Police arrested Neil Magnuson in Downtown Eastside Vancouver last Tuesday. The long-time cannabis activist sold high-potency edibles out of his RV for low-income, opioid-addicted residents. 

The Vancouver Police raided his supply and confiscated his RV. 

Magnuson told CityNews, “I shudder to think of what would happen to many of our members. They’re going to go back to the poison drug supply. Many of them will die.”

Not the First Time Police Have Arrested Neil Magnuson 

Not the first time police have arrested Neil Magnuson and his crew. The Cannabis Substitution Project, which provides opioid addicts with safe, high-potency, and inexpensive edibles, was raided in late 2020.

Raiding cannabis suppliers hasn’t been a top priority for Vancouver police for over a decade. But, as part of Trudeau’s legalization, police have more significant resources to crack down on anything that isn’t part of the LP system.

“Until they drag us away in chains and put us away in cages, we can’t stop helping these people. We’ve known them for years. We care about them. And we’re not going to turn out backs on them because the government says you have to do it legally or not at all,” Neil Magnuson said.

He’s applied for a Health Canada exemption but hasn’t heard a word back so far.

Science Supports Magnuson 

Neil Magnuson arrested
Neil Magnuson from the Cannabis Substitution Project.

Magnuson’s arrest is hypocritical, to say the least. It is cheaper to buy meth than legal cannabis in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. Even the City of Vancouver acknowledged that prioritizing “low barrier access” to cannabis as a harm reduction tool is beneficial.

But while city officials pat themselves on the back for passing a motion (i.e. virtue signalling), Magnuson and crew have followed through with action.

And the science supports Magnuson. A study from the BC Centre on Substance Use and the University of British Columbia indicated that 24 percent of hard-drug addicts cease using when given access to cannabis.

The study’s co-author, MJ Milloy, said: “Cannabis can help us save lives, particularly among the people shouldering the burden of the overdose crisis.”

Another study suggests cannabis is beneficial for young people living on the street and dealing with mental health issues and trauma.

THC Cap on Edibles – Illegal? 

Neil Magnuson’s arrest for helping the less fortunate comes at a time when the government’s regulations may be illegal.

On March 24, 2017, police charged Shaun Howell with possession of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking. Howell argued that the charges violated his section 7 rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The judge was not sympathetic to Howell’s plea regarding trafficking charges. However, Justice Robert A. Graesser ruled that the THC limits in the Cannabis Act were a violation of a medical patient’s right to reasonable access.

According to the Cannabis Act, THC oil cannot exceed 30mg per millilitre, and capsules cannot exceed 10 mg. That is far too low of a dose for an addict trying to stay off harder drugs. As well, the cost is prohibitive. With legal edibles, the ratio is roughly $1 for 1mg. So if you bought 20 cans of a THC beverage with the hopes of staying off crack or meth, it’d cost you $200.

And that’s just one day.

Considering most of Magnuson’s patrons were poor, living on disability, or even on the street – there is nothing reasonable about the Cannabis Act.

Will Neil Magnuson’s Arrest Go To the Supreme Court?

Battling in court with the government is never easy. The government has an endless barrel of cash (courtesy of the taxpayer) to pay for such cases. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs are limited by what they can raise from individuals voluntarily.

That said, there is a solid case that The Cannabis Substitution Project is providing reasonable access to the most vulnerable people in our society.

And that the Cannabis Act, lumping in medical and recreational users under one regulatory umbrella, is unconstitutional.

Justice Graesser’s ruling does not change the current THC limits in the Cannabis Act. But it does provide a strong foundation for The Cannabis Substitution Project to take this to the Supreme Court.

Footnote(s)

https://council.vancouver.ca/20190626/documents/cfsc3.pdf
https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2020.305825
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0236243