Randy Caine is often told that he made the wrong career choice. “You should have been a bartender,” say his customers. Anyone who comes into The Joint for coffee or to purchase some merchandise is greeted by Randy, the always amiable owner. It’s hard to resist sitting down for a chat with him, and I have often found myself spending time with him there long after my coffee mug has emptied.Instead of serving alcohol in a bar, Randy has chosen to work behind the counter of a coffee house and hemporium. He has become the face of the marijuana anti-prohibition movement in Surrey, and has given a voice to many people who would otherwise have been ignored by their own city.
When The Joint opened in October of 1995, it gave Surrey residents the opportunity to educate themselves about cannabis issues. Randy has succesfully merged pot smokers with non-smokers, and allows them both to share a comfortable atmosphere. This is an excellent step towards a more tolerant attitude in the community of Surrey, but Randy has begun to question whether his business will continue to exist much longer.
Randy has been running The Joint without a business licence for seven months now. Although he has already paid the appropriate fees and has been pressing for a licence, Randy claims that he is given evasive answers, and is told that he is not entitled to be a part of the licence granting process.
Randy has been warned by a number of council members that they do not like his business and are going to do everything they can to shut it down. Some have even gone so far as to imply to the local papers that there are illegal activities going on at The Joint.
“These people are making judgements about me, my customers, and my business, without ever having stepped foot on the property,” says Randy.
He fears that close-minded councillors and bad publicity are undermining his business. Many of his customers have been scared off by fear of police surveillance or because of rumours that he’d been shut down.
Randy says that the city has put him in a very difficult position. “I couldn’t even sell the place now because it is not considered a business. It is an ‘underground operation.’ I might as well be working out of my basement.”
Without a business licence, bylaw enforcement can order the police to barricade his doors and take away his inventory at any time. The threat of closure hangs above the Joint like a dark cloud, and this continuing uncertainty has begun to take its toll on an otherwise optimistic man.
Threats to his business continue to increase as Caine attempts to work out each new problem, but right now he says that his main concern is his family. They have been caused a lot of grief as problems surrounding The Joint infringe on their private life. He says that he may have to shut the place down because he cannot allow the business to cause his family any more turmoil.
Randy doesn’t want to disappoint his customers and says that he will keep on fighting city hall. “I haven’t given up yet, and if I do have to shut the place down the city can look forward to being sued.”
Surrey residents need your assistance to keep their life-line to the movement from being severed. If you visit Surrey, stop by the Joint to say hello and extend your support.
Please also write or call the following people and let them know that you support the Joint and are opposed to this type of unfounded discrimination and prejudice.
- Surrey Mayor, Robert Bose: (604) 591-4126
- Councillor Judith Higginbotham: (604) 591-4483
- Surrey City Hall, 14245 56th Ave., Surrey, BC, V3X 3A2.
- Visit the Joint at 15157 Fraser Hwy., Surrey, BC, V3R 3P2, or call Randy to offer support at (604)
Randy Caine’s Constitutional Challenge
Randy Caine has been involved in a legal battle since June of 1993, when he was arrested by a bike patrol officer for possession of half a gram of marijuana. Randy had been smoking a joint in his van with a friend, but unfortunately he never got to finish it. Roach in hand, Randy was arrested.
Since that time he has been in and out of court, with the support of lawyer John Conroy. Conroy has long been associated with the fight against marijuana prohibition, and is donating his services to the case because it is a charge for simple possession in a situation which clearly shows that it was for personal use only.
Caine’s defense is based upon Section 7 and 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Section 7 states “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”
Section 1 states “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it only subject to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”
John Conroy is arguing that cannabis prohibition affects one’s “liberty” and the “security of one’s person.” If Her Honour Judge Francine Howard agrees, then the Crown will be given an opportunity to try and demonstrably justify the Section 7 violation as a “reasonable limit in a free and democratic society.”
Judge Howard has already heard testimony from Neil Boyd, head of the Criminology Department at Simon Fraser University, Dr Barry Beyerstein from the brain behaviour and drug studies laboratory of the Psychology Department at Simon Fraser University, and Dr Peck, Deputy Health Officer for BC.
A key idea in this trial is that for an activity to be deemed “criminal” it must involve harm to self, others, or society as a whole. The testimony from these experts has been used to establish that there are no known adverse effects of marijuana use, and therefore Randy was not causing harm to anyone, including himself, when he possessed and consumed marijuana.
Despite lengthy breaks between court dates (the next is not expected until early next year) the case is likely to go as far as the Supreme Court of Canada. Randy Caine and those like him have dedicated their efforts to free hundreds of thousands of other Canadians from the threat of prison and the iron jaws of prohibition. It is important to remember that they aren’t just working for themselves; they are looking out for all of us and they will need our support to continue the battle for freedom.
Don’t Plead Guilty
If you are charged with simple possession of cannabis, don’t plead guilty! Instead you should join in with Randy Caine’s constitutional challenge. This will adjourn your case to await the outcome of his trial, and since he expects to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, this could take as long as four to five years!
There were about 36,000 people charged for cannabis offences in 1993, and over two-thirds of these were charges of simple possession. Just think what the effect will be if we are able to prevent all Canadians from being convicted of simple possession for at least the next five years, and maybe forever!
Your lawyer should ask the Crown Prosecutor to adjourn your case pending the outcome of the Caine challenge. If the Crown Prosecutor does not agree to this, then have your lawyer contact John Conroy’s office and make arrangements to file a notice of constitutional challenge. This will make the prosecutor see that you are serious.
This is an excellent opportunity for anyone that has been charged with a drug offence to help themselves, and also make a real contribution to ending prohibition in Canada.
- John Conroy’s Office: Conroy, Hammond & Co.
- 2459 Pauline St. Abbotsford, BC, V2S 3S1
- phone: (604) 852-5110, Fax: (604) 859-3361
- email: [email protected]