Compassion Club raids in Courtenay ‘frustrating and depressing’

Dolly Smith lives with pain.

The Cumberland resident, who suffers from a number of afflictions, finds she hurts herself fairly frequently because she is "clumsy."

Dolly Smith lives with pain.

The Cumberland resident, who suffers from a number of afflictions, finds she hurts herself fairly frequently because she is “clumsy.”

Smith has been on disability since 1998. She suffered a brain injury, for which doctors prescribed anti-depressants, but she took the medication for only a few days.

Then she heard about the North Island Compassion Club, a Courtenay establishment that sells medicinal marijuana and other medications such as cannabis-infused oil to help people who live with cancer and other debilitating ailments. It also acts as a support service, offering clients guidance and companionship.

Police have busted the Sixth Street club twice this year, most recently in July. NICC manager Ernie Yacub — a director of the non-profit society — was arrested and released with a promise to appear.

“This whole situation, it just really did something to me,” Smith said, calling the raids “frustrating and depressing.”

She is not angry at police and she understands public concern, but Smith also understands the concerns of people who are sick.

“It’s really important for us,” she said. “Some of us cannot use anything else.”

Those licensed can legally purchase cannabis through the government’s medical marijuana program, though licences can be difficult to obtain.

Smith worries the program might be in jeopardy with a new law on the horizon called Bill S10. The federal Conservatives are calling for mandatory minimum sentences of six months for growing six or more marijuana plants. The penalty would be stiffer for those making hashish products.

“That really got me going,” Smith said. “Now I’m concerned about sending my own paperwork in (to get licensed.)”

Still learning about the benefits of medicinal marijuana, Smith thought it could only be smoked until the compassion club from Victoria introduced NICC clients to massage oils, salves and other such products. Different types of oils “really help” and are not dangerous if accidentally swallowed, Smith said.

She has asked members with children how they deal with the type of medicines used “because of the legalities” involved.

“It’s just a matter of education, I guess, and how you teach it,” said Smith, who describes Yacub as a passionate person who cares about his clientele.

“He works hard and he tries hard. He’s very environmentally conscious, and always trying to encourage people to eat healthy. It’s important to him.”

She also speaks highly of club founder Noreen Evers, who visited Smith at her home and followed up over the phone when she first inquired about the service.

“She’s like Ernie; she just won’t stop,” Smith said. “She feels it’s very, very important. She’s willing to go to jail for it.”

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