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Pot Challenge Gets High-Profile Help

By Hempology | May 24, 2007

Victoria Times ColonistMay 24/07

MP, Senator Offer to Help Islander’s Medical Marijuana Court Case

Philippe Lucas, founder of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, is flying high.

As a supplier of medical marijuana and political activist bent on reforming Canada’s pot laws, Lucas has a supportive MP in Vancouver East New Democrat Libby Davies.

He has what he called “an interested and engaged judge” in Justice Robert Edwards, now hearing the society’s Charter of Rights challenge arising from a raid on the compassion society’s grow-operation near Sooke. And he has a Tory Senator, Pierre Claude Nolin, to testify for the society when the trial resumes on June 11.

Lucas also has word from Davies that Canada’s Auditor General Sheila Fraser has begun the preliminary stages of checking into certain user fees attached to Canada’s current medical marijuana program.

Last week wrapped up eight days of testimony in the trial of Michael Swallow, 41, and Mat Beren, 32, both facing charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking and production of marijuana.

Swallow and Beren were arrested in May 2004 when West Shore RCMP raided a house near Sooke used by the Vancouver Island Compassion Society to grow marijuana.

The society is one of two organizations in Victoria, and others worldwide, commonly called compassion clubs. These operations supply marijuana for use as medicine to people who show proof of a longstanding incurable medical condition such as HIV/AIDS or Parkinson’s disease.

In Swallow’s and Beren’s case, the group intends with its charter challenge to show the Health Canada regulations force people legally entitled to use marijuana as medicine onto the black market to buy it. And that interferes with their right to security of person.

Lucas has hepatitis C and has Health Canada permission to grow and possess marijuana. But he has said in interviews and in court that he found it nearly impossible to comply with Health Canada regulations.

Lucas said regulations required signatures from two medical specialists, and he had to fill out a 33-page application.

“It was nearly impossible for me to comply,” said Lucas in court. “I’m not sure what somebody in a smaller community would do.”

Meanwhile, Davies said yesterday she would like to see the auditor general take a close look at Health Canada’s medical marijuana regulations. The MP said she believes the federal government is only satisfying previous court rulings that have called it unconstitutional to prevent sick people from resorting to marijuana as medicine.

Government is complying, said Davies, but only just, and only reluctantly.

“It’s like the government doesn’t really want it to work,” she said.

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