Canadian cities with the largest pothead populations may be Vancouver,
Montreal and Toronto, but Edmonton’s cannabis community stands out. When
the modern era of hemp rallies began, Edmonton had big ones in May, July,
and October of 1993. While most cities struggle to have one active legalization
organization, Edmonton has two.
The Cannabis Relegalization Society of Alberta (CRSA) was begun in 1994
by Amanda Stewart of the True North Hemp Company. Aside from putting on
the annual labour day Hempfest celebration, the Society has jumped into
the role of defender of the powerless by helping some people with their
first hassled Edmontonian is Ken Poirier. His crime was to smoke pot across
the hall from a couple having a domestic dispute. When the cop came to
investigate, he smelled the tell-tale perfume and forced Ken out of his
apartment, allegedly without reading him his rights and deaf to his pleas
to not leave his six year old daughter at home alone. “He didn’t even believe
that my daughter was in the apartment.” exclaimed Ken.
Ken’s possession charge was a summary offense, bad enough for a criminal
record but judged not serious enough to qualify for Legal Aid. Ken couldn’t
even get help from the busy Student Legal Services, traditionally a source
The CRSA got wind of Ken’s troubles. They referred him to a good lawyer,
Michael Fuhrman, who gave him a deal. Michael began to look into it and
the prosecution decided to drop the charges altogether.
Amanda organized a rally on April 24 and a screening of the film “Hemp
Revolution” on April 30, and will be organizing a rally on behalf of Brian
Tilly, an American grower and smuggler caught after the TV program “America’s
Most Wanted” did a profile on him.
will also be coordinating the 1997 Freedom Festival, slated for September
1 1997. There will be a fashion show, an auction and guest speakers such
as hempstore owners Marc Emery, Ian Hunter and Canadian Foundation for
Drug Policy co-founder Eugene Oscapella.
Edmonton’s underground activist organization Grassroots has been active
since 1993, and has organized over a dozen rallies since then. The present
members regularly undergo harassment and abuse from local Edmonton law
17 year-old Grassroots organizer Amy von Stackelberg and the police have
locked horns on more than one occasion. She first came to their attention
in the summer of 1995 when she was busted for postering a blow-up of her
letter which had been printed in the Edmonton Journal, about the link between
prohibition and violence.
Amy then got busted again, on September 6, 1996, for possession for the
purpose of trafficking. Notorious Gazebo Park anti-pot cops Kamp and Keller
leaned on a couple of teenagers to give up their source. Amy was also a
teen when this happened. She got caught with what she estimates was sixty
grams – in one gram packages.
and Police Violence
Amy was arrested again on December 21, 1996, when ten cops, several in
full body armor with assault rifles, raided her and her friend Ken Kirk’s
winter solstice party.
The police were particularly vicious with this attack. They stuck a knee
in Amy’s back, they grabbed people by the throat, they kicked one person
in his broken leg, they cuffed someone with the flu and made him sit near
the open front door when it was -25?C outside, until he was throwing
All seven people were strip-searched. They charged six people with possession
for the purpose and one person with obstruction of justice.
The police stole approximately $1400 in cash, a pound of pot, a bong, a
vaporizer, scales, address books, grow guides, Ken’s anti-depressants,
Amy’s anti-inflammatories, and many pieces of ID. It took until Christmas
day to raise everyone’s bail
This raid was the second one that day. Earlier on, the same swat team visited
the Misty Mountain Cafe and arrested four people. Ken claimed that “the
remand was a who’s who of the drug trade” that weekend.
Grassroots organizer Coreen Shewfelt believes that the charges have no
chance of sticking, as even the warrant had the wrong name on it. She claims
the cops just want “an advantage against their competition in the drug
trade.” She continued to explain that “the cops and the bikers are fighting
for a monopoly in this city. Both the city police and the RCMP are so corrupt
that they seldom even make a pretense of being just.”
Amy wants to fight her first charge on constitutional grounds as she firmly
believes she wasn’t doing anybody any harm. She’s looking for expert witnesses
to testify at her August 27, 1997 trial.
? By David Malmo-Levine
For More Info
The Cannabis Relegalization
Society of Alberta can be reached through True North Hemp at: 10447 124th
St, Edmonton, T5N 1R7; tel (403) 451-4367; email [email protected].
Contact Amy von
Stackleberg can at (403) 425-1204. Ken Kirk is organizing Edmonton’s July
1 Cannabis Day Celebration this year. He can be reached at the same number.