On January 12, a 28-year-old man named Wegadesk Gorup-Paul was pulled over for speeding nearby a ferry terminal in British Columbia. He was allegedly going 87 kilometres an hour when the speed limit shifted down to a 50-kilometre per hour zone. While it may initially have seemed like a routine traffic stop, Gorup-Paul then had his car searched by police—he says without a warrant—and cops found what they estimated to be around $100,000 worth of cannabis products including weed, hash, and shatter.
According to Gorup-Paul, however, he was working as a delivery person for a medical marijuana producer transporting products to medical dispensaries, hence the amount he was carrying in his car. Despite his explanation, Gorup-Paul has a court date on March 9 where he will face a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking a controlled substance, which has a maximum penalty of life in prison.
"This industry has been given both the OK on the production side, and obviously the government has acknowledged that it is a healing medicine and that people need to have access to it," Gorup-Paul told VICE. "So how is it that people are supposed to get that medicine if people can't deliver it?"
Current Health Canada regulations state that for the six BC-based Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation (MMPR)-licensed companies in existence, distribution to consumers is only allowed through the mail.
Gorup-Paul is known for his past as an internationally competing elite diver. "Numerous National and International titles provided the accomplishments necessary for me to speak publicly... my experiences as a First Nations child growing up amongst displaced people gave me much to talk about in regards to overcoming adversity and negativity," Gorup-Paul wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.
On top of Gorup-Paul's job working in the medical marijuana industry, he says he has also used cannabis to cope with alcoholism and sexual trauma he went through when he was younger. Gorup-Paul told VICE police cannot be blamed overall for what's happening to him, referencing an understanding that there is not yet a law in place to deal with his specific situation.
"Basically I'm just working with my lawyer to not go to jail and also, very importantly, to get the product back... I had a wholesale value of around $50,000 worth of stuff," he told VICE. "There are also a group of people who are [Marihuana for Medical Access Regulation] MMAR-licensed growers who are out of this product, and not even them, but also the dispensary and all the people who would be getting that medicine."
Gorup-Paul had his GoFundMe page shut down due to their terms and conditions for campaigns. Yesterday, he set up a Facebook support page to help with his legal fees and can now only accept email transfers from those wanting to give donations.
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