Cedar’s David Hodgkinson is afraid he’ll be spending Christmas in the dark after the RCMP swooped in on his home Friday, dismantled his medicinal pot operation and cut off his power.
Hodgkinson has been growing medicinal marijuana in his house for about a year under a licence to cultivate the controversial herb from Health Canada.
Hodgkinson was licensed to grow up to 49 pot plants, but his licence expired in August, despite the fact that he applied for its renewal eight weeks before its expiry date, as stipulated by Health Canada.
A friend who also has a licence to grow up to 49 medicinal pot plants was sharing space and equipment with Hodgkinson at his home, but his licence also expired in August and he was facing the same bureaucratic hurdles from Health Canada when the police showed up to dismantle the operation and charge both of them with illegal cultivation.
A spokeswoman from Health Canada said the department is not allowed to share third-party information on any its medicinal pot licensees, but acknowledged that there’s been a “sharp rise” of applications over the past year to grow medicinal marijuana that has “slowed the process down.”
Nanaimo RCMP wouldn’t release details of the raid on Hodgkinson’s home on Monday. One local advocate for medicinal marijuana said “it’s shame” that law-abiding citizens who try to be legal are being punished for their efforts.
“The thing is, the police had been to my house a number of times to check on the operation since my licence expired, knew my circumstances and never did a thing until now,” Hodgkinson said.
“They didn’t even bother unplugging anything, but just cut all of the wires and hoses, had the power disconnected and now the only power I have is from a friend’s generator. I don’t know what to do next, other than try and get my power back on and get on with life.”
The official from Health Canada, who asked not to be identified, said the agency has posted a notice on its website explaining that there is a backlog of new applications and renewals of old ones which is causing delays and Health Canada is “working hard to improve its efficiencies.”
However, she said a licence to grow medicinal pot has an expiry date that still applies despite the bureaucratic backlog, so people like Hodgkinson are technically growing pot illegally until the licence is renewed.
Richard Payne, a medicinal pot advocate who once ran as a candidate for the B.C. Marijuana Party, said it seems the authorities would rather that people who require medicinal pot buy from organized criminals rather than people like Hodgkinson who are trying to fill a health need legally.
“I think its outrageous that people who are doing their best to help are being punished for it,” Payne said. “We’ve been fighting this ongoing battle for a very long time.”
Hodgkinson said the police knew that he was waiting for his licence renewal to come through, but they wouldn’t respond to his questions while they were at his house Friday.
“I’ve also told Health Canada that they’ve put me in a bad situation and asked what I should do, but they wouldn’t give me any advice,” he said. “Christmas is beginning to look pretty bleak right now.”
– Article from The Nanaimo Daily News.