|Graphic: Magickal Graphics|
|David Hodgkinson got the equivalent of a lump of coal in his Christmas stocking from the RCMP.|
B.C. Man May Be Spending Christmas In The Dark
Medical marijuana grower David Hodgkinson may be having a dark Christmas after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police swooped in on his home Friday, busted up his grow operation and cut off his power, reports Robert Barron at the Nanaimo Daily News.
Hodgkinson has been growing medicinal cannabis for about a year under a government license from Health Canada, and was licensed to grow up to 49 plants. But his license expired in August, despite the fact that he applied for its renewal eight full weeks before its expiration date, as stipulated by the government.
But since Health Canada over the past year has experienced a “sharp rise” of applications to grow medical marijuana that have “slowed the process down,” according to a spokeswoman, Hodgkinson’s license wasn’t renewed in a timely manner.
Did that delay result in an apology for laggardliness from the government or its health ministry, especially since their slowness could impact the health of patients?
No, it got Hodgkinson, of Cedar, British Columbia, an armed police raid and his electrical power cut off.
|Graphic: Man O’Law|
A friend who also has his own license to grow up to 49 plants was sharing space and equipment with Hodgkinson at his home, but his license also expired in August and he was facing the same bureaucratic challenges from Health Canada when the police showed up to dismantle the operation.
Both men were arrested and charged with illegal marijuana cultivation.
Nanaimo RCMP on Monday refused to release details of the raid on Hodgkinson’s home. One local medical marijuana advocate called it “a shame” that law-abiding people who try their best to be legal and go by the rules are still being punished for their efforts.
“The thing is, the police had been to my house a number of times to check on the operation since my license expired, knew my circumstances and never did a thing until now,” Hodgkinson said.
“They didn’t even bother unplugging anything, but just cut all of the wires and hoses, had the power disconnected and now the only power I have is from a friend’s generator,” Hodgkinson said. “I don’t know what to do next, other than try and get my power back on and get on with life.”
The Health Canada official, who asked not to be identified, said the agency has posted a notice on its website explaining there is a backlog of new marijuana growing applications and renewals of old ones, which is causing delays.
The notice says that Health Canada is “working hard to improve its efficiencies.” However, it neglects to mention that until the agency catches up, growers will apparently be punished for the government’s inefficiency.
The Health Canada spokeswoman said a license to grow medicinal cannabis has an expiration date that still applies — despite the bureaucratic backlog — and that people like Hodgkinson are “technically” growing pot illegally until their licenses are renewed.
It seems the authorities would rather patients buy medical marijuana from organized criminals rather than people like Hodgkinson who are trying to fill a health need legally, said Richard Payne, a medicinal cannabis advocate who once ran as a candidate for the B.C. Marijuana Party.
“I think it’s outrageous that people who are doing their best to to help are being punished for it,” Payne said. “We’ve been fighting this ongoing battle for a very long time.”
Hodgkinson said the police knew that he had applied and was waiting for his license to be renewed, but they wouldn’t respond to his questions while they were raiding his house on Friday.
“I’ve also told Health Canada that they’ve put me in a bad situation and asked what I should do, but they wouldn’t give me any advice,” Hodgkinson said. “Christmas is beginning to look pretty bleak right now.”