The local BC Pain Society was raided by RCMP in late November and the operators, couple Robert Woolsey and Dawn Parker, are now facing charges.
Woolsey said he was happy with the turnout at the protest, with about 40 in attendance.
“I’m thankful that so many people came out on that cold, rainy Saturday afternoon to do what we did,” Woolsey said. “The cold weather and the rain kept about half the contingency away that would have been there so we’re going to repeat it again – we’re actually going to repeat it every Saturday.”
Supporters at the rally said the dispensary was a vital part of their lives and came out on behalf of others who were unable to attend.
“It’s changed my life. It’s allowed me to live. It’s allowed me quality of life,” said Sara Laslo, who used cannabis from the dispensary to reduce the severity of her epileptic seizures.
Woolsey said he’s planning to open up his dispensary again this afternoon for the first time since the raid, with a reduced stock and operation.
With his previous supply gone, and increased police activity around his operation, Woolsey said he’s currently trying to produce more product for medicinal users after the raid. He’s also limited to transporting 150 g of medical cannabis before he becomes a target for law enforcement, an amount that severely restricts his ability to operate the dispensary.
“In order to serve the patients, I’ve put the word out to patients of the club – because it’s their club, not mine – a whole bunch of them are stepping forward,” Woolsey said, with patients supplying the club with their own medical cannabis for other patients.
Woolsey said he also revived good news this weekend, when a donor put up the money for a retainer for cannabis activist and lawyer Kirk Tousaw.
“All of a sudden, out of the blue, after thinking ‘where am I ever going to come up with this money?’ we get an anonymous benefactor that happens to be one of our patients. It’s unbelievable,” said Woolsey.
Woolsey said the RCMP action was beyond what he thinks was appropriate.
“It’s time to play hardball,” Woolsey said. “I’m going to start a civil proceeding as quickly as I can.”
Mission RCMP released a statement after raiding the dispensary, as well as the couple’s home, that said “marijuana and marijuana derivatives were being illegally produced at the residential property and sold at a commercial premise on Lougheed Highway which was being operated as a marijuana dispensary.”
Rally attendees said they’re waiting for the federal government to legalize cannabis, a campaign promise that Mission mayor Randy Hawes said he doesn’t expect to happen soon.
“Those who think that this is something that is gonna fall out of the sky within months, I think they’re dreaming. I really think the government will take its time and find a regulatory regime that makes sense for people,” Hawes said.
Woolsey agreed that legalization will take time, and thinks the cannabis community isn’t naive enough to think the legal issues facing them will disappear any time soon.
“Any of us who believed that Justin Trudeau was going press a button and make all of this just go away are living in a dream land,” Woolsey said. “They’ve barely apologized for residential schools and people are calling for them to apologize for cannabis prohibition? Good luck.”
Woolsey said supporters can visit the club’s Facebook page for more information.