‘It’s only a plant,’ says Courtenay man filing Charter challenge against marijuana trafficking charge

On behalf of the North Island Compassion Club, a press conference was held Thursday morning at the Courtenay courthouse.

ERNIE YACUB (LEFT) and his lawyer

ERNIE YACUB (LEFT) and his lawyer

On behalf of the North Island Compassion Club, a press conference was held Thursday morning at the Courtenay courthouse to discuss medical marijuana.

NICC, a B.C. non-profit society, has been providing cannabis marijuana in the Comox Valley for medicinal and therapeutic purposes for over 12 years.

NICC openly operated a dispensary at Ernie Yacub’s rented home at 719 Sixth St. in Courtenay for over seven years with no police intervention until it was suddenly raided in February 2011. Yacub, a longtime resident of the Comox Valley who has never been in trouble with the law, has been charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking,

Despite being well-informed that NICC was opening a dispensary, the RCMP never previously came to the house for any reason except once to inform the residents that they were investigating a crackhouse around the corner.

Many NICC members who rely on cannabis for their critical and chronic illnesses were traumatized by the raid and their fear of the police has led them to seek other providers, often turning to street dealers for more expensive and poorer quality marijuana or, worse, suffering without medicine.

“I welcome the opportunity to inform people that the law is broken. It’s wrong,” Yacub said Thursday. “People have a right to this medicine which does all kind of amazing, wonderful things for people. It’s a plant. That’s all it is.”

Yacub’s lawyer, Kirk Tousaw of Cobble Hill, has successfully litigated several Charter challenges to the validity of the federal government’s medical marijuana program.

“It is outrageous that taxpayer dollars continue to be wasted investigating, arresting and prosecuting legitimate medical marijuana providers, particularly when the Health Canada scheme has repeatedly been found unconstitutional in the Courts,” Tousaw said. “On 18 July we filed a Notice of Constitutional Question and will ask the court to throw out the charges against Mr. Yacub and, again, rule that the federal government’s restrictive scheme violates the Charter rights of the NICC membership.”

Many people are under the illusion that possession of marijuana is legal in B.C., that medical use is supported by the government, and that compassion clubs are legal dispensaries. As it turns out, medical marijuana dispensaries like NICC have come under fire repeatedly in recently months.

“We fully expect to demonstrate to the provincial court here in Courtenay that the system the federal government has set up be ineffective and continues to deny patients the ability to access this safe and effect natural health product,” Tousaw explained. “We hope that a successful result in this case will finally drive home to the Harper Conservative government that Canadians — critically and chronically ill Canadians — deserve safe, unfettered access to medical marijuana to treat their serious symptoms and conditions.”

He added the case is another in a long series of Charter challenges.

“I fully anticipate that Mr. Yacub’s actions will be vindicated by the court and that the government will again be told to fix its broken system,” says Tousaw.

Yacub will return to court Aug. 23 to fix a date for trial.

— With a file from North Island Compassion Club

Just Posted

NIC’s new president Lisa Domae assumed the role of president on April 12. Domae has worked at NIC since 2000, most recently as the executive vice president, academic and chief operating officer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
New North Island College president launches draft strategic plan

Lisa Domae assumed the role of president on April 12, 2021

Capt. Jenn Casey died in a crash just outside of Kamloops, B.C., on May 17, 2020. (CF Snowbirds)
Snowbirds to honour Capt. Casey, who died in B.C. crash, in 2021 tour

Tour will kick off in Ontario in June before heading west

Artist's drawing of the proposed 52-unit affordable seniors housing project in Comox. File photo
Comox Valley Affordable Housing Society receives federal grant money

The Comox Valley Affordable Housing Society (CVAHS) has received $25,000 in grant… Continue reading

Mark Henderson’s exhibit, “Bikes and Barbies,” is now showing at Artful : The Gallery on Cumberland Road in Courtenay. Photo supplied.
New exhibit at Courtenay art gallery

Artful : The Gallery is showing art by Mark Henderson until Saturday,… Continue reading

Charles Hawkswell, Commander, of the Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron, presents a $1,000 cheque to the Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society. File photo
Comox removing moorage fees, hydro for Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society

Last year, the unit and society responded to more than 50 rescue missions in the past year

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

More “strings of lights” were seen on May 15, 2021, in night sky over Vancouver Island. (File photo)
Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Most Read