Medical Marijuana Users Take Refuge in Canada

Medical Marijuana Users Take Refuge in Canada
Posted by CN Staff on May 28, 2002 at 09:28:53 PT
By Thomas D. Elias, Special Correspondent
Source: Newsday
Vancouver, British Columbia - American medical marijuana activists have been heading to Canada in the past year, joining a fast-growing expatriate community reminiscent of the draft dodgers of the 1960s and '70s.Most of the medipot users have come since July 30, when Canada instituted new regulations that allow users of medipot to grow and smoke a specified amount of marijuana after they demonstrate a medical necessity and get permits from local authorities. The amount each is allowed to use varies from case to case.
Canadian authorities say they are unsure exactly how many new immigrants from America are medipot refugees. "They don't usually list that on our paperwork as their reason for coming here," says Angela Battiston of the Canadian immigration service.But so-called "compassion clubs" of pot users say the number of medipot refugees probably is in the hundreds. "We have several here and we're just a small town," said an officer of the Sunshine Coast Compassion Club, located in Sechelt, British Columbia, a town of 18,000 reachable only by a one-hour ferry from Vancouver. Some of the activists as well as their Canadian supporters have compared the immigrants to the young Americans who fled to Canada during the Vietnam War seeking refuge from a draft law they opposed."Canada has a history of protecting people from their own governments," said Renee Boje, a medical marijuana user fighting extradition from British Columbia to California on drug charges. "We're really not like draft dodgers fleeing the Vietnam War," says Steve Kubby, the 1998 Libertarian Party candidate for governor of California. "For many of us, this is a matter of life and death."Kubby, who moved to Sechelt last winter, was acquitted last year of marijuana possession and possession-for-sale charges after a highly publicized trial in Auburn, Calif. But he was nevertheless convicted on one misdemeanor count of possessing a hallucinogenic mushroom and sentenced to 120 days in jail. Kubby moved to Sechelt a few months after having partial success using California's 1996 Proposition 215 as a defense, even though a series of attorneys general and the U.S. Supreme Court have held that federal narcotics laws override the ballot initiative, which allows use of marijuana for medical reasons with a physician's approval. At his trial, Kubby produced testimony from a University of Southern California doctor who said steady pot smoking is the only reason he is alive 25 years after being diagnosed with a rare form of adrenal cancer.He fled to Canada after learning he would not be allowed to use marijuana in jail. "The 120 days amounts to a death sentence," he said. Kubby is one of three medipot refugees from California arrested by Canadian immigration officers this spring. All face possible deportation after hearings in Vancouver during the next two months. All are free on bail."We believe his U.S. conviction classes him as criminally inadmissible as an immigrant to Canada," said Battiston.Others now threatened with deportation include Steve Tuck, 35, with six felony pot charges against him in Humboldt County, Calif., and Ken Hayes, wanted on federal charges of growing pot for sale through a medical marijuana users club in San Francisco.Using Proposition 215 as a defense, Hayes was acquitted in 1999 on previous charges of possessing 899 pot plants he said he was growing for use by the same medipot club. Tuck also maintains he was growing marijuana to control pain and muscle spasms arising from a spinal injury.All three contend their immigration woes are a form of continuing harassment by California and U.S. authorities. Source: Newsday (NY)Author: Thomas D. Elias, Special CorrespondentPublished: May 28, 2002Copyright: 2002 Newsday Inc.Contact: letters newsday.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Kubby Files Appeals To Calif. Supreme Court Court Rules Kubby Not Fugitive Arrests Third Pot Activist Men Face Hearing in Canada
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Comment #2 posted by SoberStoner on May 28, 2002 at 12:43:23 PT:
Small town of 18,000...
Something tells me it wont be that way for long..especially if more news stories come out about the 'american refugee city'..i'm just glad i have friends in victoria so one of these years when i move up there i'll at least have someone scouting out places for me before i move:)I'm willing to bet that most canadian cities have seen a recent rise in their visitors from america.How long before the US or canada sets up new regulations on how you have to cross the border..or IF you can cross at all..Or maybe canada will smack down all the cannabis laws, people wont die by the millions and the world will finally see the truth in action and change its ways(although we all know the US will not go down without kicking and scream and clawing and killing more innocents)This is gonna be a long summer kids..hold on tightSS
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on May 28, 2002 at 11:15:45 PT:
The brain drains have begun
Because when it's not just the refugees from the cannabis clubs but highly skilled professionals who happen to be closet tokers who start feeling the fetid breath of antis on their necks and decide a colder, cleaner clime is in order, the US economy will start to bleed to death.Keep it up, antis, keep it up. Because when they go, so will your jobs.
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