About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Scratching my Head Over Cannabis Club Bust

It came as big news last week when the Guelph Police raided the Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph, several private residences and arrested four people. But the bigger news: There's a Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph?

I guess having never needed their services, I've never had to seek them out, but they are (or perhaps were) right there on Baker Street, downtown, and been operating since 2006. They have an online presence, and operated openly and honestly servicing residents looking for a better quality cannabis than the government suppliers provide. Their website says that they're members of Guelph Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Guelph Business Association, which are hardly your average hippie, tree-hugging organizations.

So what happened? Because from the look of things, it seems the Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph was shut down for doing the very thing it was very candidly saying that it was doing.
This is from the Guelph Police Media Room last Friday:

On May 6th, 2010 at 3:25pm, members of the Guelph Police Drug, Intelligence Unit, Coordinated Enforcement Team and Uniform Division executed Controlled Drugs and Substances Act search warrants at the Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph 62 Baker Street and 5 other addresses on Dublin Street, London Road, Arrow Road and Quebec Street Guelph. As a result four people were arrested for trafficking, possessing a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking and production of a controlled substance.

“Our investigation has revealed that The Medical Cannabis Club of Guelph has illegally sold marihuana and hashish” commented Sgt Doug Pflug-Guelph Police Media spokesperson. “Health Canada sets clear guidelines and regulations for the use of medically sanctioned marihuana use and these individuals operated outside those guidelines and regulations.”

I decided to go to the Health Canada website to look up the guidelines and regulations that the press release spoke of. Now you can apply through Health Canada to get a permit to possess marijuana, but you can only get that pot under certain conditions. From the Health Canada website:

Holders of an authorization to possess can currently obtain marihuana for medical purposes from three possible sources:
  • They can apply for access to purchase dried marihuana from Health Canada;
  • They can grow their own supply; or
  • They can designate someone else to grow it for them.
So yeah, I guess the MCCoG was in violation, but again I'm curious, what took police so long? According to an initial post on the Guelph Mercury website, "Last year, city police revealed they were investigating the organization after receiving inquiries about its operations from local doctors who had been approached by patients to sign prescription forms for use at the club."

Okay. I'm still confused. Here's from another Guelph Mercury article:

Court heard Friday, when all four accused made a bail appearance, that in April, Guelph Police began investigating alleged illegal sales of controlled substances out of the cannabis club on Baker Street. The club, which opened more than three years ago, dispenses medical marijuana and has grown to about 240 members.

At least three undercover officers acquired licences from the club, which doesn’t have the authorization to issue a licence to possess marijuana, said federal Crown attorney David Doney. With the licences, they were able to purchase marijuana and hashish on several occasions from the club staff, he said.

Guelph Police spokesperson Sergeant Doug Pflug said only one of the accused had a Health Canada licence to possess or grow 30 marijuana plants. The other three individuals didn’t have licences and [Rade] Kovacevic was still in the application process with Health Canada.

So while there is a decent legal argument that can be made that the MCCoG were in violation of the law, but the fact that they were recognized as lawful, tax-paying business for so long shows that there's this huge grey area so far as this country's drug laws are concerned. Every April 20th, hundreds of University of Guelph students blaze up on Johnston Green and there's never any sign of riot cops, and I can't imagine that the Police Service don't know about what happens on the grass one day every April.

So what's going on? Why the sliding scale in the treatment of the possession of marijuana? Why the sudden push on to clamp down on the Cannabis Club? Not to sound cynical, but between this and another recent major drug bust, one might think that this is an election year. Having spent the afternoon with this issue, I'm still left with as many questions as answers...

There's supposed to be a rally tomorrow in front of Guelph City Hall and another protest this Saturday afternoon in St. George's Square. The accused will appear in court again on May 31st.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think any reasonable person should be scratching their head too at what happened. What we need is not only decriminalization, but a complete end to this ridiculous prohibition at a federal level. Until that happens anyone with a small amount of marijuana is a potential victim of this horrific abuse of our natural right to put what we want in our own bodies (case in point, another example is the looming "C-51" bill which seeks to make many natural supplements illegal).

Lets be to the point about this, the only reason marijuana is illegal is because government and big business cannot completely monopolize it, given that anyone barely competent can grow quality pot in their basement.

The only reason that the police fervently oppose decriminalization is because it would have a devastating effect on police budgets. Hence the reason for the institutionalized 'reefer madness' propaganda, aimed at scaring people into ideological conformity.

Do we want a society like they have south of us?: