he can no longer help them.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom