Hemp Nation Under Siege

CC Summer 1995: Hemp Nation Under Siege

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Hemp Nation Under Siege
by Chris Clay

On Wednesday, May 17, I purchased twenty tiny rooted Skunk #1 clones from a
customer and immediately put them on display.

They were two to four inches tall and rooted in rockwool. They were not
flowering, and police analysis will likely indicate only trace amounts of
THC. During the next few hours, I sold four clones for
each. We received few comments and no complaints about the small plants.

At around 7:30 pm, approximately eight officers from the London Police
Force and the RCMP entered the store and, supposedly acting on a
“complaint”, immediately placed me under arrest for “trafficking a
narcotic”, “possession of a narcotic for the purpose of trafficking”, and
“cultivating a narcotic”.

I was taken to the holding cell at the police station, where I remained
until 8 am the next morning. I made a call to Maureen Dennison, the only
lawyer I know. The guards refused my repeated requests for a glass of
water, a paper and pen, a newspaper, and other amenities. One female guard
(who fingerprinted me at 2am) said “We don’t do requests here.”

Sometime during the night (I had no watch), two of the officers I had seen
at the store came to tell me they had seized all of my “paraphernalia” and
that they were considering charging me under 462.2. I was awakened again at
6am for a “breakfast” consisting of an English muffin with cheese and the
smallest coffee I had ever seen.

Maureen came to see me in the morning and advised me to speak to duty
counsel. I later did so, and he represented me in the afternoon. There was
a good turnout from Hemp Nation; many friends were present, handing out
literature and discreetly sticking pot leaves all over the courthouse. The
duty counsel lawyer, who I’d just met, said that the crown did not want to
release me and would only consider it if I met certain conditions:

  1. keep the peace and be of good behaviour
  2. not to possess, ingest, or inject any controlled drug
  3. reside at my current address
  4. not have in my possession a “communications pager”
  5. not to possess any “drug paraphernalia” or “items associated with the
    cultivation of marihuana.”

The judge told the crown that many people carry pagers; they responded by
saying they could hold me for several days while they arranged to have
police officers testify about the links between pagers and trafficking.

(I had just bought the pager the week before from Canadian Tire so I could
instantly know of any emergencies, i.e. police robbing my store, charging
my friends, etc.)

My lawyer said the only way I would possibly be released was if I agreed to
meet all the crown’s conditions, so I reluctantly accepted their offer.

I also had to make a
bail (without deposit). Basically, if I violate
any of the above terms (“b” prevents me from getting high, “d” has greatly
hindered the speed with which I am notified of important events, and “e”
makes sure I won’t sell any more pipes, bongs, etc.) I could instantly be
taken to jail and ordered to pay

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I was released around 4pm and returned home to find that my house had been
ransacked. Nearly everything in the house was in disarray. My stash of
seeds was gone, as were most of my personal pipes and water pipes. My
bedroom was a disaster, trashed beyond recognition. Files were all over the
place; clothing, photos, and books were piled everywhere.

Missing were several grams of magic mushrooms; however, they did not take
the ninety-three spore syringes marked “shroomies” on the box. They left
behind seeds (several vials were openly visible on my bedstand.) They left
some pipes and water pipes. They must have been overwhelmed – there was
“paraphernalia”, seed, ash, and bud in nearly every room of the house. A
thorough search for everything would have taken them days!

My basement is covered in mylar, yet now has music equipment and a
darkroom. My closet had a fluorescent setup, but it wasn’t in use. My
roommate had mylar and lights in his closet, but no plants. Most things
were still in the house except my visiting friends Zach and Trish!

Apparently, on Thursday afternoon the same police that were in the store
raided my house. They found small quantities of cannabis unsuitable for
smoking (stalks, leaf, seeds, etc). They then charged Zach and Trish with
“possession of a narcotic”, even though they don’t live there and they had
nothing in their possession. The police then took them away in handcuffs in
front of our neighbours, fingerprinted them at the cop shop, and released

Once I had inspected my home, (and confirmed the whereabouts of Zach and
Trish!), I went to the store and saw the empty shelves and displays. The
London police had seized approximately
retail in pipes, water
pipes, and clips. They took most of our vials, but left a few bags of
plastic one grams. They took my scales in my office (covered in bud – I buy
personal quantities of marijuana frequently, and I always weigh what I’m
buying!); they left the Slim Jims and the digital scales in the display

They concentrated on merchandise on display. Some pipes and other items
that were out of sight remain in storage at the store. They took our
mushroom spores. They took all of the money in the store and on my person
which I was about to deposit to cover my staff’s payroll.)
They took hundreds of seeds and sixteen clones. They took a single dried
leaf that rested on the thousands of petition signatures. They took the
small bonsai-like cannabis plant I had symbolically kept in my display case
for more than a year (I never looked after it – a customer planted the
seed, and occasionally staff or a friend would give it some water.)

For some reason, the police left behind my resin-coated glass bong, my
chalice, and other used bongs. They left papers, screens, and pipe
parts. They left the literature and clothing. They didn’t touch anything
“on hold”, including Northern Lights seeds, pipes, etc. They took pounds of
sterile hemp seed. They left the Marijuana History Museum
undisturbed, and they never checked out the Hemp Nation Cafe down
the hall.

All in all, it seems the authorities weren’t very thorough in their
investigation. Damning items in the most obvious places were left in my
home and the store. The police seemed confused over what merchandise they
should take as “paraphernalia”. The seeds must have been a problem – there
were bags, jars, and vials of seeds, both living and dead, in a number of
spots. (Seeds that won’t germinate aren’t illegal under Canadian law.)

The store was partially restocked within days after the bust. However,
because of the vagueness of my bail conditions, it’s hard to know what I
can sell without being hauled off to the big house. To make matters more
complicated, employee Jordan Prentice just received a summons stating he’s
being charged with selling paraphernalia and trafficking, apparently
because he worked with me the day I sold clones.

To fight this oppression, I have retained Osgoode Hall law professor Alan
Young and his partner Paul Burstein. We are launching a constitutional
challenge to have cannabis removed as a prohibited substance under the
Narcotic Control Act. A similar case in Germany last year unexpectedly
brought decriminalization: four kilos of hash is now considered a personal

The biggest tool so far in this struggle has been the internet. I can
communicate instantly with my lawyer, family, activists, friends and
business associates for a flat fee of
per month. Research is now a
dream – with access to what’s called the World Wide Web, I quickly obtained
a complete English translation of Germany’s constitutional court ruling,
along with hundreds of helpful documents. My collected archives
(The Armouries)
along with details of the case
(News from the Front)
are now being made available through Hemp BC’s web site.

Support has been enormous. On June 7, my first brief court date, there were
nearly 200 protesters in front of the courthouse. A similar “Protestfest”
is planned for my next appearance on June 28.

A special bank account to fund the constitutional challenge has been
established, and donations are starting to come in. Many hemp stores are
interested in selling our Hemp Victory Bonds, redeemable for marijuana once
the war is won ($25 will return a quarter- ounce). International messages
of support have also started to arrive through the internet.

Hemp Nation Headquarters is moving operations this month to a new, larger
location. A trial may not start for close to a year.

We are now just digging the trenches – the real battle will be fought in
the courts in the months to come.

Herb - the healing of a nation
Bob Marley


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