CSA denounces compassion club raids

For Immediate Release: June 4, 2010

Canadians for Safe Access Denounce Police Raids of Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis dispensaries, also know as compassion clubs, have
played a vital role supplying safe access to cannabis for the critically
and chronically ill in Canada for over 12 years. These organizations
provide access to a variety of high quality cannabis strains and
preparations that can effectively alleviate pain, muscle spasms, nausea,
anxiety, and other serious symptoms. Compassion clubs are also at the
forefront of academic peer-reviewed research on medical cannabis in Canada.

The services provided by compassion clubs have been appreciated by their
patients, accepted by their communities and municipalities, lauded by a
Special Senate committee, and upheld in various court rooms across the

In 2000, the highest court in Ontario ruled that those in medical need
must be able to access cannabis without risking their liberty. The court
decision called into question the constitutionality of the overall
cannabis prohibition, and the government responded by creating a
national medical cannabis program. The national program provides
licenses for legal possession and production of cannabis, and provides
medicine directly to those in need.

However, the government program has not been able to fulfill the needs
of Canadians and aspects of it have been found unconstitutional in
several courts. To date, the government has not complied with the
court-ordered remedies. Problems with the programme include a poor
quality supply of cannabis, and lack of physician participation and
patient confidence in the programme. Currently the program only serves
about 4,000 patients.

In the meantime, compassion clubs have been providing cannabis to over
15,000 people with documented medical need. Courts across Canada have
ruled in favour of these operations, recognizing that they are
fulfilling a vital service that Health Canada has not been able to fulfill.

The recent police raids in Toronto, Guelph, Iqaluit, and most recently
Montreal and Quebec City appear to be an orchestrated attempt by police
to shut these organizations down. The result is that thousands of
Canadians suffering from MS, Cancer, HIV/AIDS, arthritis and other
critical and chronic illnesses have lost an important source of their

Canadians for Safe Access denounces these raids. Rather than leave these
organizations vulnerable to police raids, CSA is calling on Health
Canada to work with these organizations to ensure they are legally
protected to provide their services to those in need and continue to
contribute to research on this important medicine. “Based on their
actions and statements, the police appear to be trying to protect the
government’s monopoly on selling medical cannabis,” notes Rielle Capler,
a researcher and director of Canadians for Safe Access.
“Our government should be supporting patients to access the best
possible medicine, not using scarce resources to fight over turf.”

With the mandatory minimum bill, S-10, currently in the Senate, CSA
would also like to draw attention to how this bill could negatively
affect medical cannabis patients. “We are asking the Conservative
government and opposition parties, in the Senate and the House Commons,
to demonstrate their commitment to Canada’s medical cannabis patients by
ensuring that any new legislation will protect their needs”, stated
Philippe Lucas, a city counselor in Victoria, BC and also a director of
Canadians for Safe Access.


Rielle Capler – 604-818-4082- rielle@telus.net

Philippe Lucas – 250-884-9821 – phil@drugsense.org