Having access to medical marijuana has given Grant Bruce his life back and that’s a chance he wants to provide to his clients at the Amber Light Compassion Society in Cawston.
Bruce, who’s lived in Cawston for the past several years, was born with epilepsy. Since a baby Bruce has suffered from grand mal seizures.
In the 1980s without any other options doctors and his mother turned to synthetic heroin to slow down the number of seizures he suffered.
“I turned into an addict at two years old. I’ve suffered with addiction my who life, from food addictions and having eating disorders caused by opiates,” he said.
In the late 90s he started experimenting with marijuana and found that that helped his epileptic symptoms.
Now at 36, Grant uses only medical marijuana to reduce the number of seizures.
“I still have seizures from time to time but not so regularly I can’t live my life,” he said. “I have a life style that doesn’t include any pharmaceuticals.”
Originally hailing from Northern Manitoba, Bruce moved to Cawston about three years ago to be closer to his children. He previously worked in the Alberta oil patch for about 15 years and then worked as an arborist/logger for a local Cawston company.
Bruce opened the Amber Light Compassion Club in the beginning of October. Since then more than 200 qualified clients have signed up so they can purchase and edible medical grade marijuana from the store.
Clients must have a doctor’s form filled out to be eligible to join the club, be 19 years or older and come with two pieces of identification, at least one with photo.
Although he buys his products from certified organic growers, Bruce says he tests all products he sells at the store to ensure there are no other chemicals in them.
“Even from qualified growers trace chemicals can be found. I test everything that we sell,” he said. “Everything is safe.”
Prior to opening the store in Cawston he attempted to open a similar store in Osoyoos. He was visited by the police within three days of opening and voluntarily decided to close.
Bruce was determined to open a store and make it a viable business that helps other people.
“For me it’s a human rights issue. I don’t think the government should tell us what we can ingest or that this medicine is legal and this other medicine that I would rather use is not.”
“I’ve had good friends jailed for this – taking medicine. They didn’t deserve to be locked away with murderers and rapists.”
Cpl. Brian Evans from the Keremeos RCMP detachment said he’s aware that the compassion club is open. He said he hasn’t yet visited the location but did say under current law selling marijuana in a store is illegal.
“We would caution anybody out there against selling marijuana. There is a current program through Health Canada where there are designated growers and suppliers… (that can sell) to legitimate clients. If they don’t have authorization from Health Canada it’s illegal.”
Current legislation allows those with a license, requiring proof from a doctor, to grow or have a designated person grow marijuana for them or to buy product online from a certified grower.
George Bush, Area B director, and the father of the owner of the building that Bruce rents, said he’s all for the store.
“Overall it’s great if it’s going to be a safe place to get medical marijuana,” he said. “I understand it’s a grey area legally.”
“I haven’t heard any concerns from people, my brother lives next door and I was concerned there might be problems. I haven’t heard any negative things about it. I’m just hoping that they keep it on the up and up.”