Medical marijuana advocates are angry over the treatment of a Regina AIDS patient who was arrested after his pot licence expired.
Tom Shapiro was handcuffed, along with his wife and son, for four hours while police tried to determine his status in Health Canada’s medical marijuana program, said an official with the Canadian AIDS Society.
“I’m very, very angry and upset at what happened,” said Lynne Belle-Isle of the society, who has been in frequent contact with Shapiro since his house was raided Tuesday.
“There seems to be a broken link in the communications at Health Canada.
“We’re talking about a very sick man who can barely walk. He’s not exactly a threat to police or the community and he’s been trying so hard to abide by the law.”
Tom Shapiro was being held at the Regina police station Thursday while officials tried to decide whether to charge him, his wife Roberta said
in an interview.
She said her husband’s licence was delayed because Health Canada lost his photographs.
“It was absolutely traumatic,” she said, describing the raid carried out by eight police officers, four wearing balaclavas.
After Health Canada confirmed that his licence had expired, the police removed 16 plants from his basement, she said.
Her husband is unwell and has been throwing up more often since his pot supply was confiscated, she said.
Tom Shapiro has been using medical marijuana since 2001, she said. Health Canada faxed his new licence Thursday.
Health Canada spokesman Chris Williams said he could not comment on individual cases, although he was aware of the Shapiro case.
He said it normally takes six weeks to get a licence but people are encouraged to file the application in plenty of time.
“As soon as a licence has expired, it’s no longer valid,” he said. “Ultimately, the issue rests with the police.”
Elizabeth Popowich, spokeswoman for the Regina police, confirmed the raid and said it would not be unusual for police to wear balaclavas or use handcuffs.
“Executing a drug search is considered a high-risk warrant,” she said. “I don’t think it would be outside of normal procedure.”
She said investigators were interviewing Shapiro and had not decided whether to charge him.
Alison Myrden, a Burlington, Ont., woman who uses marijuana to treat pain associated with multiple sclerosis, said many patients have trouble with the Health Canada process.
“They put us through so many hoops it’s a circus.”