Lawsuit Argues "Compassion Club" Ban Violates Canadian Constitution

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Lawsuit Argues "Compassion Club" Ban Violates Canadian Constitution

By McCarton Ackerman 02/13/14

Two men arrested for selling medical marijuana from a dispensary are fighting back against what they consider to be violations of their constitutional rights.

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Two men charged with drug trafficking for running a non-profit “compassion club” that sold medical marijuana are now trying to overturn Canada’s federal law banning such institutions. Carl Anderson and Wesley Jackson, who were arrested in 2011 by Royal Canadian Mounted Police for running a compassion club in Kamloops, B.C., are now arguing in court that the legislation violates the Canadian constitutional right of patients to life, liberty, and security of the person.

Anderson, who suffers from chronic pain stemming from a 1997 car accident, said that cannabis-based oil pills are the only thing that has helped him. Painkillers he was prescribed by doctors made him suicidal, but buying pot off the street resulted in a dealer robbing him of hundreds of dollars at knifepoint. He eventually opened the Canadian Safe Cannabis Society in 2010, with a gas-chromatograph-equipped lab for testing.

“When the interests of the state are basically nothing more than to make life difficult for people who are ill and trying to improve their health…that’s a major problem,” said Anderson. “If somebody can go buy enough OxyContin to kill a whole school-full of children at the pharmacy, why can’t I go and buy my medical marijuana from the dispensary?”

Although Canadian police are typically lax when it comes to marijuana, especially in British Columbia, the government still considers these dispensaries to be illegal. Shawn Buckley, Anderson’s lawyer, argued that compassion clubs are the main way medical marijuana users can determine that their drugs are safe. He said that not having access to this service “places people...in danger” while violating their constitutional rights.

Medical marijuana patients in Canada can currently grow their own pot or buy it from Health Canada, which contracted with a single company to produce marijuana. But those laws are set to change on April 1. People with marijuana prescriptions will then be required to purchase it from Health Canada and may only do so via mail and not in retail stores.

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