PRIVATE CLUB OFFERS POT IN MONTREAL
MONTREAL (CUP) - A new private club recently opened its doors in Montreal, providing a place for medicinal marijuana users to blaze.
According to Compassion Club owner David McKenzie, the purpose of the club is twofold: to serve as a place for medicinal marijuana users to buy and smoke weed, as well as a destination for people who want to avoid the rowdy bar scene.
McKenzie insisted the Compassion Club would remain alcohol-free. He said he has already returned the venue's alcohol license to the city and would not tolerate any drunken behaviour in the club.
"I gave back the alcohol license; alcohol and pot don't mix," he said. "If you want to eat some chicken wings and smoke a joint, no problem. But if you show up drunk, I won't let you in, and no hard drugs."
McKenzie stressed while the club houses a lounge for recreational marijuana smokers, he would not allow the sale of any drugs among those users.
"I am not selling pot to people who are smoking for pleasure. You can't sell a joint here, because if you do, I'll hold you 'till the cops get here," he said.
The consumption and sale of marijuana are illegal under current Quebec law.
McKenzie said he does not believe he is violating any laws, arguing he is providing medicine, not illicit drugs.
"I don't think what I am doing is illegal. I am offering a service that the government will not, and does not, offer properly," he said.
Medicinal marijuana users can only legally obtain pot from government suppliers, and only after being given explicit permission from doctors and city hall.
McKenzie said club members who wish to purchase marijuana have to show permission from a doctor, as well as a notarized letter from the government.
Sgt. Stephen Dufault of the Montreal police said they have not yet decided what kind of legal action they will take on the matter.
"No one is allowed to smoke pot. (McKenzie) knows that he is going against the law, so he can't be surprised if we arrest him," said Dufault.
He added patrons of the club should be aware that although the club might not be shut down immediately, anyone caught smoking in the club would be subject to arrest.
"You are not allowed to smoke pot, so if people are smoking pot in the club, then we will have to arrest them for possession," said Dufault. "If you go to a bar and smoke pot, you're not going to get caught because there aren't cops all around, but at a club like this, there will be."
McKenzie said while he recognizes the risks involved with running the club, he thinks an establishment like it is necessary in Montreal.
"I'm taking a big chance all the way around, with my freedom, livelihood, with everything. But that's what life is about, isn't it?" said McKenzie.
The Compassion Club is a private club open only to members. Membership is free, and available to people 18 and over with two pieces of valid ID.
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