A Saskatoon man with chronic pain stemming from kidney cancer and Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL) feels helpless after the main source for his medication was on the wrong end of a police raid.
“It’s the only medication I can take,” said Graeme Rutherford on the steps of the Saskatoon Police Service headquarters in Saskatoon. ” I have severe kidney cancer and I have two gashes up my hip and if I took the strong pills my doctor gave me my kidneys would fail and I wouldn’t have anything left.
“I feel hopeless; I feel a lot of anxiety and fear … I’m very open and vocal about preserving this club and nothing else helps me as much as medical marijuana does.”
Rutherford and about 100 others gathered in front of the police station to protest the city police’s raid on the Saskatchewan Compassion Club on Thursday.
In what was mostly a peaceful protest, which saw many medical marijuana prescription holders light up, compassion club owner Mark Hauk said he’s heart-broken because the raid left 600-plus clients without a place to get their medicine in the future.
“Many of them today, they don’t have access to their medicine today or tomorrow or the next day and that’s pretty hard to swallow,” Hauk said.
Hauk made bail on Friday, but still faces charges of trafficking and possession of a controlled substance after police searched his home and business, seizing all medical marijuana products he had.
But with a new Liberal government in Ottawa and the slow-moving court system, Hauk said he believes some of those charges will be thrown out.
“I’m not a lawyer I’ve never been charged but I can tell you half the charges they’ve levied against me are lies, I don’t need to be a lawyer to tell you that those will be thrown out of court,” Hauk said, adding he’s prepared to make his case before a judge, reiterating his mantra that Health Canada does not provide affordable and comparable access to medical cannabis on the same level that compassion clubs do.
Rutherford can support such an assertion with his own experience.
“I use cannabis oil and I take it orally as a capsule and that prevents me from smoking marijuana and it doesn’t expose anyone else to the medication if I’m in public. Health Canada has not provided any manufacturing licenses for the oil, so we’re depending on the grey-market which is making great products,” Rutherford said. “Health Canada provides one type of medicine and I feel that encourages cancer patients to smoke it because not everyone can make these oils that are a lot healthier.”
He hopes police were watching the protest, so they get a good look at who they are affecting by shutting the compassion club down.
“We’re all sick, we’re not a bunch of creeps or thugs or drug dealers, we’re people trying to stay alive and stay healthy,” he said.
Hauk said he plans on opening up the dispensary next week, but he won’t be selling medical marijuana.
“We’re going to be open; the bulk of the services will be consultations. There’s a lot of work to do outside of dispensing,” Hauk said. “I don’t have a condition that I can’t be at the store, there’s work that needs to be done. I’ll be providing advice to patients who need it.”
On Saturday Hauk confronted Mayor Don Atchison to see what his thoughts were on the raid and closure of the dispensary.