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August 14, 2002
Medical marijuana bust leaves some users feeling out of joint.
The Other Man's Grass
It’s called the Compassion Centre, but Toronto police don’t have any compassion for it. Authorities allege the organization, which provides medicinal marijuana to ailing patients, is doing so illegally. Four people connected to the Bathurst and St. Clair building were charged with trafficking, and have been released on bail.
That’s left those who depend on the drug feeling a lot less than mellow. “This keeps me in a wheelchair,” complains Multiple Sclerosis patient and exemptee Alison Mydren of the pills she takes. “This gets me out of a wheelchair,” she says, holding up a bag of grass. “I don't know what people in this country don't understand!”
Lawyer Alan Young is ready for a legal fight. “Sick people shouldn't have to use their energy to fight the government on an issue the government is claiming they are supportive of.” One of the accused has already launched a lawsuit, hoping to force Ottawa to change the extensive criteria needed for a medical marijuana certificate.
The Tuesday night raid was prompted by a robbery at the Centre last year, and complaints from area residents. The Crown prosecutor in the case notes the organization hasn’t applied for the right to dispense the otherwise illegal drug.
The Compassion Centre has been operating for 3 years. Founders estimate there are about 1,300 members – and only 200 of those actually have government-granted exemptions to use marijuana. Those charged are due back in court September 30th.