You may remember the story of Keith Gall.
Keith is a multiple sclerosis patient in Calgary with a federal license to grow his own cannabis who had his home inspected by a green team back in September 2015.
Subsequent to the inspection, Alberta Health Services (AHS) issued him an order requiring approximately $30,000 worth of testing and remediation under the Public Health Act citing a “suspicion of mold.”
Unlike at least 27 other licensed grow ops in Calgary which were shut down without protest from the sick and disabled growers relying on those medicinal plants, Keith Gall stood up to The Man and appealed the decision.
As a result of his choice to fight, Keith has spent a considerable amount of his fixed-income on legal fees, he has had an AHS lawyer intimidate him with threats of continued legal action regardless of the current ruling, and he was the victim of a violent home invasion that left him and his roommate beaten, bound and gagged.
As of Friday, Apr. 8, Keith Gall received welcome news — HE WON!
The judicial tribunal found that:
- Keith’s dwelling was a private place, not a public place as AHS alleged, and therefore they required consent to enter
- Consent was not given to enter the dwelling
- The conditions found at the premises did not support the order that was issued
There are many lessons to take away from this case, which in many ways pioneers a pathway to the protection of civil liberties in Canada.
The first lesson is that the state does not care about you. You are a cockroach to be crushed if you get in the way of its agenda.
In this case there was a clear agenda, as evidenced by a letter from Mayor Nenshi to then Health Minister Rona Ambrose, to shut down all legal grow ops in Calgary.
The AHS lawyer, backed by the unending power and resources of the state, threatening continued legal action against a very conscientious disabled man on a fixed income ought to tell you everything you need to know about who the state serves.
The second lesson is to know your rights. Be sure you do not consent needlessly to inspections by any state actor unless compelled to do so by law, it would be good to talk to a lawyer proactively and plan for the day the state comes knocking. Be aware that different agencies represented in a Green Team operate under different legislation and jurisdiction.
The third lesson is that there seems to be a difference (at least in Alberta) in the rights you have depending on your dwelling. For example, a rental property is considered a public place in Alberta and so it gives public authorities more jurisdiction under the Public Health Act than if you own your home.
The fourth lesson is that if you are a conscientious grower you give the state very little rope to hang you with.
Keith demonstrated, by the construction and operation of his grow, that he was conscientious about safety and, as a result, the judicial tribunal found there was no basis for the order even if they had consent to enter the dwelling.
The lesson here is to follow codes, get the proper permits, be friendly and accommodating to inspectors during the construction phase, and, when you are charting new territory, consult an expert in the field.
The fifth lesson is don’t roll over.
The cannabis community came together to help Keith and, as a result, he protected his freedom and made it easier for other growers to fight for their rights.
At least 27 licensed growers in Calgary before Keith did not fight for their rights and the state rolled over them and then used that oppression as evidence of a public problem.
One brave disabled man who’d enough stood up to bullies, took a beating (literally), found out a community of supporters were behind him, beat The Man at his own game and helped Canadians gain more freedom.
Keith is currently deciding whether to sue authorities for their clear abuse of public office.
What do you think? Should Keith pursue action that would make authorities across the country think long and hard about oppressing medical cannabis growers? Is that a cause you’d be willing to get behind?