Don Faulkner, the Savona man killed in Thursday’s rail crash, was a licensed marijuana grower, committed pot activist and well-loved community man. Over the weekend, those who have been fighting for improvements to Canada’s fledgling and controversial medicinal marijuana program and reform of the criminal law mourned his passing. The 59-year-old Faulkner and his fellow conductor, 55-year-old Tom Dodd, of Ashcroft, died at the scene of the crash 40 kilometres north of Lillooet.
Gord Rhodes, the 49-year-old engineer, miraculously survived when he was thrown from the derailment that saw his CN Rail train plunge down a mountainside and explode in a fireball. The three railway amigos had worked together for more than a decade.
“Don was a great guy,” said Eric Nash, Vancouver Island’s best-known legal marijuana producer and an information hub for medical users. “He was a committed medical cannabis advocate, cultivator, and supporter of people’s right to use med cannabis. We’ve been e-mailing each other since 2003, and Don joined the Medusers [activist]group early in 2004.”
Faulkner lobbied politicians and wrote newspapers pushing for the rights of those who can benefit from the long-documented medicinal properties of the criminally prohibited herb. In 2004, he offered to be a designated grower for anyone in the Kamloops area as he was already involved with Health Canada and had completed his criminal records check.
Before the Liberals lost power, he wrote to then-Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh about cannabis testing at McGill University to determine if there is any long-term harm from smoking or ingesting cannabis. Faulkner was concerned about the marijuana produced by the only company licensed by the federal government to legally produce pot — Prairie Plant Systems. It grows its plants in an old mine site near Flin Flon, Manitoba. He was concerned that if the supply of cannabis was compromised, that could have consequences for the intended study participants who were already extremely ill people.
“For somebody already ill, it would be paramount to ensure that this study’s product must pass the most stringent testing, for safety concerns,” he wrote. Across the country Health Canada has licensed hundreds of people to consume marijuana or to grow it.
“I respectfully submit that the already licensed growers of this herb could be allowed an increase in their production licenses, with the extra product going to McGill, for this study,” Faulkner said. “Health Canada has a full listing of all the licensed growers in this country, of which I am proud to be included.”
The compassion clubs are supplying quality medicine, at a far lower cost to the end user, than the government has been able to do, he maintained, and Ottawa is attempting to gain a monopoly in the production of medical marijuana.
“The government does not distill the alcohol sold in liquor stores, nor does it grow the tobacco grown for cigarette production in this country,” he said. “They shouldn’t be in the medical marijuana business either. Leave that to those who know how to do it best.”
? Article from The Vancouver Sun
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