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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN BC: Mayor's Letter To Minister Becomes Evidence In Pot Trial
Title:CN BC: Mayor's Letter To Minister Becomes Evidence In Pot Trial
Published On:2012-01-18
Source:Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Fetched On:2012-01-24 06:02:21

In March 2006, former Victoria mayor Alan Lowe wrote to Tony Clement,
then federal health minister, asking him to immediately review
Canada's medical marijuana regulations "to determine where
improvements can be made to ensure a better quality of life for those
Canadians in need of medical assistance."

The letter, written on behalf of Victoria city council, was entered as
evidence Tuesday at the trial of Owen Smith, head baker for the
Cannabis Buyers' Club of Canada (CBCC).

Smith, 29, has been charged with possession for the purpose of
trafficking THC, one of the active ingredients in marijuana, and
unlawful possession of marijuana on Dec. 3, 2009.

Smith has essentially admitted he used a View Street apartment as a
commercial bakery, making pot cookies and other cannabis-based
products for sale through the club. However, he is raising a
constitutional challenge against Health Canada's marijuana access
regulations and the validity of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

In the March 20, 2006, letter, Lowe told Clement the issue of public
access had been raised at city council by a number of citizens who
rely on marijuana to manage pain.

Although the previous federal government had endorsed the medicinal
properties of cannabis, "adequate production and distribution channels
do not appear to be in place," wrote Lowe. "In the absence of this
infrastructure, many Canadians will continue to suffer the
debilitating effects of their illnesses without the benefit of
effective pain management techniques."

Four years earlier, on April 18, 2002, the city passed a resolution
declaring that the federal laws regarding cannabis need to be changed,
especially for people with incurable medical conditions. The city also
proclaimed Nov. 15 International Medical Marijuana Day and encouraged
everyone to act with tolerance, compassion and understanding toward
people who need cannabis to relieve their pain.

The documents were entered by defence lawyer Kirk Tousaw during the
testimony of Ted Smith, proprietor of the CBCC and no relation to the accused.

Ted Smith, 42, testified that when he moved to Victoria in September
1995, he met a woman called Leslie at the Sacred Herb hemp shop.
Leslie volunteered in the AIDS community in James Bay, making pot
cookies, brownies and medical salves.

"When they ate the cookies, they'd put the weight back on . . . it
made them want to live again."

Ted Smith decided he wanted to help people who were dying from cancer
or suffering chronic pain. On April 1, 2001, he opened the club at 826
Johnson St. Between 2001 and 2003, the club was raided a number of
times, he testified.

Ted Smith was convicted of trafficking in resin, but the conviction
was dropped on appeal. He was granted a stay of proceeding on another
trafficking offence.

Tousaw entered a number of letters between Ted Smith and Health Canada
into evidence. In the documents, Smith questions why Health Canada's
marijuana access regulations only allow people authorized to use
marijuana to possess it in dried form.

"My client was trying to get some understanding why the regulatory
scheme would allow people to smoke dried marijuana versus what he
perceived to be less harmful ways of getting cannabis into the body by
eating or applying it topically," said Tousaw.

In 2006, a letter from a Health Canada official to Ted Smith says as
long as the plant is dried first, any preparations made after that are
acceptable. The statement was retracted by another official in 2008.
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