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Ted’s speech to the Canadian Senate

By Ted | November 8, 2001

more by Ted Smith

By Ted Smith

President, Victoria’s Hempology 101

  Wednesday, November 7th, 2001
To: Federal Senate of Canada, Committee on Illegal Drugs

Chair, Pierre Claude Nolin

From: Leon ‘Ted’ Smith

President, Victoria’s Hempology 101 Society


Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come for change.

The time has come for Canada to end the War On Drugs, the longest, most expensive, deadliest, and inhumane international conflict ever fought in known history.

This savage battle has turned child against parent, parent against kid, while neigbours and employees spy on each other. Addicts overdose and die forgotten, sick with AIDS and Hep C, while their dealers kill each other in the streets. Countless millions stare into space numbed by prescription drugs or alcohol, while sick and dying people are denied access to a easily grown plant. Young men waste their lives in jail for taking a chance working in a field which provides more money than the other options paying minimum wage, while retired generals and bankers trade weapons for drugs with desperate people all over the planet.

A good beginning to healing would be for Canada to pull it’s signature from the 1961 U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. As the USA is reconsidering it’s commitment to old international treaties, we should lead the world in regards to the issue of the non-medicinal use of drugs, starting by denouncing the War On Drugs as a failure and withdrawing Canada from this irrational agrement.

We are not the ony country reconsidering these draconian laws, as Jamacia, Portegul, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and recently even Britian have all legalized or decriminalized cannabis use for the general public, while Australia and even some American states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes. Harm reduction programs in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada are proving to save lives, cut medical costs, decrease crime and help people quit or control their addictions in humane ways.

Being the neighbour of the USA, and we all know full well that corporate America is the driving force behind the War On Drugs, Canada has a certain advantage over other places in the world in regards to international discussions of these issues. We should allow the world to take advantage of Canada’s influnce over the USA, and arrange to host an international convention examining the wide range of social and economic issues affected in the process of the production and consumption of non-medicinal, mind-altering substances.

From the very beginning it should be noted by everyone that while we consider the War On Drugs to be a failure, this does not necessarily mean we consider the use of all substances currently illegal to be good. We need to create individual systems of regulation and licencing in the production and consumption of each product. These regulations should respect an individuals right to self-medicate, with a doctor’s assistance, while also setting out practical guidelines for the production, distribution and taxation of those substances which are sold for non-medical reasons.

Each substance currently prohibited by the War On Drugs has a unique effect upon the consciousness and body, so each should be considered individually as we withdraw from the current model. At all times, the health of the general population should be of primary concern. While it is not the role of the government to produce and distribute these products, it is the government’s responsibility to licence and regulate the production, sale and distribution of commodities. If the acquisition of these substances is for recreational purposes, then the product should be taxed, and if being legitimately used as a medicine then no taxes should be applied. Health Canada should form a department which considers the non-medicinal use of mind-altering substances, which could include alcohol and other currently legal products. The expert physicians which help individuals in these areas of personal consumption should go through a rigourous training where the experience many of these substances offer is a requirement. Some products like cannabis and magic mushrooms could be taxed at a sizable profit to the government, while other drugs like heroin and cocaine should be given out under supervision at clinics. These systems of regluations would allow us to control the quality of the drugs being used, while helping everyone who has a substance abuse issue.

There are two reasons we need to withdraw from the 1961 U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. We cannot ignore the fact that the non-medical use of drugs is an international issue. While the supply of illegal substances generally is from a few countries, the demand for mind-altering substances is global, especially in the USA where vast quantities of these drugs are consumed, despite over 30 years of the War On Drugs.

The second reason we need to make such a clear statement to the world is so that Canadians can see that the government acknowledges the wishes of it’s citizens. Opinion polls clearly show a majority in favour of decriminalizing the simple possession of cannabis, with growing support for the full legalization of the plant and other methods of harm reduction. The courts in Canada are recognizing that the drug laws violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The demand for cannabis has created huge markets in areas like BC, where the estimated $6 billion per year industry fuels the economy more than any other commodity. The War On Drugs has failed and it’s time to wake up to smell the coffee.

In the meantime, many of us refuse to sit writing letters to politicians, hoping for change to come from the source of the problem. We have resorted to continual passive public resistance, putting our lives, property and reputation at risk to both the authorities and criminals who make a living under the current model.

Personally, I started to dedicate my life to fight prohibition over six years ago when I moved to Victoria in Sept 1995 to begin holding Hempology 101 meetings. I realized that the farming community that I grew up in had been hoodwinked by large US industries with plenty of lawyers, that Reefer Madness was destroying lives and the environment. I wanted my family to grow the hemp used in producing the paper needed for my writings.

Shortly after putting my life into the movement I began to meet seriously ill people who needed cannabis to deal with the pain and symptoms of their condition. Denis Peron and the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club inspired me, and with the help of a few friends, I started to supply medical marijuana in January of 1996. When the Vancouver Island Cannabis Buyer Club began handing out pamphlets with contact numbers it was the first time in Canada in modern times that cannabis was openly distributed, though it was strictly for medicinal purposes.

Now with over 700 members, VICBC is one of the largest medical marijuana providers in Canada, with a second chapter in Coombs and a growing interest in opening clubs across the country. Hundreds of people literally have their lives in our hands, as safe access to medicinal marijuana can improve physical and emotional difficulties in ways that cannot be measured in numbers.

I have a sad but simple example of the needless waste caused by the War On Drugs. A club member, who I will refer to by his first name, Doug, died this August the weekend before he received his welfare check. Doug’s death was caused by an epileptic seizure, the same condition which affects Terry Parker, a Canadian who used the courts to force Health Canada to scrap the old exemption system and come up with a new plan. In the three years since he has been allowed to grow and smoke marijuana, Terry has not had a single epileptic seizure, further ancedotal evidence that cannabis has medical value. Doug, however, did not have that exemption and went two full weeks without a toke because he did not have the money to buy a gram or two, all he would have needed to stay alive. His death could easily have been prevented if only a small amont of this herb was made available.

Since I began Hempology 101, I have heard and witnessed countless sad stories like Doug’s. The cumulative effect of watching people gain their health from using cannabis, combined with hearing about the amount of waste that the War On Drugs is causing in peoples lives, has driven me to the point where I am willing to consider a wide range of provocative actions designed to highlight the arbitrary, unreasonable and ineffective nature of the prohibition laws.

This attitude caused me to get arrested twice one year ago. The first arrest occured exactly one year ago today in fact, at the University of Victoria, where I was charged with trafficking for passing joints around a 420 circle. The second arrest happened one week later when I was grabbed and charged with possession for the purpose just before I was ready to give away 420 pot cookies at a publicized, annual event. The constitutional trials which I have been granted begin in January, 2002. My lawyer and expert witnesses are prepared to prove that the laws of Canada violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that they are arbitrary, disproportionate, unreasonable, and counter-productive, causing more harm than the actual use of the substance. While we use the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to undermine the War On Drugs in the courtroom, we will be filling the streets, media outlets and web-pages with messages of freedom and tolerance, health and prosperity. My refusal to bow to unjust laws has encouraged others, and I am certainly not the only independent activist inspiring the common people to openly defy their government with peaceful civil disobedience.

I tell you this not to gloat, but to warn this government that these laws are going to fail in court, as it has already failed in the hearts and minds of the people. And that until that day in court or in the Parliament comes, more and more people from all walks of life will also be putting their lives, property and repution on the line working against our own government. Young people, especially, are intolerant of the lies and hypocracy inherent in the War On Drugs. That is not to say, though, that young people are the only ones openly defying the law, as many have waited for over 40 years to see compassionate and intelligent drug policies and they are now rejoining the cannabis movement as victory draws near.

In conclusion, I urge you, the elders of the people’s representatives, to listen and pay careful attention to what is happening in the streets, in the cannabis climate in particular. I am giving you a copy of the textbook I have written for Hempology 101, which is available in full at our web-page at The efforts being wasted by the government maintaining the status quo continue to mount in economic and human costs, while open resistance to these laws spreads like a weed in fertile soil. Everyone from farmers demanding to grow this valuable crop, to globalization activists fighting corporate control, to grandmothers growing herbs in the garden, to defiant teenagers joining rallies being organized by old hippies and reggae bands, everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon in regards to legalization. We know in our heads we are right, we feel in our hearts we are strong, and we see with our lives that a better future is possible. Join us in the creation of that future. Stop the War On Drugs.

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