Compassion club owner Neev Tapiero says the trafficking charges he faces are as weak as Health Canada’s medical marijuana.

Tapiero, the owner of Cannabis as Living Medicine (CALM), sells medical marijuana to people with chronic diseases, including HIV.

After his Queen Street East club was raided March 31, nine people, including Tapiero, faced drug-related charges.

The charges were stayed against everyone except the owner yesterday.

“It’s the right thing to do,” lawyer Ron Marzel said as some of his clients smoked a joint in front of Old City Hall.

“If the government takes issue with a compassion club, they should have that fight with Neev.”

Marzel said the case could be precedent setting, with the potential for legitimizing compassion clubs and decriminalizing marijuana.

Tapiero maintains compassion clubs like his fill a void for patients who can’t find relief through the federal program.

“This is a charter right. If you have a condition for which cannabis is useful, you deserve high-quality consistent access,” he said.

“Health Canada was sued into creating the medical marijuana program, and since they did it reluctantly, it’s a bad program.”
In 2000, Ontario’s Court of Appeal declared marijuana possession laws unconstitutional because they failed to provide access for medical users without fear of prosecution.

In 2001, the federal government created a medical marijuana program.

The program dictates that people with a medical marijuana licence must order specified amounts from Health Canada, grow it themselves, or designate someone to grow it for them.

About 10 per cent of CALM’s 3,000 registered members have federally issued cards permitting them to possess medical marijuana. The rest have written approval from a doctor, chiropractor or naturopath, Neev Tapiero said.

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