Ian Hunter goes to Supreme Court

Drug case taken to higher level

City man tries to convince justice drug laws are unconstitutional

By Kim Westad
Times Colonist staff

The Victoria man who wants to decriminalize marijuana took his pitch to
the establishment today, arguing in B.C. supreme court that several drug
laws are unconsitutional.

Garbed in a grey flanned suit, his sideburns subdued as mutton chops can
be, Ian Hunter seemed to fit right into the legal scene.

“When in Rome, dress as the Romans do,” said Hunter, who is representing
himself in the three-day constitutional argument.

But the 35-year old didn’t completely forgo his belief in all things
hemp. Hunter said his boxers were made of the material, and half of his
97-page legal argument is typed on hemp paper.

“it may be the first time hemp has been is Supreme Court, but you never
know. There are a lot of people who believe in it,” Hunter said.

Hunter is tyring to have laws making possession and cultivation of marijuana
and psilocybin mushrooms ruled contrary to the Charter of Rights.

He cites serveral breaches of the Charter of Rights — from religious
grounds to protecting Canada’s multicultural heritage — as reasons the
judge should strike down the drug laws.

“We are doing a full frontal attack, saying all these sections are
pertinent. This issue brings together so many important rights.”

Hunter was charged last July with possession of magic mushrooms, and
cultivation and possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.

Victoria Police seized 22 seedlings, believed to be marijuana, a package
of seed and a small amount of what it thought to be magic mushrooms.

Freedom of religion is a key plank in Hunter’s argument. He says people
should be free to worship as they please, and if cannabis be a part of it,
then so be it.

Hunterr wants the court to acknowledge that marijuana and mushrooms were
originally created by God, so are worthy of the same protection from the
court that would extend to other living species.

“God supports growing cannabis because it was placed on Earth for us to
use,” Hunter argued, adding there is no demonstrative proof that it is
harmful, “If it’s not harmful, why is it a crime to possess it?”

Hunter is backed up by Rev. Henry Boston, who sat in court as Hunter’s
“spiritual adviser.”

Boston says the Charter of Rights must be interpreted taking into account
that the Charter preamble says that God is supreme.

God created cannabis and mushrooms and also provided the nutrients in the
soil and water necessary for their cultivation, said Boston.

“If the cultivation of these plants is a crime, then God is a criminal
and Mr. Hunter is only his accomplice,” Boston said.

But Justice Montague Drake wouldn’t let Hunter present evidence about God’s
supremacy. “There’s nobody who could give evidence on whether or not God is
supreme in Canada. Who is qualified to do that?” asked Drake.

The argument continues today.


Marijuana Challenge Up In Smoke

By Kim Westad
Times Colonist staff

Hemp honcho Ian Hunter lost the battle Monday to decriminalize marijuana,
but he says he’s far from out of the war.

“The decision wasn’t entirely unexpected,” Hunter said after B.C. Supreme
Court Judge Montague Drake turfed his constitutional challenge to several
drug laws.

The 35-year-old head of the B.C. Hemp Council has long lobbied for
changes to the laws that crinimalize cannabis and magic mushrooms.

Being charged last summer with possession and cultivation of marijuana
and possession of magic mushrooms gave him a platform to challenge narcotic
laws under the Charter of Rights.

Hunter argued that sections of the Food and Drug Act and the Narcotic
Control Act were contrary to several sections of the charter, including
religion.

“It was an elaborate plea of confession and avoidance,” he said of
Hunter’s five-day argument, much of which he called “massive irrelevant
matter.”

Hunter’s submissions ranged from an obviously researched 97-page legal
argument, to telling the judge about his religious conversion to marijuana
use in a field.

As for Hunter’s argument that smoking marijuana is an integral part of
his religion as a minister in the Mission of Ecstacy, Drake was having
little of it.

Cannabis is the Tree of Life, Hunter argued, and as such, has great
spiritual value in his church. Smoking it is a part of his religion.

But, said the judge, such use is an unlawful act. “A religion condoning
the commission of an idictable offence is no religion at all, as far as the
charter of rights is concerned,” Drake said.

The judge also noted Hunter has testified that it wasn’t mandatory for
church members to smoke marijuana, though Hunter hadn’t come across any who
chose not to inhale.

Hunter goes to trial before a jury Sept. 8. he says jurors as young as 14
— the average age people first smoke marijuana — should be allowed, to
combat the generation gap he says is part of the stance against
decriminalizing marijuana.

The older generation approves alcohol and cigarettes, he said, but not
marijuana.

Hunter is philosophical that change may take time, “The system we have
now has been rolling along for decades.

He says charging “40,000 people a year is a major part of the justice
system. They are putting people through to fill up cells and court time.
It has become an economic power base.” Hunter says there are some 2,500,000
cannabis and hemp users in Canada. “They have jobs, businesses, and
included lawyers, politicians, accountants.”

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