HIV sufferer has medical marijuana confiscated

Barb Sweet
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A St. John’s man had $1,500 of medical marijuana confiscated when he went to pick up a package at Purolator and was met by the RCMP instead.

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 told The Telegram he received the first package since coming home without a problem from his designated grower in B.C.

But last week he kept trying to claim his second delivery of marijuana and marijuana-laced chocolates and Purolator told him to come back Monday. That’s when he was met with the RCMP officer.

Oakley said he was assured there’d be no problem. Then he 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.”

Oakley said he understood as long as the package doesn’t smell and doesn’t advertise its contents, it should be acceptable.

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 also eases that so he can go for walks and keep the blood flowing.

Since his supply was taken, he hasn’t been able to endure his pills, said Oakley, a longtime volunteer AIDS activist in B.C.

“I’m getting sicker by the minute. I can’t take my medication without throwing up,” said Oakley, who has an authorization from Health Canada for medical marijuana.

“It took years and years to get the licence,” he said.

He warns if the disease takes over, it will cost the Newfoundland government a lot of money to take care of him.

Oakley left home at 13 when his mother died and went to Calgary to live with an older brother, who has since moved to Nova Scotia. He eventually ended up in B.C. and wants to continue studies he left off years ago at MUN, as well as be near his family here — 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 always took care to be tested and got accidently popped 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.

But he worries the seriousness of HIV and AIDS is leaving the public consciousness because it can be treated and people’s lives pcan be rolonged.

He also worries about the implications for the spread of the disease through addictions to drugs like OxyContin where people may share needles.

“I am really concerned about Newfoundland. They are shooting up OxyContins and doing all kinds of things and hiding the fact AIDS is here...Everybody wants to put it in the closet,” Oakley said, adding people may no longer be as worried about spreading the disease through unprotected sex.

“A lot of mainlanders come here. They got it (AIDS and HIV) and they don’t care, some of them.”

He said there should be mandatory AIDS testing for prostitutes and addicts and anyone else at risk.

RCMP media spokesman Sgt. Boyd Merrill confirmed Wednesday the RCMP is investigating the matter involving Oakley’s package and believes the licence was properly obtained.

However, the RCMP is trying to determine if the supplier of the drugs is registered under Health Canada’s guidelines before it considers handing the package over to Oakley.

No charges are being considered at this point, Merrill said.

Purolator national director of security and loss prevention Susan Munn 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.

Organizations: RCMP, Purolator, Health Canada

Geographic location: B.C., British Columbia, Newfoundland Calgary Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Bob Dillman
    November 28, 2011 - 09:36

    and this sort of thing surprizes you? this is what its come down to, my personal meds were confiscated this month and even though my papers were in order the rcmp and canada post all screwed me over and ive been fighting all this month to get my medicine . This means all of canadas patients over 12 thousand should all start litigating against the human rights violations that this government of all levels have been doing , and the rcmp should be penalized for taking it in the first place. ITS A CRMINAL ACT THEYRE DOING!!!!! this is whats over looked.

  • Richard Oakley
    July 08, 2011 - 09:41

    i am the person who needs my meds now i am already feeling very sick and its only getting worse the officer told me that there should be no problem getting a bit of weed here practically telling me to perpetuated a crime...........since then i don't kno what to think these are the ones suppose to protect us I AM SCARED FOR SOCIETY ESP THE SICK I WAS MY OWN DESIGNATED GROWER AND HAD A FRIEND SHIP IT TO ME LOVE YOU ALL KTHANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

  • Daren
    July 07, 2011 - 23:50

    Purolator and Canada Post have nothing to do with each other. Everything is separate.

  • RRAK
    July 07, 2011 - 22:38

    There is so many things wrong with this whole situation that I find myself unable to stay silent. First of all, I understand that everyone is ticked off with Purolator but they are only keeping the public's best interest at heart. If they were allowing packages to be delivered that contained cocaine or heaven forbid, child pornography, you would all be on their case for not checking packages properly. That being said, I totally agree with all of you in regards to giving Mr Oakley back his marijuana. If he has proven that he is legally allowed it for medical reasons there should be no questions about returning it. I can't help but wonder if Mr Oakley needed it for any other reason than HIV/AIDS, would the RCMP still hold his medication on him? I watch my son go through pain every day of his life and have always said that when he comes of age (only 11 years to go) that I will find a doctor to issue him a licence for his degenerative disease that is extremely painful. But now through this article I hear that the "Amazing" Harper is taking that away from all the patients who desperately need it. Can someone please explain his reasoning behind this? Other than the obvious of not being able to legalize it and tax it without losing votes from people that are anti-marijuana.

  • Mark
    July 07, 2011 - 22:00

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  • Val
    July 07, 2011 - 17:02

    What do you suppose would happen if we repealed all of the marijauna laws? One criminal empire will be destroyed .....that's all! STOP HARPER!!!! Stop making criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens. And give Richard back his medication right now!

  • Mike Dawe
    July 07, 2011 - 16:04

    I am absolutely disgusted by this! I run a group called the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Marijuana society. We help people find designated growers and teach patients how to grow, help with forms, whatever we can do within the confines that we have to work with. Recently passed amendments to the MMAR state that an individual can have a signing doctor and a designated grower in other provinces. To question a mans health/honestly in this situation is deplorable, and the police involved should be ashamed! And Russel, yes dark times are ahead for us, I'm licensed to grow my own and a supply for another patient, I have Marfan Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes the connective tissue in the entire body stretch and weaken over time. This is the only medication I am allowed to use for pain due to other conflicting "traditional s". What Harper wants to do will destroy our lives, there is a comment e-mail at the bottom of this page with the recommended changes, please people, write and express your concerns.

  • Jarvis
    July 07, 2011 - 13:43

    It's either time for the RCMP to buck up and learn the law (did I really just have to say that?) or there's room in the market for a courier service that strictly deals with RX products that doesn't pawn off to Government Post & their Puro buddies.

  • brian
    July 07, 2011 - 13:19

    Harper and his right wing government has a lot to answer for ,,,come on people ,call your elected members of parliment ,call your radio stations someone needs to help this man!!! Where is the out cry from mrs harper , or do she only support shelters for animals?Where is the nf.government on this issue or maybe they just want to sweep it under the rug.... WHO WILL BE NEXT??? "BOYCOTT PUROLATER" go after their bottom line ..MONEY lets get this story out there PEOPLE!! and get this mans medication back .concerned and outraged over the police action

  • Where's Leo
    July 07, 2011 - 13:08

    I say flood his house out after surrounding 3 sides of it.

    • jennifer
      July 07, 2011 - 13:21

      I love it haha

  • Kieran
    July 07, 2011 - 13:02

    END PROHIBITION NOW!! The "war" on drugs is a farce, and we can see in this story how a patient is made to suffer because of the stupid drug laws. I say legalize drugs, sell them in the liquor store like booze and collect taxes on them.

  • Missus
    July 07, 2011 - 12:44

    So if they package is supposed to have no scent or distinguishing factors, I guess Purolator opened it and checked what was there? You have to wonder about the ethics of staff at Purolator

  • The Weed man
    July 07, 2011 - 10:07

    So if the cops think my medication is ilegal, they can confiscate it and figure it out all while I am refused medication. Give him the weed and then investigate. Better yet, he'll just go underground supporting the crooks here.

  • Dave
    July 07, 2011 - 09:32

    Dear Purolator, mind ya business!

    • Jack
      July 07, 2011 - 11:09

      Since Purolator is Canada Post owned, go after Canada Post as well.

  • Dee Martin
    July 07, 2011 - 08:17

    Seriously, it must be a slow day for the RCMP or wait, maybe this is easier then getting the really bad criminals! and what business does Purolator have to get involved.

  • Jean
    July 07, 2011 - 08:00

    I'm sure there is a lot of red tape to go thru and I agree with seems this man has ample proof it is a medical necissity.....Give him back his "prescribed" drugs and do an investigation...don't let him suffer any more then he has too....that is just plain wrong!!

  • Russell Barth
    July 07, 2011 - 07:13

    I have been a Federally Licensed Medical Marijuana User and activist for 9 years, and my advice to Richard Oakley is to do what my wife and I have been doing since May 2nd: Get his affairs in order! The Medical Marijuana Program at Health Canada will be shut down very soon - most likely before the end of the year. Because of numerous court rulings that have struck the program down as unconstitutional, and Stephen Harper's wildly irrational love of Prohibition, we can expect to see the program shut down as soon as this winter. Yes, this would leave thousands of sick people without medicine, and/or breaking the law. Yes, this would be a violation of our Charter rights and a number of court rulings that established those rights. But, as we have seen, this government has no use for laws and court rulings that don't suit their agenda. Harper hates the medical users because we completely undermine that entire agenda. The government and cops say pot is dangerous, and we prove them wrong by getting healthier! I use ten grams a day, for example, and my health has only improved! The cops say it is impossible to grow pot safely, but thousands of us have been doing it for years! They hate us because we represent the Human Rights foot-in-the-door towards full-on legalization, and that is why the RCMP are beginning to clamp down on us. Let's face it, if it weren't for The War On Certain Drugs, we wouldn't even really need the RCMP at all. Besides that, using the military to wage a "war" against the citizens of it's own country is not only unconstitutional, it is in violation of a number of international laws. This arrest, the numerous compassion club busts across the nation over the past two months, and the promise last month by Health Canada to take away our grow permits should be evidence enough that The Big Pot-Head Round-Up is finally underway! Medical marijuana in Canada died on May 2nd. It is just a matter of time before we are all classified as criminals once again. The question is, how many of us will die at the hands of this government? Russell Barth Educators For Sensible Drug Policy Federally Licensed Medical Marijuana User

    July 07, 2011 - 06:42

    Don't the cops have anything better to do? Give this man his weed and be done with it!

    • Concerned
      July 07, 2011 - 13:21

      This is rather concerning to think that Purolator (Canada Post in General) are opening people's mail. I wonder is this why people don't receive their mail at times or their Christmas packages. Maybe these are the ones who are taking the missing parcels.

    • Richard Oakley
      July 08, 2011 - 10:12

      i grew the weed myself i am my own designated grower give me my medicine and have some compassion my friend sent me my meds which i love with all my heart i feel let down by this systeem i will die soon thx Mr Harper i hope that yu don't go through what i have all my life