Compassion clubs back in court
The owners of two compassion clubs raided last June for selling marijuana drew big crowds of supporters to the Montreal courthouse on Friday, where their lawyers were contesting the legality of the raids.
"It is going to be a long, drawn-out process," said longtime marijuana activist Marc-Boris Saint-Maurice, who was running the Montreal Compassion Centre. "The wheels of justice are very slow."
There were 35 arrests made in June after police in Montreal and Quebec City raided five compassion clubs, which provide marijuana for people suffering from severe pain, persistent muscle spasms or nausea caused by multiple sclerosis, a spinal cord injury or disease, cancer, epilepsy, arthritis, or HIV/AIDS.
Police seized 130 pounds of marijuana and $10,000 cash that day.
"These people were absolutely compassionate," said Eugene Feigh, who is licensed by Health Canada to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes. "They were without a doubt doing everything as legal as it could possibly be."
Four of the five compassion clubs raided in June were in Montreal.
Two of those four compassion clubs were in court Friday to argue that they are legally allowed to provide marijuana to sick patients, as the Supreme Court of Canada ruled two years ago.
However, the legal debate here is how these clubs get the marijuana through legal means.
The Montreal Compassion Centre on St-Laurent Blvd. first opened its doors in 1999. It claimed back in June to have 1,500 members, even though there were only 300 to 400 people in Quebec authorized by Health Canada to legally consume marijuana.
The most recent club to open was Culture 420 in Lachine earlier this year. The directors of the Montreal Compassion Centre and Montreal Compassion Club have taken issue with the Culture 420 club because they believe the new club attracted too much attention through promotions.
That, they say, is what ultimately led to the raids.