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Doors still open despite raid

By admin | August 7, 2011

Doors still open despite raid

Medical supplies: Staff at the dispensary has continued to sign up new members despite a raid last week by RCMP. Shown here during the dispensary’s opening in April are Ryan Steplock, Britney Anne and Jordan Kuyvenhoven

Burnaby’s medical marijuana dispensary is still signing up members after being raided by the Burnaby RCMP last week.

Burnaby’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened on April 15 at 4927 Kingsway.

“The doors are still open,” said Dana Larsen, a director with the Metrotown Medicinal Society, on Wednesday. “We’re still doing what we can to help people.”

However, the society is unable to provide patients with medical marijuana as part of the bail conditions set after three people were arrested in the raid last Thursday, he said.

“We’re hoping to provide medicine in the future,” Larsen added.

Larsen, a marijuana activist who was a candidate in this spring’s B.C. New Democrat leadership race, operates the Vancouver Medical Cannabis Dispensary.

If this dispensary was located a few blocks west in Vancouver, it likely wouldn’t have been raided, he said, as it is the federal arm of the law – the RCMP – that is behind the crackdown.

There have been three other raids by the RCMP at dispensaries in B.C. this summer, according to Larsen.

The society is hoping the case will end up in court, as Canadian judges have often ruled dispensaries have the right to provide medical marijuana in cases such as these, he said.

It is also looking for support from the local business community, Larsen said, and the society plans to go to the city with a letter of support signed by community members.

“We hope to be vindicated,” he said.

Those wanting to support the society should not be afraid, he added, and should come to the dispensary.

Cpl. Rick Skolrood of the Burnaby RCMP told the Burnaby NOW last Friday that the society also had a business licence violation but said that was under the jurisdiction of the city, not the police.

Police were recommending charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking and trafficking for one woman who was arrested Thursday, he said, adding he didn’t know the extent of the charges for the other two people. The society invited the Burnaby RCMP to the dispensary when it first opened, but the police initially refused.

At the time, Burnaby RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Brenda Gresiuk said that compassion clubs and dispensaries aren’t legally entitled to sell marijuana under Canadian law.

“To date, there’s no legal mechanism for that,” she said.

She refused to comment in April on whether or not action would be taken by the RCMP against the dispensary.

Health Canada does not license such organizations to possess, produce or distribute marijuana for medical purposes, according to a June 2010 press release, sent by media relations officer Olivia Caron in response to an interview request.

The federal “Marihuana Medical Access Regulations” only provide three options for individuals to obtain legal medical marijuana: access to Health Canada’s supply, obtaining a licence to produce it from Health Canada, or obtaining a licence from Health Canada to designate someone to grow it on the individual’s behalf.

A letter or document from a physician alone does not give legal authorization for an individual to possess marijuana, the release stressed.

The Metrotown Medicinal Society is located at 4927 Kingsway and is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

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