In May of 2004, the Vancouver Island Therapeutic Cannabis Research Institute, a research and cultivation facility overseen by the Vancouver Island Compassion Society (VICS), was raided by the West Shore RCMP. Mat Beren and Michael Swallow were charged with multiple counts of cannabis production, and over 900 plants were seized and destroyed, temporarily leaving the critically and chronically ill members of the VICS without a safe source of medicine.
The ensuing court case and Constitutional challenge – which is taking place from May 9th-18th in BC Supreme Court, 850 Burdett Avenue, Victoria – will establish that the federal medical cannabis program is violating the constitutional rights of critically and chronically ill Canadians by a) unnecessarily restricting access to the program; b) supplying an inadequate source of cannabis; and c) instituting arbitrary limitations on production and distribution.
“This ineffective, onerous and expensive program has long been an impediment to safe access” says Philippe Lucas, a medical cannabis user and founder of the VICS, “and clearly isn’t protecting Canada’s sickest citizens from arrest for their use of medical cannabis.”
The VICS legal team consists of Mr. John Conroy QC from Abbotsford, BC, and Mr. Kirk Tousaw. Witnesses for the defense include Senator Pierre-Claude Nolin (chair of the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs), Dr. Robert Melamede (Biology professor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs). “We look forward to challenging the constitutionality of these regulations and demonstrating to the court that Health Canada is not meeting its obligations to Canada’s critically and chronically ill,” says Mr. Tousaw.
If successful, this challenge will make the legal medical use of cannabis more accessible, and potentially legalize the community-based distribution of cannabis. A similar challenge in Ontario from 2003 resulted with the courts striking down the prohibition on the recreational adult use of cannabis in Ontario, thereby legalizing the personal use of cannabis for over 18 months. This case may lead to a similar outcome in BC.
– Press release from the Vancouver Island Compassion Society
Read the Constitutional Challenge Notice here.
View photos of the Vancouver Island Therapeutic Cannabis Research Institute, before and after the raid, here.
Member of Parliament Libby Davies (NDP) Supports Medical Marijuana Patients’ Rights
May 1, 2007
To: Sheila Fraser, Auditor General of Canada
240 Sparks St.
Dear Ms. Sheila Fraser,
I write to bring to your attention new reports about the inconsistencies and prohibitive problems of Health Canada’s medical marijuana program and to ask again that your office conduct a thorough audit into this deeply flawed program.
Canadian Press (CP) has brought to light records obtained through Access to Information that shows Health Canada’s program is charging patients dramatically high fees for marijuana that are 15 times more than what Health Canada is paying for the product. CP goes on to report that 149 patients owe Health Canada $143,000, and many of those people have been cut off.
Health Canada is profiting from the few chronic-pain patients that can afford to participate in this program and it is bankrupting those who can not.
There is growing evidence of this programs failures and I ask again, that the thousands of Canadians denied access to this important service finally be served by an investigation into Health Canada’s medical marijuana program.
I have enclosed the most recent Canadian Press article on this issue for your information. Please feel free to contact my office for any further information that you may require, and I look forward to your reply on this important matter. Thank you for your time.
MP, Vancouver East
– Letter from the Vancouver Island Compassion Society