In the shadow of Marc’s battle with the US government, a smaller drama is unfolding here in Vancouver. I am being sentenced for three counts of s. 5(2) of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA). Two of the counts are possession of cannabis for the purposes of trafficking and the third count is possession of psilocybin for the purposes of trafficking.
These charges were in relation to an organization I co-founded called the “Herb School”. We had organic cultivation classes and daily drugwar history walking tours and we sold lots and lots of useful herbs, including the best cannabis, hashish and mushrooms in the city. We had a mini museum and promoted and paid for the rallies after Marc got busted. Here are some links about the School:
I pleaded guilty to the charges to 1) get this judge who 5 lawyers told me was the least afraid of cannabis any of them had ever encountered, 2) get the trumped-up “morphine” trafficking changes dropped, and 3) to allow all my co-accused to walk away with stayed charges.
If anyone out there went on the Drugwar History Walking Tour or visited the Herb School and wants to help keep me out of jail, I would suggest getting in contact right away with my legal team:
I need short affidavits in support of me not going to jail or getting punished in any way for my herbal crimes. Please let them know how the Herb School helped you. Tomorrow afternoon is the deadline for submissions.
My sentencing hearing is going to be on Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct. 2nd. We have many amazing witnesses who are prepared to testify, but so far the judge has not agreed to hear any of them. I will keep people posted as to the evolution of this case … we should know by this Thursday who will be allowed to give expert testimony.
I have been busted for trafficking flowers in the past, so there is no guarantee what the outcome will be. The Crown is asking for one year. The judge has been nice so far, even allowing the use of Skype to receive testimony from those who can’t travel. I’m hopeful … but then again I’m always hopeful.
Here is my argument in a nutshell:
1) Jail for cannabis offenses fails to achieve the fundamental purpose of sentencing (respect for the law and maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society).
2) Jail is not a just sanction because it will not (and can not) achieve any of the section 718 objectives. Jail sentences do not achieve the objective of deterrence. Denunciation is not necessary because the public does not denounce the conduct. As well, there has been no evidence produced of any harm to society and thus no need to have reparations or acknowledge harm done. Mr. Malmo-Levine has affidavits and witnesses who will testify to the facts regarding public opinion on this issue and the level of harm that cannabis/herb use – and cannabis/herb prohibition – has caused society.
3) There are offender-specific characteristics that set the Herb School apart from the typical or ordinary marijuana/herb seller: specifically a) the cannabis/herb activism which included but was not limited to multiple interviews for documentaries, organizing rallies and protests, banner-making for marches, pamphlets, a mini-museum and the drug war history walking tours and b) the service provided to the local community which included but was not limited to the beneficial effects of the herbs themselves itself, the harm reduction information that the Herb School made available to it’s students and the redistribution of the wealth to the local community generated by the sales of herbs. Mr. Malmo-Levine has affidavits and witnesses who will testify to these elements of cannabis’s and magic mushroom’s effects on the individual and of the schools operation.
4) There are other important mitigating circumstances to consider – the apparent impossibility of reform of the law through the standard methods offered by society and the great volume of harm to society caused by the continued status quo and a certain amount of tacit complicity among members of the cannabis/herb community that are capable of organizing the community and articulating intellectual critiques and educating the community and yet do none of these things. Those who took part in the activities in the Herb School were motivated to do everything in their power to challenge and end these horrific drug war crimes and they were prepared to commit all manner of harmless disobedience and education in the efforts to stop these drugwar crimes from continuing. Mr. Malmo-Levine has affidavits and witnesses who will testify to how difficult if not impossible the task of reforming the law if one is limited to the “proper channels”. There is Canadian case law that has protected activists from punishment who were in similar circumstances – Mr. Malmo Levine has affidavits and witnesses who understand the impossible task of “proper channel” reform and deserves the opportunity to put evidence before the court of that case law and those circumstances.
The school operated from 2004 to Feb. of 2008 with few if any complaints from anybody. We taught thousands of people about the history of the drug war … how it started here in Vancouver from an anti-Asian riot and a few broken windows of an opium den on Pender and Carrall … how Bayer’s gas warfare in WW1 resulted in the Monument at Hastings and Main … how Jimi Hendrix and Tommy Chong played in the same R&B band in Dec. of ’62 at the Smiling Buddah on Hastings … how the Gastown Police Riot of 1971 went down … and the evolution of the Pot Block.
It is my hope that one day the Herb School will rise again to sell cannabis – legally – and tell the story of the drug war. If you went to the school and want to see it in action again, the first step is to keep my sorry ass out of the hoosegow.