There was a very rigourous membership requirement at the HEMP NB Medical Marijuana store in Saint John New Brunswick. You needed a sworn affidavit before a notary stating you had a medical condition which you believed marijuana alleviated. Or you needed a section 56 exemption card issued by the Canadian federal government. Or you needed a signed letter from your doctor which HEMP NB verified by calling your doctor. One of those three.
So although it was unusual when the club received its first underage application, the circumstances were compelling. A 15 year old said he had a pin in his arm from surgery and needed pot to deal with lingering pain. He even went so far as to swear before a notary public in a sworn affidavit that this was so. His application was then accepted. Apparently, he would sell some of that pot to his friends at school.
When cops arrested the teen for selling, charges against him were dropped if he would provide testimony against HEMP NB. It would take a long time for the police to gather evidence though. All the other members of the HEMP NB Compassion Club were bona-fide, including four section 56 exemptees, and all others with confirmed and compelling doctor’s endorsements. There was nothing odd about any other member that police could intimidate or abuse.
So in order for Saint John police to get actual evidence, they would go undercover and make applications at the Compassion Club. Except, as the police on the witness stand admitted, their bogus applications were always rejected by HEMP NB. The police videotaped the front door of HEMP NB for months and could find no other anomalies. So then a police officer named Brian Hutchison came into HEMP NB and submitted an application with a letter from his doctor. His application was left to an employee to verify because, as Jim Wood explained, “we had an actual wedding going on in HEMP NB that day, and this guy wanted his application fast tracked, so I gave the application to an employee to verify. Normally I would check the doctor’s name in the phone book and call their office. You typically talk to a secretary and you confirm the patient exists with that condition.”
But the employee was naive, and only called the doctor’s office listed in the letter from the ‘doctor.’ A man claiming to be a doctor did indeed answer, but it was, in fact, Detective Bruce Hutchison’s superior officer. And the ‘doctor’ did indeed write that letter and of course he could confirm the ‘patient’ had that condition, and was very co-operative. It’s legal now, after the last revision to the Controlled Substances Act, for a police officer to lie in the course of an investigation.
So Detective Hutchison was accepted as a member. He bought one gram of marijuana for $15 from a petite mother of three, seven months pregnant, Lynn Wood.
Lyn Wood is a devoted believer in medical marijuana. This was her place, with her husband Jim. She knew all about the benefits of therapeutic marijuana during her pregnancies. Lynn saw the improvement in her husband, Jim, in the way his spinal damage caused by a car accident in 1992 was made bearable for him.
So after purchasing this one gram packet of marijuana, enough to roll two joints perhaps, the Saint John police moved in on HEMP NB.
On April 23, 2004, at 11.30 a.m., 16 to 20 police officers of the Saint John police violently entered HEMP NB. Jim & Lynn were not there, volunteer Dane Richards told Cannabis Culture that he was thrown on top of another co-worker during the arrest. He said of the police, “they took all our bongs, pipes, rolling papers, all our merchandise. Even our stamp pads and garbage. Plus all the pot for our members.”
Police even took all the store’s books, literature and copies of Cannabis Culture Magazine.
In total, several thousands of dollars worth of material was taken. Lynn Wood was charged with one count of trafficking. One gram sold to ‘patient’ undercover cop Bruce Hutchison. He of the fraudulent doctor’s letter.
But Lynn Wood was no ordinary advocate. She had been doing this since early September of 2003, almost nine months now. When she worked, husband John looked after Celine, born Dec. 15, 1999, Tom, born Dec. 27, 2001 and youngest Izetta, born Dec. 4, 2003, while operating HEMP NB. It was quite a juggle, but both parents were always looking after the kids, whether it was Jim or Lynn. All three were breastfed, Celine for three years, Tom was only just weaned off when Izetta was born. Lynn was a full time nursing mother and med-pot advocate since HEMP NB opened in 1999, and she wasn’t going to let one gram in the wrong hands deter her.
She re-opened HEMP NB immediately after getting released on bail. She continued to sell to all her members. She still did not know who had bought the pot that lead to the enormous police resources being poured upon her store & Compassion Club, so all members were still members.
Including member Bruce Hutchison, who’s real purpose & identity still remained hidden from Lynn Wood. He came in and bought one more gram one day in May.
On June 3, 2004, a dozen police came and raided HEMP NB again, once again taking any inventory with them.
A second charge of trafficking was laid against Lynn, along with two possession with intent to sell charges for the one pound of pot in the med-pot safe from the first raid, and 8 ounces in the safe at the time of the second raid.
After being found guilty of the two trafficking charges of one gram each, Judge Murray Cain was left to consider sentencing. The judge did not think Lynn Wood was a bad person, merely one who was determined to keep selling, and for that she would have to be restrained and punished. Despite the judge’s belief, there was no claim that Lynn Wood had sold any pot after the June 3, 2004 raid on HEMP NB, virtually a year ago to the decision Judge Cain brought down on June 1st, 2005.
Lynn Wood was 7-months pregnant, with three children, this was her first offence ever. The court was only able to show one patient had resold small amounts of marijuana bought at the club, and that a police officer posing as a doctor-approved med-patient had tried on several occasions to buy pot. Other testimony centred on the many desperate Section 56 exemptees like Patrick Hardy who claimed that HEMP NB was the only qualified place for him to buy marijuana in all of New Brunswick, as he had rejected the Canadian government pot agency’s marijuana as inadequate. Patrick Hardy has sinced moved to Montreal because New Brunswick became too difficult a place for a med-pot patient to live. Yet the Judge did not think it unreasonable in the least that Lynn Wood would be torn from her three tightly bonded children for up to a year, or that she would give birth in jail, and that her baby would immediately be taken from her and given to her husband John, motherless for 6 ? 10 months. The judge did not think it unreasonable that Lynn would pump breastmilk while in prison so it could be shipped home for husband Jim to bottlefeed to little Jimmy. (It’s a boy, they checked.) The judge sentenced her to one year in a grim jail. Lynn was led away to jail after the sentence was imposed.
Lynn Woods remains extraordinary by any account. She is the first med-pot Compassion Club owner in Canada to be sentenced to jail. She is the first pregnant activist of our movement to be ordered into jail and to have a child in prison, then to have it wrenched from her. This is the first known instance where undercover police posed as med-pot patients with the complicity of their superior officers, to the extent that police would pose as a doctor, issue letters as a doctor. After repeatedly trying to join the club, the undercover police applications always went rejected until the police themselves posed as doctors and patients.
If you wish to offer support to the fine Lynn Wood and Jim Wood, you may call Jim at 506-657-4769 or 506-333-6808. Lynn is right now at:
Lynn Wood, Saint John Correctional Centre,
930 Old Black River Rd.,
Saint John, New Brunswick E2J 4T3
And you can write to her at that address. She will serve a minimum of eight months of the 12 month sentence. She will, godspeed, give birth there in the first week of August to a healthy Jimmy, Jr.
Tomorrow: The Wood family & the Incredible Story of HEMP NB