Canada: Marijuana Club Butts Heads in Montreal

April 9, 2010 – The Montreal borough of Lachine says it’s doing everything in its power to discourage a medical marijuana supplier from operating in the area.

Since it began operating earlier this year, the Culture 420 “compassion club” has been causing problems for people living in the area, says Coun. Jane Cowell-Poitras.

“We’re getting complaints and we’re speaking to people on almost a daily basis,” she said in an interview CBC Radio.

The borough has been working with the City of Montreal’s legal department to look at ways of shutting down the club, Cowell-Poitras said.

“I think, for all of us, if it was purely on the basis of compassion and legal medical marijuana, none of us would have a problem with this. But it seems to me that very healthy-looking young people are bouncing in and out of that place on a regular basis and they certainly don’t look to me like they have any medical problems.”

Club on defensive

“I wasn’t aware that I lived in a city where our city councillors also claimed the ability to judge medical requirements by a simple glance,” said club co-founder Gary Webber.

Webber said all clients of the club have a medical requirement and meet standards set by Health Canada and the Supreme Court to use medical marijuana.

However, he acknowledged that unexpectedly high demand created a parking problem at the club’s 15th Avenue location.

Webber said the club has hired parking attendants to make sure clients use the municipal parking lot, rather than parking in front of neighbouring driveways. The club plans to move to a larger location in Lachine in a few weeks, he added.

Not everyone in the neighbourhood opposes the club, he said.

“Our relationship is mixed because there are many members of the community, the borough, the police who are very happy that we are here, who believe that we’re doing a really good service.”

Borough fights back

“We’ve been certainly doing absolutely everything within in our power to make life difficult for this particular organization, ” said Cowell-Poitras.

Montreal’s other compassion club operates in the borough of Plateau Mont-Royal.

City police raided that club in 2000. But when the case went to trial, a judge ruled it was unconstitutional to deny people an opportunity to get marijuana after saying they can use the drug for medical reasons.

Given the outcome of that case, Cowell-Poitras said, the borough wants to be cautious in taking any legal action.

In the meantime, the borough has sent Culture 420 a registered letter warning that it is operating illegally since it doesn’t have a business permit.

The Lachine club was the focus of public attention in March after Webber was the victim of a home invasion. Thieves took only his laptop computer and the keys to the club. Source.

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