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Autumn 2005
Journal of the California Cannabis Research Medical Group

What's the Matter with Canada

By Richard Cowan

In late July, Canadian police, acting on behalf of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, arrested Vancouver seed merchant Marc Emery, 46, and two of his associates —Michelle Rainey, 34, and Greg Williams, 50. The DEA is seeking to extradite them to stand trial in the states, where they could face life sentences for selling cannabis seeds to Americans.

Emery’s successful mail-order seed business has enabled him in recent years to underwrite the B.C. Marijuana Party, Cannabis Culture magazine, Pot TV, and non-stop political campaigning. His arrest wrecked the Canadian seed business, which was also the backdoor into the American market for Dutch seed breeders (who would not sell directly to America).

Emery’s lawyer, John Conroy, has learned that government agents scanned mail to and from Emery’s seed business in the weeks prior to his arrest.

Ian Hillman at the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver says the Emery probe “nearly involves every state... I understand it involves dozens of people on both sides of the border.” In other words, Canada’s collaboration with the DEA may have put a number of American patients in danger of being arrested under U.S. marijuana laws. I think that it would be very unwise for anyone in the US to buy seeds by mail from Canada, or perhaps even the UK.

DEA Director Karen Tandy issued a press release boasting, “Today’s arrest of Mark (sic) Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and the founder of a marijuana legalization group, is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery’s illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.”

Marc’s money could never buy the kind of publicity that this case has received in Canada. Even some prohibitionists have denounced the collaboration of the Canadian police with the DEA. The prevailing attitude can be summed up: “If what they were doing was illegal in Canada, they should have been charged under Canadian laws; and if it is not illegal in Canada, they cannot be deported to the U.S.”

Michelle Rainey, the Vice President of the BC Marijuana Party, has Crohn’s disease. Before discovering that cannabis could control her severe symptoms, Rainey had two major surgeries to remove sections of her intestines. She had to live with the debilitating side-effects of the standard pharmaceutical treatments, especially steroids. When the program was set up, Health Canada required that Crohn’s patients get their family doctor and two specialists to approve their application —and discouraged doctors from doing so.
Under court order, Health Canada has dropped the requirement for two specialists and Michelle is hopeful of getting her exemption soon, which could complicate her extradition case even more.

Ironically, it was a Seattle Grand Jury that issued the indictments. Washington State’s Medical Quality Assurance Commission voted in 1999 to add Crohn’s Disease to the list of illnesses that can be treated with marijuana.

In early October, expatriate Steve Tuck was forcibly returned to the U.S. after being taken from a Vancouver hospital bed. Tuck, a disabled vet who has undergone multiple back surgeries, was arrested for cultivation in Humboldt County in 2002 and fled because he feared being denied necessary medication in prison. Canada refused to grant him refugee status.

O'Shaughnessy's is the journal of the CCRMG/SCC. Our primary goals are the same as the stated goals of any reputable scientific publication: to bring out findings that are accurate, duplicable, and useful to the community at large. But in order to do this, we have to pursue parallel goals such as removing the impediments to clinical research created by Prohibition, and educating our colleagues, co-workers and patients as we educate ourselves about the medical uses of cannabis.
The Society of Cannabis Clinicians (SCC) was formed in the Autumn of 2004 by the member physicians of CCRMG to aid in the promulgation of voluntary standards for clinicians engaged in the recommendation and approval of cannabis under California law (HSC §11362.5).

As the collaborative effort continues to move closer to issueing guidelines, this site serves as a public venue for airing and discussing these guidelines.

Visit the SCC Site for more information.