HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Medical Marijuana Club Raided
Pubdate: Sat, 12 Feb 2000
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2000, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Ingrid Peritz, Quebec Bureau


When it comes to smoking marijuana in Montreal, it seems that even a
doctor's note is not good enough.

Police proved on Thursday that they're not prepared to be compassionate
toward the city's so-called Compassion Club, a storefront site offering
medical marijuana. Officers arrested two employees and seized the names of
27 doctors who had recommended pot for their ailing patients.

Apologetic-sounding police said yesterday they had no choice. The federal
government can give permission to cultivate and use marijuana for medical
purposes, but marijuana "compassion clubs" remain illegal.

"We feel pain for the people who are suffering, but until legislators change
the law we have to apply it," Commander Andre Lapointe said. "We're not
gloating over this."

Marc St. Maurice and Alexandre Neron appeared in court yesterday on charges
of possessing 66 grams of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking -- enough
to make 150 to 300 cigarettes, "depending on the size," Cdr. Lapointe said.

The raid also raises the possibility of holding doctors criminally
responsible for recommending pot to their patients. Police confiscated
evidence from physicians who had suggested marijuana use to 33 patients and
forwarded it to Crown prosecutors.

The doctors could face charges of counselling someone to commit a criminal
offence, Cdr. Lapointe said, adding that prosecutors will decide. He noted
that some patients at the club suffered from serious ailments such as AIDS
and breast cancer, while others complained of migraines and back pain.

Only one of the members had received a federal exemption for taking
marijuana for medicinal purposes.

When the club opened, the director said patients would require a doctor's
note or prescription, and were allotted only enough marijuana for personal
use. Police say they have been building their case ever since the club
opened, and put the club under surveillance -- not very difficult, since it
is across the street from a police station.
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