Quebec Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Raided, Arrests Planned

A police officer can be seen inside the compassion club on St. Laurent boulevard in Montreal. (CBC Photo)A police officer can be seen inside the compassion club on St. Laurent boulevard in Montreal. (CBC Photo)CANNABIS CULTURE – Quebec Police conducted raids on five medical marijuana dispensaries in the province today and are planning at least 25 arrests.

Four dispensaries in Montreal and one is Quebec city were included in the super-raid. Police confirmed the raid and say they will be making arrests.

There has been confirmation of police raids from Montreal Compassion Centre, the oldest dispensary in Quebec, as well as the Montreal Compassion Club and Quebec (City) Compassion Centre.

These followed last months police raids of medical marijuana dispensaries in Toronto and Guelph. Legitimate Dispensaries in Canada use the same strict protocols to ensure only legitimate medical marijuana users access their services.

“These are sick and dying people, patients, whose only relief is from medical marijuana. Why on earth would Quebec police act so callously?” said Jacob Hunter, Policy Director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation. “Courts have ruled these patients have a right to access medical marijuana; a right Health Canada ignores for hundreds of thousands of Canadians. These dispensaries serve the thousands of patients unable to access Health Canada’s byzantine system, and most importantly, the courts have acknowledged this fact.”

Since Health Canada established its medical marijuana program, four different courts have ruled parts of it unconstitutional for limiting access. In the most recent cases, changed ordered to the number of patients to producers (originally 2:1) and producers to location (originally 3:1) were met by Health Canada with the absolute minimum change possible, 2:1 became 3:1 and 3:1 became 4:1. This consistently bad-faith compliance with court orders on the part of Health Canada is partially why medical marijuana dispensaries have been found to be legal in court.

“It’s unconscionable to force critically and chronically Quebecers onto the streets to obtain medicine and today’s police raids represent yet another gift by police to organized crime in the form of at least 10,000 new customers,” said Kirk Tousaw, Executive Director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation. “The tragic irony, is that in the name of combating ‘crime’ the police are ensuring that street dealers and those that control them will profit immensely at the expense of the sick and dying. The only saving grace is that S-10, the Conservatives’ mandatory minimum punishment agenda, has not been implemented, because otherwise compassionate caregivers would be facing a mandatory year in a cage for helping these ill and suffering Canadians.”

Medical Marijuana Clubs Raided in Quebec

by CBC

Montreal police are in the process of raiding four clubs that provide marijuana for people who need it for medical purposes. A location in Quebec City is also being raided.

“They just walked in out of nowhere, showed us the paper and said, ‘There’s the warrant,'” said Maria Koklas, a volunteer at the Culture 420 compassion club in Lachine.

“There’s about 15 to 20 cops in here walking around inside the dispensary taking all of our membership IDs, asking them for all their personal information, asking them for their criminal records and letting them know if they don’t have criminal records they will be free to go.”

Police are also carrying out operations at three compassion clubs on the Plateau Mont-Royal.

Some people have complained about having the clubs in their neighbourhoods, while those who run the clubs say they are often hassled by police.

Koklas said police gave no reason for the raid.

Police said there are arrests underway and drugs are being seized. A police spokesperson refused to comment further while the operation was still underway.

Previous problems

The raids come the day after the Lachine compassion club put out a news release alleging that a volunteer was beaten by police “for no apparent reason.” Montreal police have not yet responded to the allegations.

In May, an investigation by the French-language service of the CBC raised questions about the ease with which it is possible to obtain marijuana from compassion clubs.

After explaining that he needed the drug to deal with migraine headaches, a reporter with the Radio-Canada program Enquête was told he would have to provide a doctor’s note or a sworn declaration from a commissioner of oaths.

A staff member suggested the reporter say that he was suffering from chronic pain and directed him to a building down the street.

There, a commissioner of oaths was waiting to sign a declaration, for a $10 fee.

City police raided the Montreal club on Papineau street in 2000. But when the case went to trial, a judge ruled it was unconstitutional to deny people an opportunity to get marijuana after saying they could use the drug for medical reasons.

– Article from CBC News.

Cannabis pharmacy raids abusive, says BCCLA

by The BC Civil Liberties Association

Quebec police shut down three medical cannabis dispensaries, also known as “compassion clubs” today, arresting all staff on site for trafficking. The Quebec closures follow a raid on a compassion club in Nunavut in February, in Toronto at the end of March, and in Guelph in May.

“These national raids have now sent thousands of Canadians to purchase their medicine on the street,” said Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. “The police by these actions have enriched organize crime, encouraged associated criminal activity, and shut down non-profit organizations dedicated to improving people’s health and wellness. By any standard these raids make no sense at all.”

Compassion clubs have a rigorous approval process for cannabis sales, selling only to those with prescriptions from doctors or letters from physicians confirming chronic conditions that have been demonstrated to benefit from treatment with cannabis, and calling to confirm the authenticity of all documents with issuing physicians. The closed clubs were all at varying stages of actively seeking formal status with Health Canada.

There are ten compassion clubs currently operating in British Columbia. Fourteen U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana. The use and possession of cannabis for medical purposes is legal in Canada for those with licenses from Health Canada.

“Canadian courts have been clear that it is inappropriate for government to force sick Canadians to buy their medicinal cannabis on the street,” said Vonn. “These raids do exactly that. If government can’t bring itself to provide people with the medication they need in a timely and appropriate way, at the very least they shouldn’t harass and prosecute those who do.”

– Article from BC Civil Liberties Association.

Police raid cannabis clubs that supply medicinal pot in Quebec, plan 25 arrests

by The Canadian Press

MONTREAL – Police have launched a major anti-pot dragnet in Quebec and say they plan to arrest 25 people for distributing marijuana.

They are conducting raids at five cannabis clubs — better known as compassion clubs — in Montreal and Quebec City.

The organizations supply marijuana, ostensibly as therapeutic treatment for people suffering from certain medical conditions.

A police spokesman says no organized crime gangs are linked to the operations, but they remain illegal nonetheless.

Canada has in fact allowed medical access to marijuana since 2001 but, police say, people who want permission to smoke it must go through Health Canada.

Montreal police say people were just walking into these clubs, claiming to be sick, and getting easy access to pot.

Four of the clubs are in Montreal, and one is in Quebec City.

– Article from The Canadian Press.