LESSON #11 : HISTORY OF Cannabis Buyers' Clubs of Canada - Part 2 

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[15] Mr. Smith is candid in admitting he is a crusader for legalization of marihuana for medical purposes and otherwise. He testified he had been running the Club for about 7 years out of an apartment. When this created problems, he says he was told by police to get a storefront which he did in 2001. In fact, he gave in evidence the name of the officer who told him this. Mr. Smith was very knowledgeable about the various diseases and conditions for which marihuana use could provide relief. He testified that he had decided as far back as November, 1995 to provide this service to sick people.

[16] Mr. Smith’s evidence, which I found completely credible, was that the police were well aware of what he was about but didn’t interfere because he was selling marihuana for medical purposes only. He said on numerous occasions undercover officers had come in and tried to buy drugs but were refused. He described the procedure used to qualify members. They had to produce photo identification, proof of a disability or disease for which marihuana could provide relief and in some cases a recommendation from doctor. For physical diseases proof of condition or disease was sufficient but for mental health problems a doctor’s note was needed.

[17] Mr. Smith’s evidence was that he and the other persons working at the Club were paid $10.00 an hour and operated 365 days a year because of the perceived need.

[18] At the time of the alleged offence the Government of Canada had responded to the Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Regina v. Parker (2000) 146 C.C.C. (3d) 193 which had held the prohibition against marihuana possession was unconstitutional absent a constitutionally acceptable medical exemption to that prohibition, by introducing the Medical Marihuana Access Regulations (MMAR). This set up a scheme whereby persons with a condition or disease for which marihuana could be an effective treatment could obtain an authorization to possess. What the MMAR did not however provide in January of 2002 was a reliable means by which persons in need could legally acquire their marihuana.

[19] Such people were thus forced to acquire their marihuana on the black market. It is unsettling to contemplate persons with AIDS or who are undergoing cancer treatment being forced to go down to the illegal drug emporium which operates in the downtown core of Victoria to acquire their marijuana from persons who are only in selling them drugs of unknown quality for a profit.  But on Jan 3, 2002, but for compassion clubs such as Mr. Smith’s, that was their only alternative.

[27] On the one hand, the Government was relying on these clubs to be the “unlicensed reliable supplier” of medical marihuana to those in need, while on the other hand it was criminalizing their actions and continuing to prosecute them. In so doing it was engendering a disrespect for the law and the administration of justice because of the fundamental unfairness of such a position.  REASONS FOR JUDGEMENT, Smith & Budda, Justice Chaperon, B.C. Provincial Court, Sept 7, 2004

But Ted Smith, founder of the Victoria-based Cannabis Buyers' Club of Canada, says it's not an accurate comparison.

"He's (PPS president Brent Zettl) comparing his average to the average THC content in stuff seized by police, not the average THC content in compassion clubs," Smith says. But the problem here is his compassion club doesn't do its own testing.

"It's debatable right, how much THC is in the pot we sell because we don't test it, but I think it's probably 16-17 per cent THC. Well, that five per cent difference (PPS cannabis has 12.5% THC) is quite substantial to people who are sick."

The big selling point for compassion clubs like Smith's are the variety of strains of pot and related products they sell. Currently the Cannabis Buyers' Club of Canada sells 22 different skin and food products and supplies medical marijuana to about 1,900 clients, mostly on Vancouver Island. Victoria News, BATTLE FOR BUD, by Andrea Lavigne, Nov 8, 2006.

Victoria’s mayor has thrown his support behind local medicinal pot users and called upon Health Canada to conduct an immediate review of how it provides medical marijuana to Canadians.  A presentation to council by local compassion clubs last month prompted Alan Lowe to draft a letter to federal Health Minister Tony Clement criticizing public access to the Federal Marijuana Medical Access Regulation program.

”Many of these citizens rely on marijuana for the purpose of pain management and have expressed an inability to access the… program”, he wrote in the March 20 letter.  Without proper access, “many Canadians will continue to suffer”. Times Colonist, VICTORIA MAYOR OFFERS SUPPORT TO MEDICAL POT USERS, by Rob Shaw, 03/27/06.

I am aware of the fact that I just admitted to you that I am engaged in what is considered to be an illegal activity and I would like to further explain why I feel that it is necessary
for me to do so at this time. Since I began this venture I have been very concerned with jeopardizing my personal safety, those who are helping me and especially the health and well being of out clients. Many have chosen not to affiliate themselves with me because of their fear of arrest and persecution, from family members and society as a whole. Those who have joined this
organization have placed a great deal of trust in my ability to help further the awareness of medical marijuana. I have the utmost respect for you and the job that you are doing. Letter by Ted Smith to Chief of Police, March 19, 1997.

Despite his best efforts, a high-profile medical marijuana user and supplier charged with drug trafficking didn’t get his day in court Tuesday.   “I really wanted to put an end to this,” 40-year-old John Cook said outside a Truro courtroom after two charges were stayed by Crown Attorney Cameron MacKinnon without explanation.  “I assume it’s just too messy a situation for them to deal with,” said Mr. Cook, a Harrietsfield, Halifax County, resident and provincial director for the Cannabis Buyers’ Club of Canada. CHARGES STAYED IN MEDICAL POT CASE, Weds. Sept 5, 2005, Chronicle Herald, by Cathy Von Kintzel.

Smith, Leon ‘Ted’, HEMPOLOGY 101 TEXTBOOK, 1996, available @ hempology.ca
R. vs Brad Bowler, Feb 12, 2003, Supreme Court of B.C., Madam Justice Dorgan
R. vs Smith & Budda, Sept 7, 2004, B.C. Provincial Court, Madam Justice Chaperon
R. vs Leon ‘Ted’ Smith, Jan 7, 2005, B.C. Provincial Court, Madam Justice Harvey
Victoria City Council Minutes April 10, 2003

International Hempology 101 Society

Cannabis Buyers' Clubs of Canada