KAMLOOPS, B.C. - The long legal journey has begun for the owner-operator of a Kamloops, B.C., compassion club as he challenges the legality of Canada's marijuana laws.
The trial began Monday for Carl Anderson and his business partner Wesley Jenkins who are each facing one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
But Anderson also plans to launch a constitutional challenge to the federal law banning such non-profit clubs from selling unsanctioned medicinal marijuana, saying the current regime violates patients' charter rights.
Provincial court Judge Stella Frame noted the trial and subsequent constitutional challenge mark what is likely to be a lengthy court battle through multiple levels of appeal.
"I'm mindful this is just the starting point," she said.
The charges stem from an RCMP raid on the club in 2011.
Crown lawyer Lesley Ann Kilgore told Frame the Crown will prove the accused had knowledge and control of about three kilograms of marijuana that police found in a deli-style case in the storefront operation.
If the Crown is successful, the case will move into its second phase, which is the constitutional challenge of Canada's marijuana laws for medicinal users.
More than 37,000 Canadians are authorized to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Patients with a prescription were previously allowed to grow their own pot, designate another grower or buy it from Health Canada, but many so-called compassion clubs opened across the country to provide it to medical users.
Beginning April 1, medicinal marijuana users will no longer have to buy pot from Health Canada's one approved supplier but will be restricted to buying from a list of approved growers.
(Kamloops This Week, CFJC, The Canadian Press)
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