Raided ‘Compassion Club’ to Hold Protest

The Queen Street East ”compassion club” raided and picked clean by police last week reopened yesterday, but it was selling only politics, not marijuana.

Neev Tapiero, owner of Cannabis As Living Medicine (CALM), said its current goal is to spread the word about a protest this Sunday outside police headquarters over the government’s medical marijuana regulations.

”Health Canada’s poorly run program … results in thousands of people’s rights being denied,” he said.

Plainclothes Toronto police officers raided the club last Wednesday after receiving complaints of alleged drug offences. They seized 16,000 grams of marijuana, 1,940 grams of hash and 207 grams of hash oil. They charged Mr. Tapiero and eight volunteers.

“When [police]conducted their investigation, they realized [CALM] didn’t have a licence to dispense drugs. Technically, that’s illegal,” Constable Tony Vella said.

Health Canada spokesman Philippe Laroche said in an email that “compassion clubs are unregulated and have always operated outside Canadian laws. These clubs have no legal authority to provide or to produce marijuana.”

“As compassion clubs are not authorized to produce or sell marijuana for medical purposes in Canada, their activities are subject to law enforcement measures under the applicable legislation,” Mr. Laroche said.

Mr. Tapiero said he has applied several times to Health Canada for such a licence, but one covering medical marijuana dispensing does not exist. Currently, those who qualify for a licence, including sufferers of chronic pain, can get licences to grow or possess marijuana, or they can designate someone to grow it for them.

Ron Marzel, CALM’s lawyer, said compassion clubs are usually run by those who have licences to possess marijuana.

“They’ve peacefully coexisted with the police,” he said of CALM.

CALM client Joshua Dvorkin, 34, has epilepsy and a spinal cord injury that has him using a wheelchair. Without marijuana, he said, he suffers from pains in his hands and feet.

“I have a little bit left, not a lot…. I’ll run out and I’ll be in pain,” Mr. Dvorkin said. “There’s no harm in CALM being in the community. They’re very responsible in the way they do things and there’s never been a problem.”

CALM’s protest will be held at Toronto police headquarters, at 40 College St., on Sunday at 1 p.m.

– Article from National Post.