Charles and Leanne Scott, who lost their Saskatchewan farm, their livestock and almost their unborn child in a police raid two years ago against their medical cannabis grow operation (CC#30, Busted up dates), are still being abused by the legal system.
Charles appeared in court on February 5, and he presented the judge with a letter detailing how he was helping the sick by growing cannabis, providing it for free in some cases, and using it himself to treat chronic depression, knee and back pain. The judge threw Charles in the slammer for six months. And not just any slammer, but the oldest part of the oldest slammer in Canada, where they hung the leaders of the Riel Rebellion, a cell block that has been condemned twice by building inspectors.
“He lost 40 pounds in less than a month since he has been there,” said his wife, Leanne. “When I went to see him the light in his eyes was absolutely gone. It is Alcatraz filthy in there, and I’m not exaggerating. He caught a fungus infection over most of his body. They refused him access to long distance calls for over a month, meaning he couldn’t contact legal counsel or his family. They put him in with rapists and murderers. What if he comes out of there with hepatitis?”
“Everything you can imagine that happens in a penitentiary happens here,” said Scott during a telephone interview from prison. “I don’t even want to talk about it.” The prosecution in Scott’s case is appealing the sentence, asking for it to be increased to two years, meaning no possibility of early parole.
“It has been educational for the children,” said Leanne. “I came back from court and they asked, ‘Where is daddy?’ And I said that they took him to jail. They asked, ‘Doesn’t the government understand about gardening? Daddy was just gardening?'”
Making a miserable turn of events even worse, the Scotts’ family home burned to the ground on March 6, leaving Charles’ family on the street with only the clothing on their backs and no recompensation. Because of the marijuana raid, the insurance company had cancelled the Scotts’ home coverage.
Courts in Vancouver have been more compassionate in recognizing the need for someone to supply cannabis to the sick. Bill Small, a founding grower for the Vancouver Compassion Club, was arrested twice for cultivating at two separate locations (CC#25, Busted up dates). Last year Small received an absolute discharge for one of the charges, but was convicted by a different judge for the other charge, and given 12 months of probation and a $3,000 fine. Last January he appealed the conviction before the BC Court of Appeal, which ruled in Small’s favour, reducing his conviction to a conditional discharge. Small’s attorney is cannabis-law guru John Conroy.
“It shows that when you do this for a genuine medical purpose for the compassion club, notwithstanding that it’s against the law, that the court will take into account your compassionate purpose and impose the least possible penalties available under the Criminal Code,” said Conroy.
Marc Richardson, the Vancouver Compassion Club’s cannabis courier who was busted for having six kilos of medical pot in his car, also recently appealed a conviction. The appeal was heard on February 13, and Richardson is still awaiting a judgment. Conroy, who handles all of the Vancouver Compassion Club cases, expects a favourable decision.
In some cities, however, police break down the doors of medical cannabis clubs and arrest the proprietors themselves. Like in Victoria, where the Vancouver Island Compassion Society (VICS) was busted on November 8 of last year (CC#30, Crimes of compassion). VICS operator Phillippe Lucas faces court this March 19.
Or like Montreal, where the Montreal Compassion Club was raided last year (CC#25, Toking in Ottawa, busted in Montreal). At his latest court hearing on February 19, Montreal club founder Marc Boris St-Maurice ? who is also the leader of Canada’s federal Marijuana Party ? argued that the warrant was invalid, but the court didn’t agree.
“According to them,” said St-Maurice, “they had sufficient grounds for a warrant the day the club opened and announced in the media that they would be selling marijuana. So they could have raided anytime. It is curious that they chose to do so right after we announced the formation of the Marijuana Party.”
? Charles and Leanne Scott: tel (306) 432-4495
? Phil Lucas at the Vancouver Island Compassion Society: tel (250) 216-8030; website www.thevics.com
? John Conroy: tel (604) 852-5110 (please call only if you want to retain a lawyer)