The BCCLA objects to a police-led campaign to shut down medical cannabis pharmacies across Canada. Quebec police shut down three medical cannabis dispensaries, also known as “compassion clubs” today, arresting all staff on site for trafficking. The Quebec closures follow a raid on a compassion club in Nunavut in February, in Toronto at the end of March, and in Guelph in May.
“These national raids have now sent thousands of Canadians to purchase their medicine on the street,” said Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. “The police by these actions have enriched organize crime, encouraged associated criminal activity, and shut down non-profit organizations dedicated to improving people’s health and wellness. By any standard these raids make no sense at all.”
Compassion clubs have a rigorous approval process for cannabis sales, selling only to those with prescriptions from doctors or letters from physicians confirming chronic conditions that have been demonstrated to benefit from treatment with cannabis, and calling to confirm the authenticity of all documents with issuing physicians. The closed clubs were all at varying stages of actively seeking formal status with Health Canada.
There are ten compassion clubs currently operating in British Columbia. Fourteen U.S. states
have legalized medical marijuana. The use and possession of cannabis for medical purposes is legal in Canada for those with licenses from Health Canada.
“Canadian courts have been clear that it is inappropriate for government to force sick Canadians to buy their medicinal cannabis on the street,” said Vonn. “These raids do exactly that. If government can’t bring itself to provide people with the medication they need in a timely and appropriate way, at the very least they shouldn’t harass and prosecute those who do.”
Kirk Tousaw, Board Member, 604-836-1420
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, 604-630-9753