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Falling Through the Cracks by Colleen O’Neill

By admin | January 5, 2010

Falling Through the Cracks

by Colleen O’Neill

Kevin W. was born in Edmonton Alberta. He always knew he wanted to come to the coast, and moved here 2 and a half years ago when he found out he was sick. Kevin suffers from two forms of Kidney Disease, and showed a paper from his Doctor which states THC used for pain, along with many expensive prescriptions. He is a nice guy, with sad eyes. On October 26th he came home to police peeking through his windows. They were at the address serving papers to another person. Kevin kept driving and went to organize his life for the inevitable dealing with the law.He went to a friend’s to drop off his two dogs. Then he phoned the RCMP Langford, West Shore, division. He wanted to make arrangements to go in and cut it down himself. The constable told him it was too late and they were going for a warrant. This was actually the first time he had ever grown, reflected in the fact he only had a veg room, and no bloom room. The plants did not even have flowers. The police did not “get back to him.” Kevin arrived home “between 1 and 2 in the afternoon and they were still waiting for a warrant at 3:41pm[...]the cops were respectful in some ways, though. They let me use my phone, text my gf, and didn’t put handcuffs on me at all. They knew it was my medicine.” Kevin has been charged with Production of a Controlled Substance section 7(1) CDSA. His rental home has been “Condemned.” Kevin told me he could no longer go back into his home, and was by all accounts homeless. He will be going up island to regroup with loved ones this week, but still has to deal with so much. His landlord has been presented by the police a bill of $3,000 for the use of 5 police officers over a 5 hour period. Kevin assures me, “there was never 5 officers there, until the other 3 showed up at 5pm and were gone by 6pm, so it was only one hour that there were all five officers. The rest of the time from 1:00pm to 5:00pm there were only 2 officers.” The police informed Kevin that the air quality testing was required to be done in order for the “condemned” order to be lifted, and will cost the landlord close to $2,000. He even asked me to pass on anyone I knew that does it inexpensively. Kevin is now homeless with 2 dogs, substantially in debt, caught up in process, litigation, systems, and still very ill. He is a victim of the war on drugs. Kevin will be seeing his doctor this coming week as he has a request in to complete a MMAR form to obtain the legal right to grow his own medicine. Kevin’s condition has not changed in the short period of time of his arrest and initiation into the government process of medical marijuana. The government will not be able to process his request in under 6 weeks. From there, he will have to grow plants from seed, a much more timely process. Based upon differing skill sets and knowledge of growing, 4 months is the earliest, and 6 months the normal time for yielding any medicine—medicine which Kevin needs now, not 4 weeks from now when his first set of veg would have come off, and not 7 months from now after government process. Western Medicine has washed its hands of this man’s condition, and said he shall have to live with the pain and manage it. Kevin hates morphine and all the pills, and uses cannabis as a muscle relaxant and anti-nauseate. Kevin needs help. Anyone able to offer help for Kevin please contact Ted the CBC of C, and your generosity will be most appreciated. Part II Kevin W has been without a home for 3 weeks now, since his bust. He has been staying mainly with his girlfriend and other friends. Without a doubt, Kevin is blessed with a very rare landlady who is compassionate. Cherrie Manzon, owner and landlady of the property where Kevin resides, has been busy. In a telephone interview she expressed “it is unfair that she should have to pay anything.” Cherrie is looking at close to $5000 worth of fines and penalties thus far; approximately $3000 (with more to come perhaps) for the police to clean out 40 some plants from a carport, $500 for the down payment of the inspection required to fulfil the requirements of a completed and certified Form C from the Municipality, and the balance of $1400 plus taxes is required upon completion. These required tests involve swabbing floors, ceilings, walls, and testing the air quality. Cherrie is “still good” with Kevin. She understands “his dilemma and his need for medicine.” She is keeping him as a tenant. Cherrie is frustrated that Kevin did not talk to her before hand. She expressed, “I never would have let him grow in the house or carport, but something could have been arranged, a shed for outside or something”. When asked why she didn’t fight the bylaw, since she feels it’s unfair, Cherrie responded “What would happen to my tenants? As it is, Kevin, who is sick, has been out of his home the shortest amount of time possible and that is still 3 and a half weeks. How long would they be out of their home if I had to go to court and appear before a judge? Months?”

Kirk Tousaw, a very well known lawyer in the Medicinal Marijuana community, was reached this morning and has “a lot of concerns regarding by-laws that have similar impact as criminal laws[…]this is outside the municipality to use this power.” Tousaw agreed that Kevin’s landlady is very rare as well, especially with the “very big financial hammers against landlords.” Tousaw said, “He will be representing Kevin in a legal aid capacity if he is charged criminally.” “Most people who use medicinal marijuana buy it and don’t grow it,” said Tousaw. A sentiment echoed throughout the compassion community. Growing marijuana requires time, skill, space, money, physical ability, and obviously an exemption from the government if you are acting legally. Let the hurdles begin. Kevin’s doctor has, since our last interview, refused to sign off for Kevin’s MMAR application. Kevin is now searching for a doctor who will corroborate what he knows —that without marijuana, his quality of life while dealing with his illness would be very negatively impacted. Kevin would not be able to stomach his pills or feel muscular relief. He would be sick constantly, unable to eat, and unable to rest. Kevin has not accomplished the very first hurdle needed to begin growing his own medicine. The bylaw in question #1009, the Nuisance Controlled Substance Bylaw, was passed by Langford council in spring of 2007. Senior bylaw enforcement officer Lorne Fletcher’s office was contacted and reinforced that the bylaw “is not to be substituted for the criminal code. It’s entirely designed to make a building safe, following on the heels of a criminal code action by the police.” Fletcher stated “the bylaw has been used approximately four times in 2009. Three times the grows were organized, for profit, and not the situation where a person was growing for themselves. We have never had a situation like Kevin’s before. We have had contact with one grower in Langford, in the past, who holds a Federal Licence allowing them to grow, and this person was left alone. Kevin did not hold a licence.”When questioned whether bylaw officers can exercise discretion given circumstances, Fletcher replied “it’s not up to an officer to question the by-law, just to apply them. The only group that has discretion is the Mayor and Councillors of Langford.” Ted Smith, with the Cannabis Buyer’s Club of Canada, has answered in the call for help. Every year, in November, the CBC of C has a Silent Art Auction. It ended on November 15th at 4:20pm. Smith says all the proceeds from the event will go to helping Kevin and Cherrie with the extraordinary expenses they now face.“Hopefully it will make a difference for them,” Smith said. Please visit <> to email or phone for further information regarding the Silent Auction. Any artists who would like to support causes likes these, are welcome to donate art every October. We want to say thank you to all the artists from this year including Al Cowie, Walbran Steve, Paula Hill, Virgina Smallfry, Terry Finnie, Helen Byres, and D. Calles, among many other wonderful contributors. The lucky winners go home with beautiful art and fun was had by all.

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