The Harm Reduction Club

Smoke Signals (cc#8) – The Harm Reduction Club

Table Of Contents

Homegrown Revolution

Hemp Happenings

Smoke Signals

Cannabis Cup '96

Growers Corner

Oppression Update

Marijuana IS Medicine


      Harm Reduction Club

      Pushing te Envelope, Getting Pushed


      Vancouver’s Harm Reduction Club opened Canada’s first above-ground marijuana
      store on December 20, and stayed in business for 70 days before being busted
      by Burnaby RCMP on February 28.?


      Harm Reduction
      in Action?

      The Harm Reduction Club first hit Vancouver in a big way on October 19,
      when they held a kick-off rally in Vancouver’s Grandview Park, and organizer
      David Malmo-Levine openly sold baggies of pot to anyone over the age of
      13 who first became a member of the club and agreed not to drive while
      impaired on marijuana. Vancouver Police watched from a polite distance,
      but didn’t make any attempts to stop the rally. They didn’t even bring
      their video cameras, usually a cop favourite for Vancouver pot gatherings.?

      The Harm Reduction Club bought full page ads in Vancouver weekly Terminal
      City, advertising their business phone number and moral justification.
      They gave out their home/club address to members and prospective customers,
      and created a safe and educational environment in which to purchase and
      consume marijuana. The Club provided all members with a “Safer, Smarter
      Smoking Guide”, and supplied free fruit and vitamins at their HQ.?

      Vancouver police waited six weeks before moving in on December 4, and David
      Malmo-Levine spent the night in jail, along with two of his co-workers
      and roommates. The trio now face charges of possession for the purposes
      of trafficking.?

      Bouncing back
      from the Bust?

      The bust was enough to shut down operations for two weeks, but on December
      20 the Harm Reduction Club was back in action, with another full page ad
      announcing their new storefront location, this time in the neighbouring
      municipality of Burnaby.?

      The new location was christened the “Dutch Embassy Flower and Tea Room”
      and has the auspicious address of 420 Grove Street. They weren’t shy about
      their activities; there were banners in the window with slogans like “Marijuana
      is Medicine” and a sandwich board out on the sidewalk advertising their

      The Harm Reduction
      Club boasted over 1800 paid members, but although business was brisk things
      weren’t easy for them at their new location. The club suffered four armed
      robberies in as many weeks during the months of January and February, apparently
      from local dealers who either didn’t want the competition, or just saw
      the friendly and trusting Club as an easy mark.?

      David and his coworkers fought back against the final armed robbery, and
      although the crooks eventually fled without their gun, one of the HRC employees
      had the unnerving experience at having the trigger repeatedly pulled on
      him at point blank range, with what were later revealed to be blank cartridges,
      miraculously dud blanks.?

      The Harm Reduction Club repeatedly contacted the Burnaby RCMP, and the
      RCMP ultimately made one arrest in connection with the robberies.?

      The Club also announced
      that they were changing their policy on selling pot to minors, in order
      to gain public and police support by separating issues of parental authority
      from prohibition. They promised to only sell to teenagers if the parent
      or guardian came in person to sign a special parental permission slip.?

      An Open Discussion?

      Some letters appeared in local Burnaby papers condemning the Club, and
      so David went to a Burnaby City Council meeting, introduced himself, and
      offered to participate in an open discussion with the residents of Burnaby
      in the form of a Town Hall meeting.?

      “If the people of Burnaby don’t want us here, we’ll go,” says David, “but
      I’ve got hundreds of clients in this city, and a petition in support of
      the Dutch Embassy with over 500 signatures on it, about half of which are
      from Burnaby residents.”?

      The Mayor and council didn’t respond to the idea of a Town Hall meeting,
      and so the Harm Reduction Club took out a full page ad in the Burnaby Now
      weekly newspaper, requesting a response from the Mayor about their proposal
      for an open debate.?

      The day before the ad came out on March 1, the club was robbed again this
      time by the Burnaby RCMP.?

      The HRC and the

      During February the RCMP had stepped up their harassment of the Dutch Embassy.
      For about three weeks customers were being held and interrogated outside
      the club, some were arrested, most were only intimidated and had their
      pot confiscated. The Club responded by coaxing some local videographers
      into recording any instances of police harassment.?

      On February 28, the RCMP moved in. David Malmo-Levine and one co-worker
      were arrested, along with one customer. The customer was released that
      day, the co-worker spent one night in jail, but David spent seven days
      in jail before his father was able to post bail for him. David’s bail conditions
      include his being entirely forbidden from returning to Burnaby.?

      The future plans of the Harm Reduction Club are still uncertain. Although
      the Dutch Embassy did stay open while David was in jail, and even sold
      a fair amount of herb, it is unlikely that the Club will retain the Burnaby
      location. Whether the Harm Reduction Club will continue to sell pot in
      some form is still undetermined. David is pursuing the idea of a Town Hall
      meeting to achieve a community mandate, hoping to imitate the success of
      the SF Buyer’s Club, on a smaller scale.?

      Dana Larsen?

      For more info…?

      • Contact the Harm Reduction
        Club at (604) 253-6357; email David Malmo-Levine at [email protected];
        send mail care of Cannabis Canada.?

      • For David Malmo-Levine’s
        advice on how to start a revolution in your community, see his