HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html `Medicine' Seized In Bust Of Pot Club
Pubdate: Wed, 14 Aug 2002
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Toronto Star
Author: Tracey Tyler, Legal Affairs Reporter
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Four Charged Were Helping Sick People, Their Lawyer Says

Four people were taken into custody last night after police raided a 
Toronto "compassion club" set up to distribute "medical" marijuana.

"They are not criminals," their lawyer, Alan Young, said after leaving 
Toronto police 13 Division, where his clients were being held pending a 
bail hearing today at old city hall. "They were providing medicine to sick 

The four were charged with trafficking in a controlled substance and 
possession for the purpose of trafficking over a three-month period, Young 

He said if they are released on bail today, one of the conditions will 
probably be that the Toronto Compassion Centre, which is located on 
Bathurst St. near St. Clair Ave. W., be shut down, and that will leave more 
than 1,000 members without the marijuana they say they need to cope with 
serious illnesses. Young called the arrests "vindictive" and "stupid."

One of the four people charged, Warren Hitzig, the club's founder, is also 
one of a group of seven people suing the federal government over its 
medical marijuana regulatory regime.

"They (Toronto police) are going to have to live with the repercussions of 
cutting off the supply of medicine to sick people," Young said, predicting 
the phones at 13 Division will be ringing off the hook with calls from club 

Police would not say what motivated them to act last night. A constable 
said they were under orders from their superior officer not to discuss the 
case or even release any details about who was charged and what they were 
charged with.

Young said the club has been operating openly for three years with a 
storefront, Web site and published phone number. A "breaking news" bulletin 
posted on the Web site last night suggested some of the charges might 
relate to a visit police made to the club last December to investigate a 
robbery in which several female staff members were beaten.

At the time, they "found and confiscated a large quantity of medicine," but 
no charges were laid, according to the bulletin, which went on to say 
"Toronto cops have forced the issue and decided that it's time for war."

Young said it's ironic that the federal government is handling the 
prosecution of his four clients at the same time it is defending itself in 
a lawsuit filed by one of them.

Hitzig and the others are asking Ottawa to strike down regulations spelling 
out the conditions under which the use of medical marijuana is allowed and 
to provide them with a supply of pot that was grown experimentally, under 
contract to the federal government, in an abandoned copper mine in Flin 
Flon, Man.

Hitzig's group says Ottawa's regulations are impossible to fulfill because 
doctors have been warned by their insurers not to sign the required medical 
declarations for people seeking pot.
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