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Cannabis advocates preach to converted

By Hempology | March 19, 2002

From the TIMES COLONIST, March 18, 2002

By Cindy E. Harnett

Reefer madness was alive and thriving at the Third Annual Cannabis Convention in Victoria on

But the crazed high had nothing to do with smoking marijuana. Rather, it came from talking
about it.

If there was a sterotype personified at the convention at Camosun College, it was not that of a
Rasta-haired, doobie-rolling dropout.

The sterotype apparent was that of the over-eager advocate expelling the fine-print and
statistics from every badly reproduced pamphlet to major North American study on the myths
of marijuana.

The seven scheduled speakers and delegates drifting the halls took every opportunity
to extoll the virtues of ingesting hemp and smoking cannabis.

However, the myths are likely to persist as even organizer Ted Smith admitted that
despite a good turnout for the convention, for the most part “we’re preaching to the

Smith, of Victoria’s Hempology 101 Society, and others who want to see the hemp industy
expand and marijuana legalized, hold out hope that if they continue to bolster the efforts
of the converted, challenge the government through a court system, and speak out, change
will come.

“I would rather the 60 per cent who do (believe) get together, get active and get empowered,”
said Smith.

James Geiwitz, who has a doctorate in experimental psychology from the University of Michigan,
says the same “junk science” used in the 1960s to attack legitimate scientists researching
the tobacco-cancer link is the same faulty science used to suggest hemp and marijuana is bad
for one’s health.

“There are absolutely no health risks associated with hemp foods,” said Geiwitz.

Smoking B.C. bud on a regular basis will cause slight lung damage and respiratory problems
but it has never been proven to lead to cancer or emphysema, said Geiwitz, one of seven
scheduled speakers.

On the healthy side, Eric Hughes, representing Zima Foods Inc., promoted hemp foods as the
only vegetable protein to cotnain all nine essential amino acids and a balance of the
essential fatty acids – Omega 3, 6, and 9.

Hughes sells his products in stores like Lifestyles Market. He encouraged convention delegates
to support the industry so that it can be legitimized and grow.

The chemical difference between marijuana and hemp is marijuana has as a main ingredient the
natural drug tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the plant can be bred to have elevated amounts. Hemp
has trace amounts.

Hughes doesn’t smoke marijuana. “I don’t have the need for an intoxicant in my life,” he said.

However, Bruce Torrie does need a break from reality – pain.

A former lawyer, Torrie smokes about 10 joints a day to relieve extreme back pain he suffered as
a result of a head-on car collision in 1989, he said.

Marijuana is a far less harmful muscle relaxant than many of the anti-inflamatories and pain
killers on the market, said Torrie, who has a prescription for cannabis.

“They estimate in between one and five million North Americans die each year from complications
from taking non-steroidal anti-infammatories,” said Torrie.

To cope with the discomfort, Torrie lay on the floor off to the side fo the speaker’s podium.

Wrapping up the convention was Marc Emery, president of the B.C. Marijuana Party, who has appeared in the
Wall Street Journal for his activism and business acumen. Emery is the publisher of
Cannabis Culture magazine and owner of

After running a full slate of candidates in the last provincial election, Emery plans to run for
mayor of the City of Vancouver in November.

The civil rights activist believes in less government everywhere – in the bedroom, smoking room
and classroom.

Despite his efforts for individual rights, Emery, who has 20 convictions for pot-related activities
in B.C., says at a time when educational material about the benefits of hemp and cannabis abounds,
the crackdown to criminalize smoking marijuana seems to be as strong as ever.

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