One must ask the law makers and backers, “Whose side are you on?” Each time a cop busts a compassion club, they hand power back to the underground economy. I don’t believe this is the effect they were aiming for. What does kicking in the door of compassion say about our laws and their views on medical care?
Under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPRR), a patient can acquire any source of cannabis material, but recently only from licensed producers (LPs). There are currently almost 130,000 Canadians registered in the program.[i] When these doors are shut, patients are left out on the street at risk of purchasing contaminated or spiked cannabis to treat their condition.
Compassion clubs and dispensaries want to contribute to society, pay their taxes and remove the risks of the patient unknowingly buying any contaminated products. Though unregulated, compassion clubs seek tested, medical-grade cannabis for their customers.[ii] Some provided by the 38 authorized licensed producers for medical purposes[iii], some through less-than-legit sources. They fulfilled a niche that medical doctors have shied away from. They provided a service that no one else could or were willing provide.
Of course, not all medical cannabis is created equal. The product with the multi-million-dollar backing of LPs is more than welcome by the government. But trust in them has fallen with reports of illegal pesticide use and contaminated recalls.[iv] The comes the matter of how much they’re charging.[v]
When I envision legalization, it is of communities providing their own unique varietals a la the wine industry. I saw a boon for municipalities and provinces, not the profiting of a mere handful of corporations.
We have dealt with unjust laws before. Martin Luther King, Jr., while in at Birmingham jail, wrote:
“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”
But what injustice is there? That the anti-marijuana laws have always been more a racial issue that scientific? That after medical legalization, the acquisition remained illegal? That compassion clubs and then dispensaries stepped in to fill a gap left for the patients to figure out? That this same underground industry lobbied for legalization and stood with the patients during this turbulent and stubborn process? That with the announcement of legalization, big industry has been handed the prize while the compassionate have been designated the enemy?
The law must quit picking on the cannabis patient, the one bearing the blunt of the blow. These clubs and businesses were there for them when nobody else was available. They developed trust, yet are now being told to use one of the multi-million dollar corporations whom were given the reins.
Law enforcement has more pressing matters than hunting down someone selling an herb that is already legal to sell through the corporate structure. Cannabis must be decriminalized until full legalization is figured out. Take the focus off cannabis and start working on taking down the fentanyl, crack and meth dealers.
It’s not too late. Provinces can counter the Federal swoop, demanding more control of this ever-so-valuable industry. I find it wrong that the government has shoved the Big Boys to the front of the line while dealing penalties for those who have been there since the beginning. Compassion clubs and dispensaries deserve some respect, and will surely have a place in our country’s medical history for their service. How do those put in charge wish to be viewed on their treatment of an industry that has ease the lives of thousands?