Don Briere of the Canadian Sanctuary Society, a former BC Marijuana Party candidate who ran in the Surrey-Tynehead riding in the last provincial election, is already making waves in Parliament.
Nasty North Vancouver Alliance Party member Ted White arose in session to say snidely:
“Mr Speaker, if you would like something really different to do this weekend, why not come out to Vancouver and learn how to start your own medical marijuana franchise?
If members need more information, just tune in to Channel two in Vancouver and watch for the advertisement from the Kine Smoke Shop and the Canadian Sanctuary Society. They are sponsoring two seminars on February 21 and 22 to help get grow ops up and running.
To add to the excitement, they might get to meet Mr Briere, who started the Sanctuary Society and who was sentenced in 2001 to four years in jail for cultivating and trafficking in marijuana, money laundering, possessing a prohibited weapon and unlawful storage of ammunition.
The only thing that is not yet clear is whether the present Minister of Industry is getting a percentage of revenues for making the business possible in the first place. I could not find any evidence of a campaign donation, but maybe a contribution in kind has long since gone up in smoke.
I wonder if they will be giving any samples this weekend. Can I count on seeing you there, Mr Speaker?”
The Speaker said, “I thank the honorable member for his kind invitation.”
Don Briere was recently characterized after election by the Province newspaper as a Pot Baron: Grow op pot baron gets four years jail.
He was sentenced to four years for cultivation, four years money laundering, and one year on a weapons charge. The weapons charge came from unsafe storage of five guns and ammo bought cheap to sell to family and friends. His crime was not having a license. He got two years probation. The Canadian parole board granted Briere day parole on Dec 19, 2002.
During the police investigation that led to his conviction, court documents show that Briere told officers that he prided himself on providing jobs for the unemployed by hiring elderly people to babysit his grow ops and by repairing any damage to the rental homes he used for marijuana growing. Before his arrest, Briere funded Hemp Scientific International, a venture designed to develop legitimate uses for hemp.
When he was released he didn’t have a barrel of money, like many people expected him to have, but he had some very good people who wanted to help liberate the herb, including an idealistic young person who formerly worked with autistic children and a very efficient lady who supports him full-heartedly.
They have found a location at 1015 Commercial drive next to the falafel place that was closed down for harboring coke dealers in the already bohemian neighborhood that hosts Joe’s Cafe, Ken Hayes’ Spirit Within Ethnobotanical Shop, and the Latin Quarter. It is across from the notorious Britannia Park where people have been scoring pot despite the neighborhood police detachment since the 1960’s.
They are renovating the Canadian Sanctuary Society headquarters to include a spacious smoking room which is fully ventilated. A talented artist named Herb has been given free reign to paint a mural in the theme of ancient civilizations with Egyptian deities.
What makes Don’s medical marijuana club different and unique is that they have taken into consideration that most doctors are reluctant to get political or endorse medical marijuana, given that they have no control over dosage or quality. They have provided an out whereby the client goes to a notary public and signs an affidavit as to their medical need and condition. They are also accepting recommendations from homeopathic doctors and will also, of course, accomodate those coming from different clubs where the criteria is even more strict for membership.
Don Briere did not want to ever have to return back to prison and his marriage had been torn apart, but his news clippings were displayed in a huge portfolio, mementos from the last provincial election that buoyed his spirits during the depressing days of imprisonment.
The society is due to open its doors in the coming weeks and it’s Don’s plan to expand and help facilitate the opening of a chain of clubs.
Don told the surrey leader that he is “110 percent” committed to medicinal marijuana and is actively working to promote the cause. “There’s no moss growing under these feet,” he said.
During the election Don was known as having worked in the forest industry, construction and the hospitality field. As a man with both children and elderly parents he believed in bringing our health and education systems up to more acceptable standards.
Don was very involved with “Grief to Action,” which is a group that believes that harm reduction is better than dying. These people know first-hand what it is like to lose a child and they do not want any more lives wasted. His sincerity shines through when he speaks about medical marijuana and has been shown support by Marc Emery and the cannabis community.
He has sacrificed much in his personal life, including his marriage, and is not about to go quietly or desert the cause which has given meaning to his struggle.
Don Briere said that the new government forms to apply for a license to grow or smoke cannabis are 27 pages or more in length and that they are a tremendous waste of resources and government bureaucracy.
Patients who are ill to begin with seldom have the knowledge or energy to grow enough for themselves or find someone who wants to sign over his freedom to grow for them. Signing the forms permits police to investigate and search property at any time, including personal computers.