Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2002 07:02:03 -0600
Pubdate: Thursday, August 15, 2002
Source: National Post (Canada)
Address: 300 - 1450 Don Mills Road, Don Mills, Ontario M3B 3R5
Author: Jessica Leeder
With supply dry, patients turn to street sources
'We're not criminals'
A police raid of the largest medicinal drug network in Toronto has left some 1,200 people looking to illicit sources to buy the marijuana they use to control pain.
They learned yesterday they will no longer be able to buy marijuana, used as a palliative for a number of terminal illnesses -- including cancer, AIDS/HIV, hepatitis, arthritis and spinal injuries -- at the Toronto Compassion Centre.
The club, which started supplying patients in 1998, was ordered shut yesterday by a Toronto judge after police confiscated "large quantities" of marijuana and hashish from the group's Bathurst Street headquarters.
Steven Bacon, a 48-year-old club member suffering from Hepatitis C and a spinal fusion of three vertebrae in his neck, said yesterday he has been unsuccessful in his attempts to grow pot and is angered by the closure.
"I'm so frustrated after almost three years of failed attempts to grow my own marijuana. Now the only source available to us has been taken down. For the life of me, I can't understand why they would do this," he said.
"Growing equipment is in the thousands of dollars. I'm on a disability of $900 per month, in a position that I can barely afford any medicine at all.
We're not criminals. We're sick people who need medicine. There is a need for these compassion clubs to keep us out of the underground and organized crime units. Who else is going to have that kind of marijuana?"
The crackdown has also forced organizations modelled after the Toronto Compassion Centre to resort to clandestine tactics to provide marijuana to their terminally ill clients, regardless of whether or not the clients have been authorized by Health Canada to possess the drug.