Lightning Strikes Twice
in Thunder Bay
by Dana Larsen
ALTHOUGH BONGS AND PIPES ARE BEING OPENLY SOLD IN MANY STORES ACROSS
THE COUNTRY, ONLY ONE CITY HAS TRIED TO STAMP OUT CANNABIS CULTURE BY SUPPORTING POLICE RAIDS
AGAINST LOCAL STORES.
IN THUNDER BAY OVER EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS WORTH OF MERCHANDISE
HAS BEEN SEIZES, AND THREE PEOPLE ARE FACING CHARGES FOR SELLING “DRUG PARAPHENALIA” CONTRARY TO
SECTION 462.2 OF THE CRIMINAL CODE.
in Thunder Bay
On December 14th, the Ontario Provincial Police raided a store in Thunder
Bay called Kaiyun. Over $5000 of merchandise was seized by police, and
owner Ken Venema was charged with selling “instruments for illicit drug use
contrary to section 462.2 of the Criminal Code.” Also charged was one
employee, who was visibly pregnant at the time of the arrest.
On January 11th the same two officers who busted Kaiyun went into “The
Cockeyed Caterpillar,” which opened up about a week before Kaiyun was
raided, and was Thunder Bay’s only other outlet for pipes and bongs. Police
charged owner Jeremy Simons with violation of section 462.2, and sezied
about $2500 of goods. This was enough to put an end to Jeremy’s fledgling
In both instances, the police did not even buy a pipe or bong, but instead
simply asked to buy a scale. Police reports claim that the officers asked
“for a good weed scale,” but both stores deny that the police mentioned
anything about marijuana. They found this odd, since they would have sold
the items regardless.
Kaiyun is a tenant in a downtown mall and is facing a hostile landlord as
well as police harassment. Ken Venema has been threatened with a lawsuit by
his landlord for bringing the mall into disrepute. Nevertheless, Ken is
continuing to sell the forbidden goods from his store.
It’s worth mentioning that there is a tobacco shop in the same mall,
directly across from Kaiyun. This store sells tobacco pipes, as well as a
selection of the same rolling papers that police seized from Kaiyun. Of
course, this store has had no problems with the police or their landlord.
Seize and Destroy
This isn’t the first time that Kaiyun has suffered at the hands of official
agencies. In March of 1995, Ken Venema had a shipment of pipes from the US
seized by Canada Customs, who turned it over to the RCMP for
As Ken had been importing the same items for quite some time he was
surprised when he had still heard nothing by June, three months later. Ken
finally launched a formal complaint against the RCMP, and in September he
had an RCMP officer come into his store with a three month old letter,
notifying him that his possessions had been deemed to be in violation of
section 462.2, and had been destroyed.
No Pretrial, No Jury
Both Ken and Jeremy have pleaded not guilty to the charges against
them. Since the offence is not indictable, They have no right to a pretrial
hearing or a trial by jury. If either one of them gets the wrong judge they
could easily spend a few months in jail and lose their life savings.
Thunder Bay Needs
Kaiyun and the Cockeyed Caterpillar need our support. If these charges
stick then there is every possibility that other Canadian hemp stores that
sell pipes and bongs will have their merchandise seized, and their
employees charged under section 462.2.
This kind of police intimidation and harassment has to be stamped out
ruthlessly wherever it rears its head in Canada. If the Ontario Police are
allowed to get away with these kinds of unwarranted arrests and seizures,
then there is nothing to stop it from spreading back into the rest of
For more information, contact Ken Venema at Kaiyun, at: (807)