Volume 91, Issue 94

Thursday, March 26, 1998

Belushi goes west


London Marijuana club may see opposition

By Dave Yasvinski
Gazette Staff

Plans to open a marijuana club in London may be destined to go up in smoke if it meets the kind of legal opposition that is trying to butt-out Vancouver's Cannabis Café.

Peter Young, London club organizer, said the club will open May 1 and employees will be handing out applications before the end of this week to 50 potential members in the London community.

Only those who can prove they have a medical affliction whose symptoms are known to be alleviated by marijuana including glaucoma, arthritis or multiple sclerosis will be accepted.

Young said there is no danger of people attempting to purchase marijuana through the club with fake medical documentation. "It would be impossible. If people are caught trying to do this we will take proper action to charge them with forgery," he said.

Although London Mayor Dianne Haskett has adamantly spoken out against the opening of this club in the past, Young said he hopes he can sit down with her and the chief of police to discuss the issue.

In Vancouver's Cannabis Café, anyone is allowed to openly smoke marijuana and police turn a blind-eye because of more pressing issues and hopes a similar arrangement will work in London, he added.

However, police Sgt. Carl Heatherington of the Vancouver Police Drug Squad, said it won't be long until restaurants like the Cannibas Café are shut down. "Although the café is still open they were never given a licence to operate and the city is still denying them," he said.

Heatherington said Vancouver police recently charged former café owner Mark Emery with his second offense for promoting and selling instruments for elicit drug use. Emery sold the café shortly after the charge.

A court order is also in place forbidding Emery to enter the café and it is only the slow legal process which is allowing it to remain open, Heatherington added.

But Jennifer Gee, an employee of the Cannabis Café, is optimistic they will obtain their licence now that Emery has sold the business. "The police hated Mark. It became a serious problem to the point where they were trying to haul him away for anything they could," she said.

Young said Lynn Harichy, the owner of the London marijuana club, suffers from a condition that requires her to take the drug. "She is the owner and if they want to arrest her, that takes balls. Taking her to court would be the biggest waste of taxpayer's money on record," he said.

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