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Letter to Anne McLellan

By Ted | May 27, 2002

more by Ted Smith

By Ted Smith

Head Consultant,
Victoria’s Hempology 101 Society

Monday, May 27, 2002


Recent events in Victoria compel me to address you with certain concerns and ideas
regarding the cannabis laws, particularily the medicinal use of this herb.

This letter is a formal request from the Cannabis Buyers’ Clubs of Canada headquarters
in Victoria for an official visit from a Health Canada representative. We recognize numerous
complex issues hinder relations between our group and the government in general. However,
we hope this letter encourages more positive interaction by informing Health Canada as to
our activities in preparation for planned city council meetings.

The Victoria City Council and police board have requested a presentation from
Health Canada to explain the legal status of cannabis after several raids
this year at the headquarters of the Cannabis Buyers’ Clubs of Canada. This situation has
evolved over 7 years, during which time I have been
with Victoria’s Hempology 101 Society educating the public about hemp, marijuana, and
while medicating individuals with incurable medical problems. Until recently, the majority
of my written and personal communications with the government have occurred at the local and
provincial level as
the attached letter to the chief of police shows. However, several arrests,
combined with other timely political situations seem to
require myself and the groups I work with to request a more formal relationship with Health Canada.

Since January 1996, the Cannabis Buyers’ Clubs of Canada has provided cannabis and cannabis-based
products to people with incurable medical problems. First in Victoria, and now with branches
in Coombs-Parksville, BC, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, we serve over 1,000 people coast-to-coast.
We began this endeavour anticipating changes in government laws, but realistically predicted change would
come from the courts based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While we applaud the small
steps Health Canada has made towards legalization, we have remained sceptical and cautious of the
federal government. Instead of focusing upon complicated legal arguments with Health Canada, we
have concentrated upon the health of our members and gaining the support of local communities.

Since New Years Day, police actions have resulted in several Trafficking and Possession for the
Purpose of Trafficking charges being laid against myself and others involved with the Cannabis
Buyers’ Clubs of Canada in Victoria.
Since the beginning our position has been that cannabis should be legally available to the public,
with the government assisting those in medical need. In the meantime,
the Cannabis Buyers’ Clubs of Canada has strictly distributed to people with incurable medical problems,
as you will hear from the police.

We certainly would like a temporary operating permit. Our ultimate
goal however, is for the government to distribute cannabis to those in medical need, if they cannot
grow their own. Established institutional medical regimes will resist changing current regulating mechanisms
to include cannabis in the medicine cabinet. However, cannabis will gradually change the medical system
by simply improving the general economic, emotional and physical health of the population. Changes to
western medical institutions are too slow for those who need medicine today,
creating an awkward situation for everyone involved.
We are keenly aware of the risks involved with our activities, but we are willing to suffer
the possible consequences of our actions rather than live with the knowledge people are dying
without medicine.
Clubs like the Cannabis Buyers’ Clubs of
Canada are providing a bridge between war and peace, assisting chronically ill citizens we feel like refugees
within their own country.

Fortunately, the courts in Canada are beginning to recognize the importance of cannabis for those
with severe medical problems and that the prohibition laws
appear more unreasonable every day. I have now been arrested 4 times and charged with 6 trafficking
charges, with a potential maximum sentence of slightly less than 30 years. I will stand before the courts
to begin arguing a constitutional challenge against the trafficking laws, if the Supreme Court
of Canada leaves any cannabis laws after it decides upon the Caine, Clay, and Malmo-Levine case.
Expert witnessess will argue the laws prohibiting cannabis use are applied in an arbitrary,
unreasonable and inhumane manner. My freedom today is proof the courts recognize the serious
fundamental problems occuring in the application of cannabis prohibition laws.

Victoria City Council recently passed a motion recognizing the medicinal value of this plant,
urging the federal government to stop treating sick people as criminals. While the city has
no direct influence over the federal government, the Mayor is the chair of the police board and
cities are responsible for issuing business licenses. Local police resources allocated towards
prosecuting cannabis growers and
smokers diverts enforcement efforts from serious crimes such as murder, theft and terrorism, while
causing enormous, unnecessary suffering and loss in peoples’ lives. As municipal governments join
the struggle against these oppressive federal laws, some interesting opportunities present themselves.
The upcoming public meeting between Health Canada, Victoria City Councillors, police and
law enforcement bureaucrats certainly opens many potential developments.

The Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs has recently published a discussion paper which presents
their research concerning the psychoactive cousin of the cannabis plant. The committee listened to
everyone willing and able to speak on the subject. After much work,
the Senate stated what advocates have been saying for years; that cannabis is not addictive or a gateway
drug; does not induce people to commit other crimes; has some medicinal benefits with few problems for
chronic users; drivers have slower reactions, while taking less risks
at reduced speed; and youth who will develop problems with cannabis have other problems
not always associated with drug use, usually stemming from traumatic life experiences
or drug experimentation based on rebellion. While the final
report containing recommendations to the federal government will not be available until August, the scientific
results concluded are final.

Considering the circumstances, we feel it appropriate and neccessary to arrange a meeting between myself,
Health Canada officials and members of the Cannabis Buyers’ Clubs of Canada before the public
presentation at City Hall. Apparently, under the leadership of Alan Rock, several visits from Health
Canada officials occurred at different clubs across the country. Though Health Canada might not feel as
enthusiastic about cannabis under your leadership, Anne McLellan, you should be obligated to act in the best
interests of Canadians. In this case, the local community, courts, and city council support cannabis
as a medicine in general, but the laws allow police to continue harassing and arresting individuals
involved in the growing, distribution, and use of cannabis for those who need it as medicine.
The only governing body able to clarify the situation, if not resolve the problems entirely,
is Health Canada.

Many people have died, and are unneccessarily suffering, while Health Canada stumbles and stalls with
it’s medicinal cannabis programs. Communities like Victoria are demanding explanations from the government
on this issue since society recognizes that sick and disabled citizens should have access to

Please, do not continue to isolate medical cannabis users and suppliers. We ask that you visit the Cannabis Buyers’ Clubs
of Canada before the public meeting at Victoria City Hall. Prove you are listening to the suffering
of Canadians, that you have some compassion and that you are prepared to step forward in the progression
towards full access to cannabis for those in medical need. We look forward to your reply.


Leon “Ted” Smith

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