Censorship in Prince George

On March 10th Constable Jewett walked into Back to the Garden, a hemp store in Prince George. Constable Jewett took a look around, and then spoke to the owner, Darren Rinaldi, about the legality of selling High Times magazine and books detailing how to grow cannabis.

Darren explained that the prohibition on selling pro-drug information had been deemed unconstitutional in Ontario in October of 1994. Constable Jewett said that he would look into the situation and get back to him.

On Monday, March 14, Constable Jewett returned to Back to the Garden and informed Darren that if the offending books and magazines were still on the shelves when he returned to the store in a week or so, then Darren would be charged with violating section 462.2 of the criminal code.

I called Constable Jewett the next day to discuss the situation with him. He was very friendly and explained the situation to me as he saw it. He also informed me that the decision of an Ontario Court does not affect British Columbia. That would only happen if the law was overturned in the Supreme Court of Canada. He explained that as an officer of the RCMP he was duty-bound to uphold the laws of Canada.

I told him that I had been in attendance at many rallies and smoke-ins where hundreds, if not thousands of people were actively consuming cannabis in flagrant violation of the law. These acts had occurred under the watchful eye of many RCMP officers and local police, and none of them had chosen to enforce the Narcotic Control Act at that time. Constable Jewett responded that he had not been in attendance at those events, and that if he had then things would have been different.

Constable Jewett also cautioned me that counselling someone to violate the law was in itself an offence, so that if I were to encourage Darren to continue selling the offending materials I could also be charged. I replied that as editor of Cannabis Canada I would probably suffer more serious penalties from editing this magazine than I would from counselling Darren to sell it, and that those of us at Hemp BC actively break the drug prohibition laws many times a day anyhow, although we are otherwise productive and law-abiding citizens.

I phoned Darren soon after speaking to Constable Jewett. He told me that he had sent out a press release and was in the process of producing posters that were themselves in violation of section 462.2. He also told me that he had no intention of removing any books from his shelves. I told him that if Constable Jewett tries to confiscate his High Times magazines that he should be sure to include a copy of Cannabis Canada as well. After all, we wouldn’t want High Times to hog all the free publicity!

Back to the Garden (604) 562-4367
Constable Jewett (604) 561-3366