Police Confiscate HIV Sufferer’s Medical Marijuana


Photo: The Telegram
Richard Oakley of St. John’s, Newfoundland, holds some of the medications he uses to treat HIV. A package of marijuana sent to him from British Columbia was confiscated by the RCMP.

‚ÄčA Canadian man had $1,500 worth of medical marijuana confiscated when he went to pick up a package at Purolator and was instead met by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Richard Oakley, who tested positive for HIV 25 years ago, moved back to St. John’s, Newfoundland, from British Columbia three months ago to be near his family, reports Barb Sweet at The Telegram.
Oakley said since moving, he already got the first package of marijuana from his designated grower in B.C., with no problem.
But last week, when he kept trying to claim his second delivery of cannabis and medicated chocolate edibles, Purolator told him to come back on Monday. That’s when he was met by at RCMP officer.

Oakley said he was assured there’d be no problem. But then he got a call saying the marijuana was shipped illegally.
“They’re going against my civil rights as a human being,” Oakley said as he sifted through a stack of papers chronicling his diagnosis and access to treatment, including medical cannabis. “They are taking away my quality of life.”
“I don’t want to cause any trouble,” Oakley said. “I just want to live my life.”
Oakley said his understanding was that as long as the package didn’t smell and didn’t advertise its contents, it should have been acceptable.
The medical marijuana eases his nausea from taking a cocktail of HIV medicines, as well as relieving his pain.
He also has neuropathy, which affects the nerves in his feet. The cannabis eases that condition so that he can go for walks and keep his blood flowing.
Since his supply of medical marijuana was confiscated, Oakley said, he hasn’t been able to endure his pills.
“I’m getting sicker by the minute,” said the longtime B.C. AIDS activist, who has a medical marijuana authorization from Health Canada. “I can’t take my medication without throwing up.”
Oakley warned that if the disease takes over, it’s going to cost the Newfoundland government a lot of money to take care of him.
The RCMP is “investigating the matter” involving the confiscation of Oakley’s package, media spokesperson Sgt. Boyd Merrill said on Wednesday.
While the RCMP said it believes Oakley’s medical marijuana license was properly obtained, it is trying to determine if the supplier who sent the package is registered under Health Canada’s guidelines before it considers giving the package to Oakley.
No charges are being considered at this point, according to Merrill.
The courier company doesn’t have access to an approved marijuana grower’s list, and cannot identify whether a package is illegal under Canadian drug laws or legal under medical marijuana regulations, according to Susan Munn, Purolator’s national director of security and loss prevention.
But she said if packages are “suspicious or damaged,” the company is obligated to notify police.
Health Canada has only one company contracted to supply medical marijuana. However, Oakley said he doesn’t deal with that federal supplier, but rather with his designated grower in B.C.