Recent Articles

Recent Comments

« | Main | »

Pot activist could file appeal from jail after sentencing for drug trafficking

By Hempology | January 28, 2005

Marijuana activist Ted Smith hopes to challenge Canada’s drug laws in the nation’s highest court. But he may be filing his appeal from a prison cell after a Provincial Court judge sentences him next week for trafficking — a conviction that carries a maximum five-year jail term.

By Robyn Swanson
Victoria News

“People don’t know you can be charged with trafficking for sharing a joint,” he told the Victoria News Monday. “In order to raise awareness, even enrage people, I’ve had to challenge these laws.”
His sentiments came in the wake of a guilty finding by Judge Judith Kay Thursday in Victoria’s court house. She issued her decision after a two-day trial surrounding allegations that Smith passed around marijuana joints during a meeting on UVic’s campus in November 2000.
The cannabis advocate’s Hempology 101 club meetings were held every Tuesday, but on this occasion plain-clothed police were present to investigate a complaint. While there, they watched as Smith removed a joint from his briefcase, lit it and passed it through the crowd. He then pulled out another five, lighting each one and circulating them among the spectators.
“He was very publicly flouting the law,” the judge said. “I find his behavior was intended to provoke a reaction from authorities.”
It worked. Police arrested Smith, seizing seven to eight grams of marijuana. He was subsequently charged with trafficking and possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, but the latter charge was later stayed by the court.
At trial Smith argued that his case fell within the legal boundaries that permit certain individuals the right to consume marijuana due to an outstanding medical condition. However, Kay rejected his position, stating there was no evidence presented to support the claim. She also rejected the remainder of Smith’s arguments that his Charter rights — including freedom of conscience, assembly, thought and expression — had been violated.
“He was arrested not for this thoughts, but for his actions. Had he only been talking and not giving out these cigarettes, he would not be before this court,” Kay said to the small group of supporters and onlookers.
According to Smith, he was singled out by police and targeted for arrest. But the judge deemed his arrest was not “capricious, despotic or unlawful,” since the officers were responding to a specific complaint and witnessed the crime take place.
Under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, trafficking is defined as selling, administering, giving, transferring, transporting, sending or delivering the narcotic.
Applying that definition, the judge decided Smith gave or transferred substances to others at the gathering.
“Mr. Smith knew he was flouting the law. He did so openly and routinely,” she added.
Despite the outcome, the long-time marijuana user showed no signs of abandoning his battle to overturn the legislation.
“This has to be the most illogical, irrational group of laws this country has,” he said outside Victoria’s court house. “If I’m the scapegoat in this campaign, that’s something I stood up to the plate for. The fight goes on.”
Smith returns to court Feb. 2 for sentencing.

Topics: Articles | Comments Off

Comments are closed.