HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Compassion Club Raided, Names Taken
Pubdate: Fri, 29 Dec 2006
Source: Parksville Qualicum Beach News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Parksville Qualicum Beach News
Author: Neil Horner, News Reporter


Coombs-Area Club Founder Russell Arrested, Charged With
Trafficking In Marijuana

The Mid-Island Compassion Club has been busted.

Mark Russell, the founder of the Coombs chapter of the Cannabis Buyers
Club of Canada, who supplies marijuana to sick people who use it for
pain relief, was raided by members of the Courtenay RCMP on Dec. 22
and now faces six counts of trafficking in a controlled substance.

"They came to the house at noon with a warrant and asked me to open
the safe," says Russell. "They removed our medicine, documents,
paperwork, client lists, everything."

Russell, who has run the Mid Island Compassion Club for the past five
years and who has 85 clients, was taken to the Oceanside RCMP station
in Parksville, fingerprinted and released.

"They were here for a total of about three hours," the Dashwood
residents says. "I was ordered not to continue running the club or
they would arrest me. I feel sick about this. Stunned."

Russell says he doesn't sell marijuana to people off the street, but
strictly to sick people who use it for pain relief, and to their caregivers.

"We deal strictly with people who have medical conditions," he says.
"They have to prove they have a medical condition before they can join
the club."

Before they took his membership lists away, RCMP let Russell photocopy
them for his own records -- but not, he says, before they blacked out
one name.

"One undercover officer came as a club member," he

"He said he had a brain tumor and he signed up with the paperwork
saying he had a brain tumor. He had a caregiver signed in as well."

Courtenay RCMP Constable Derek Kryzanowzki says the search warrant
came as the result of an ongoing investigation that had been in
progress for over a year.

"Essentially it was an ongoing investigation that culminated in
getting a search warrant because of illegal activity going on there,
which was trafficking in marijuana."

Kryzanowzki says the bust was not part of a coordinated campaign
against medical marijuana compassion clubs, nor was it instigated by a
complaint from the general public.

"It was self-generated through one of the members in the drug section
who initiated the investigation," he says.

Kryzanowzki says police have no interest in going after the people on
Russell's client list.

"They (the names) are going to be returned to him and were not even
recorded," he says. "They have no bearing on the case. We are strictly
looking at (Russel) for trafficking and we have no interest in his
so-called clients. I have no copies of them and they are sealed up."

He says police seized approximately 390 grams of marijuana in the

Russell says he plans to stop selling the marijuana for now, although
he says the compassion club will continue to operate.

"There is a need for it," he says. "We provide security for these
people. They know they can come to us and get quality product when
they need it and they don't have to worry about all the problems
associated with dealing with the black market."

Russell says the compassion club has always been a money-losing
proposition for him and he makes ends meet by taking on odd jobs such
as driving a cab.

"I've never made a living at it. I don't sell that much," he says.
"I'm not in the same category as a regular pot dealer."
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