HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Compassion Society Busted After Marijuana Theft
Pubdate: Thu, 23 Nov 2000
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: The Vancouver Sun 2000
Contact:  200 Granville Street, Ste.#1, Vancouver BC V6C 3N3
Fax: (604) 605-2323
Author: Craig McInnes, Sun Legislature Bureau
Cited: The Vancouver Island Compassion Society


Medicinal Marijuana Is Not Legal, Police Say

VICTORIA -- When Phillipe Lucas went to Oak Bay police to report a
break-in, he did so with trepidation. After all, he was reporting the
theft of about a pound and a half of marijuana, $400 in cash and 30
white chocolate and cranberry cannabis cookies.

But as the director of Vancouver Island Compassion Society -- a
non-profit organization that buys for its members marijuana to be used
for medicinal purposes -- he expected a bit of compassion from the
police. He didn't get it.

Instead, police raided the club and have recommended charges of
possession for the purpose of trafficking and trafficking under the
controlled substances act.

Police in the tweedy Victoria suburb say they are upholding the law,
but Lucas said Wednesday his members will be forced into the hands of
criminals for what they say is essential medical treatment now that
their marijuana has been seized.

"We pay just below street prices," Lucas said. Recently, that has been
about $2,200 for a pound of grade A, indoor organic marijuana.

"Organic is very important to us," Lucas said.

"That's the biggest concern here, safe cannabis. That's the biggest
difference we can make here as opposed to buying off the street."

The registered non-profit society has been in operation for a little
over a year.

Some of roughly 130 members have referrals from their doctors, a few
have exemptions from Health Canada, allowing them to possess
marijuana. They all say they need the drug for their health.

"It's our medicine," said Lucas, who suffers from hepatitis

Recently, Health Canada started providing what are known as section 56
exemptions for people to cultivate and possess marijuana for medical

Health Canada is in the process of letting a contract for Canada's
first legal marijuana farm, but it could be as much as a year before
the first crop is in.

Police point out there is no legal source of marijuana or even
marijuana seeds.

"What we're alleging is that the society and those that are connected
with it are trafficking in cannabis and there is no exclusion under
current legislation that would allow that to happen," Oak Bay Police
Chief Ben Andersen said Wednesday.

According to Andersen, when Lucas reported the theft of marijuana, he
provided a name of a possible suspect and the police were able to
recover the stolen goods.

When Lucas went back to the police station to identify the drugs and
ask for them back, not only did police refuse, on Tuesday they raided
the club and have recommended the trafficking charges.

The Vancouver Island Compassion Society and the larger Vancouver-based
compassion club formed to provide a safe source of marijuana for their
members, Lucas said.

Now, he said, that safety is in jeopardy.

A 44-year-old Victoria man who asked to be identified only as James
said the raid will force him to seek drugs from street dealers.

James said he is suffering from fibromyalgia and has been given less
than a year to live.

Since becoming ill, he said he has dropped from 170 to 126

"Without cannabis, I can't hold food down," he said.

"Now I'm going to have to go to a criminal source to get my

Canada's marijuana law has been under a cloud since an Ontario judge
ruled that it is unconstitutional because it does not make exceptions
for people who require marijuana for medical purposes.

But rather than strike down the law, however, the judge gave the
government 12 months to make appropriate changes.

Dave Hurford, an aide to Health Minister Allan Rock, said new
regulations are being developed that will satisfy the court.
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