Pot Activist Hopes to Resurrect Museum

David Malmo-Levine throwing joints to the crowd at a Vancouver pot rally. (Photo by Bert Easterbrook)David Malmo-Levine throwing joints to the crowd at a Vancouver pot rally. (Photo by Bert Easterbrook)No one can accuse local pot activist David Malmo-Levine of being a quitter.

Just months after being released from prison for possession of marijuana and magic mushrooms for the purpose of trafficking, Malmo-Levine is organizing a fundraising art auction to resurrect his Herb Museum, formerly housed at 123 East Hastings St. Malmo-Levine said the museum was targeted in a February 2008 raid by the VPD–their target was his Vancouver School of Drug War History and Organic Cultivation, a.k.a. Herb School, which housed the museum.

“The Herb School was a form of civil disobedience,” said Malmo-Levine. “But for the three years and four months before it was raided I got to live as a free man.”

Malmo-Levine is determined to get the museum up and running again. His efforts are supported by local artists who are donating partial proceeds from the sale of their works through an online auction that ends today, Sept. 15. A live auction takes place tomorrow, Sept. 16, at The Dispensary on Thurlow Street. Malmo-Levine hopes to reopen the Herb Museum above the B.C. Marijuana Party’s headquarters at 307 West Hastings St.

“I’m not selling marijuana anymore,” said Malmo-Levine. “Through this they turned me from a dealer into an art dealer.”

Malmo-Levine said while not all of the art pieces are dedicated to marijuana, they have a connection to hallucinogenic drugs, including magic mushrooms and recreational pharmaceuticals.

“Artists and drugs have been connected since the beginning of art,” he said. “They help artists explore within themselves.”

There are more than 100 paintings, drawings and carvings available online, priced from $5 for a Ken Foster pen on found-canvas piece to $7,000 for a watercolour by the same artist. A Bob High ink on paper, dubbed Big Pharma, is priced at $700, while a carved mask by John Walkus bearing a marijuana leaf across the eyes is $200.

The former Herb Museum included Malmo-Levine’s vast collection of drug-related memorabilia, medicinal bottles that once contained cannabis and morphine, posters, news clippings and artifacts, including a package of cocaine throat lozenges, and a picture of what’s believed to be Shakespeare’s resin-filled pipe collection. Malmo-Levine said the Herb School was created to educate people about the culture of marijuana and offered “drug war” history walking tours through the Downtown Eastside. Malmo-Levine also provided the history component to the Vancouver Seed Bank’s “Grow Classes.” The goal of the museum, said Malmo-Levine, is to act as a historical preservation society about the use of marijuana as medicine, as well as the war on drugs.

During the trial that followed, Malmo-Levine became known as the youngest person to represent himself at the Supreme Court of Canada. He unsuccessfully argued the laws against the use and sale of marijuana are unconstitutional and that jail time is not an appropriate punishment for marijuana crimes. He was sentenced to four months in prison and was released the day after the 2010 Olympic Games ended in the city. Malmo-Levine surmises his release was timed to keep him from speaking to international media.

– Article from The Vancouver Courier