RCMP holding N.L. man's medicinal marijuana
BY BARB SWEET, ST. JOHN TELEGRAM
ST. JOHN'S - A St. John's man had a shipment of medical marijuana confiscated when he went to pick up a package at a courier outlet and was met instead by the RCMP.
Richard Oakley, who tested positive for HIV 25 years ago, moved back to the province from British Columbia three months ago to be near family.
He has approval from Health Canada to take medical marijuana.
He said he received the first package since coming home without a problem from his designated grower in B.C.
But last week, when he tried to claim his second delivery of marijuana and marijuana-laced chocolates, Purolator told him to come back Monday. That's when he was met with the RCMP officer.
Oakley, a longtime volunteer AIDS activist in B.C., said he then got a call saying it was shipped illegally.
``They're going against my civil rights as a human being. They are taking away my quality of life,'' Oakley said, sifting through a stack of papers chronicling his diagnosis and access to treatment, including marijuana.
``I don't want to cause any trouble. I just want to live my life,'' he said.
``It took years and years to get the licence.''
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Boyd Merrill confirmed the RCMP is investigating.
Authorities said they're trying to determine whether the supplier of the drugs is registered under Health Canada's guidelines before handing the package over to Oakley.
No charges are being considered at this point, Merrill said.
Oakley said he understood as long as the package doesn't smell and doesn't advertise its contents, it should be acceptable.
He said the marijuana eases his nausea from taking a cocktail of medicine, and relieves his pain.
He also has neuropathy, which freezes nerves in his feet. The marijuana helps him go for walks and keep the blood flowing, he said.
Oakley said that since his supply was taken, he hasn't been able to endure his pills.
``I'm getting sicker by the minute. I can't take my medication without throwing up,'' said Oakley,
He warned that if the symptoms of his disease flare up, it will cost the Newfoundland government a lot of money to take care of him.
Susan Munn, Purolator's national director of security and loss prevention, said the courier company doesn't have access to an approved grower's list and cannot identify whether a package is illegal under federal narcotics laws or legal under medical marijuana regulations.
But she said if it's suspicious or damaged, the company is obligated to notify police.
According to Health Canada, one company has a contract through the federal government to supply medical marijuana.
Oakley said he doesn't deal with the federal supplier, but has the designated grower in B.C.
Oakley left home at 13 when his mother died and went to Calgary to live with an older brother.
He eventually ended up in B.C. Now, he said he wants to continue studies he left off years ago at Memorial University in Newfoundland, and be near his family in the province. He has a dozen siblings and they have numerous children and grandchildren between them all.
Oakley said he contracted HIV in the mid-to-late 1980s - the height of the AIDS crisis when a diagnosis was almost a certain death sentence. Oakley said he accidentally got pricked with a needle while helping care for people with the disease.
He said he suffers from survivor's guilt because of friends who have died.
``I'm after losing 200 people. I am a miracle,'' he said, adding he's had lymph node cancer and pneumonia that nearly killed him. A long scar under his jawline marks the place where the cancer was cut out.
He said doctors and the people at treatment centres have kept him going all these years.
``I've never spread it. I've always been into prevention and the quality of life of all involved,'' Oakley said.