Charity effort curbed due to nature of cause

A Kelowna citizens group involved with the production of medical marijuana is planning to take to the streets May 7 to “free cannabis.” And along their way, they’d like to collect donations for a community group in need.

A Kelowna citizens group involved with the production of medical marijuana is planning to take to the streets May 7 to “free cannabis.” And along their way, they’d like to collect donations for a community group in need.

But when members of the Social Justice Coalition of the Okanagan shared their idea with the organization in question, they learned their good deed was less than welcome.

“We were putting up posters, and saying we wanted to collect donations for the food bank, and they said they will not accept donations from us because it would (appear) like they’re supporting our march,” said organizer Michael Dussault-Jensen.

“There are hungry people out there, and it’s not like we’re going to put a joint in the donation.”

Now, he’s asking if there are other organizations out there which would welcome the donation, because they still want to give back to the community. If the feedback he’s receiving from the community is right, the march could bring a heavy contingent of support.

“We have 100 people confirmed and we’re looking at 300 to 500 people saying they’re interested in coming,” he said, adding that the coalition just had its first board meeting and is in the process of being incorporated as an official entity.

The impetus for both the march and forming the group in the first place can be pinned on the recent surge of attention on medical marijuana, its legality and the fervor around its production.

Municipalities in the Lower Mainland have tried to drum up support in their bid to get Health Canada to stop the practice of issuing medical marijuana grow licences.

The issue was recently discussed in Kelowna council chambers, but Dussault-Jensen would like to see someone further the conversation and extend protections to those who use and grow the plant medicinally.

“There’s a bunch of issues around medical marijuana,” he explained.

“I use it because I have spinal issues, gout, cirrhosis…I’m in a wheelchair half the time…but, even though I have a licence, I have been raided by police, harassed by police and they’ve even recently come into my house to search.”

For that reason, he said, the laws have to be fixed.

“By law, we’re not required to tell police (we have a licence), so something has to be done between people who grow and the police so we can feel comfortable,” he said, explaining that it’s adding hurt to hardship when people who are medically reliant on marijuana are treated like criminals.

While decriminalization is rarely a popular topic among politicians, Ontario is a step closer following a Superior Court judgement that struck down key parts of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act prohibiting the possession and production of pot.

The court declared the rules governing medical marijuana access and the prohibitions laid out in Sections 4 and 7 of the act “constitutionally invalid and of no force and effect” Monday, paving the way for legalization.

If the government does not respond within 90 days with a successful delay or re-regulation of marijuana, the drug will be legal to possess and produce in Ontario.

“I doubt much will come of it,” said Dussault-Jensen, although he said he’ll continue to work toward getting more focus on the issue locally.

Those interested in rallying should meet at the corner of Ethel and Stockwell on Saturday, May 7, at 2 p.m., and a march will continue from the courthouse and down to Bernard.

To learn more, or if you’re representing an organization that would benefit from the donations, go to the Facebook group Social Justice Coalition of the Okanagan or



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