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Ted Smith – Angel Of Mercy Or Drug Dealer?

By admin | September 19, 2004

By Richard Watts
Times Colonist staff.

He’s medical marijuana’s own Mother Teresa for some. But to police and prosecutors he’s just another drug dealer breaking the law.

Ted Smith, founder of a Victoria compassion club known as the Cannabis Buyers Club, managed to beat one trafficking charge last week when a provincial court judge stayed the charges.

Judge Loretta Chaperon said it was unfair of the federal government to allow people to use marijuana as medicine while at the same time not providing them with legal access.

And with that ruling behind them, Smith and his club are still in operation at their Johnson Street storefront, providing marijuana for clients/members who need only supply written proof of a chronic medical condition to gain access to a supply.

But Smith still faces several more marijuana charges which are working their way through the court

Police raided the store twice in 2002, and the courts have yet to deal with the second charge. Smith is also facing trafficking charges for passing a joint at a pro-marijuana political rally in 2000. And he faces another trafficking charge for passing out marijuana cookies.

Even now, after Chaperon’s decision, Victoria police insist there is no grey area when it comes to passing out marijuana, medical or otherwise. It’s drug dealing, they say, and it is breaking the law.

Smith may have beaten that first charge, because it was laid before the federal government had arranged its supply of marijuana. The government now pays to grow its own pot in a disused mine shaft in Manitoba, so a legitimate supply is available, even if marijuna advocates like Smith distrust its quality.

Victoria police Insp. Grant Smith said that if his department receives information that Smith is dealing in marijuana, it would be obliged to take appropriate action after consultation with Crown counsel.

“They are breaking the law,” said Smith. “That’s it.”

Meanwhile, the owner of Da Kine Smoke and Beverage Shop, a similar operation in Vancouver, was arrested Thursday for the second time this month. Police raided the cafe on Sept. 9 after reports circulated that it was selling marijuana. Owner Carol Gwilt and six employees were arrested and charged with drug offences. Donald Briere, founder of the Canadian Sanctuary Society which supplied marijuana to the cafe, was arrested on Sunday.

Victoria lawyer Robert Moore-Stewart, Ted Smith’s defense counsel and the first one to publically liken his client to Mother Teresa, calls what is happening a “civil war.”

Its casualties are the 700,000 Canadians who, said Moore-Stewart, quoting from a recent Senate report, have been saddled with criminal records because of marijuana charges.

“Ted (Smith) is a small flashpoint,” said Moore-Stewart. “We have an endemic civil war on our hands and it’s time to call an end.”

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