Weed club bust leaves some patients buying from criminals
‘We are not here to be criminals,’ says president
Medical marijuana patients say a police bust at the Halifax Compassionate Club last week is forcing them to turn to criminals to buy their medicine.
The Compassionate Club was where patients with a government licence could buy their marijuana.
Stephane Piche has a license to legally buy marijuana for chronic back pain. He said he used to buy his daily dose, five grams of weed for $40, at the dispensary.
"It made it safe for me to be able to get my medicine at a reasonable cost without endangering me or my family," he said.
But then police raided the club in Porter’s Lake, a grow-op store downstairs, and the East Chezzetcook home of Chris Enns and Sherri Reeve, the president and vice-president of the club.
Officers seized more than four kilograms of marijuana along with 300 grams of magic mushrooms, close to 1,000 pills and $50,000 in cash.
Three people were charged with trafficking.
Enns said he’s angry a place that helps cancer patients was targeted by police.
"We are not here to be criminals, we are not here to harm the community, we are here to help the community, and we are willing to work with the community in order to do that," he said.
Piche said the bust has left him turning to criminals to get his medicine.
"[I’m] scared for me and my family. People know me, know that I buy weed, see me in that transaction or in that house. They could follow me when I’m leaving, steal my car, steal my belongings, follow me home."
Enns is due in court in June.
Health Canada implemented its medical marijuana access regulations in 2001. Under the program, people with "grave and debilitating illnesses" can be granted legal access to marijuana for medicinal purposes. People seeking a permit apply in writing to Health Canada, with a supporting document from a medical practitioner.
Patients can currently access medical marijuana through a grower designated by Health Canada or by becoming licensed to grow it themselves. But under the new regulations, marijuana would be available only from commercially-regulated growers. Smaller operators and people growing for themselves would be out.
More than 15,000 people are licensed to grow medical marijuana in Canada. Health Canada says better regulation of medical marijuana will help prevent abuse.