Cannabis Culture protests censorship

Police in Timmins, Ontario, have threatened local storeowners with arrest if they continue selling Cannabis Culture and High Times magazines. As a result, both have been pulled off the shelves of all stores in the city.
To protest this police action, Cannabis Culture publisher Marc Emery will be in Timmins on Saturday, October 21, to openly sell Cannabis Culture magazine in front of the police station.

Also, Cannabis Culture lawyer Alan Young has sent a letter to the Timmins Chief of Police, Denis Lavoie, asking for an official order for Timmins Police to cease and desist in their actions against Cannabis Culture, as well as a letter of apology to Marc Emery for violating his expressive freedom.

What follows is the complete text of an ad which Cannabis Culture purchased in the Timmins Daily Press, which will appear on Friday, October 20.

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To the people of Timmins,

I am the publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, which has recently been taken off of your store shelves because of local police actions.

Our magazine is the voice of those who use cannabis medicinally, socially, spiritually and industrially.

Timmins Police have recently told storekeepers to take our magazine off of the shelves, with threat of criminal charges if they do not comply. As a result, Cannabis Culture Magazine is no longer available for sale in Timmins.

The police’s claim that Cannabis Culture Magazine is illegal is simply wrong. Ontario’s highest court ruled in 1995 that it is unconstitutional to ban drug-related literature, writing that “a democracy cannot exist without the freedom to advocate new ideas and to put forward opinions…”

The court ruling reaffirmed the freedom of magazines such as Cannabis Culture to be openly printed, sold and read, without threat or harassment from the police. The arbitrary and brazen behavior by the police in silencing the truth must be condemned.

As a native of Ontario, I am always shocked and saddened when such censorship is applied in the province of my birth.

I will be coming to Timmins this Saturday, and I will be selling the newest issue of Cannabis Culture magazine in front of Timmins Police headquarters at 2pm.

I strongly encourage the people of Timmins to come out and defend your liberty and freedom to read. Your police are trying to stifle Canada’s only magazine devoted to defending the decent human dignity that we are all entitled to, as Canadians and as the Cannabis Culture.

I am also a candidate for the Marijuana Party of Canada, and want to talk to any and all about your participation as candidates and volunteers in the coming election.

Yours in the glorious struggle for human freedom,

Marc Emery

Publisher, Cannabis Culture Magazine

Producer, Pot-TV

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And here is the complete text of the letter sent by Cannabis Culture lawyer Alan Young to the Timmins Chief of Police:

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To Police Chief Denis Lavoie Timmins Police Services 150 Algonquin Blvd. East Timmins, Ontario P4N 1A7

Dear Chief Lavoie

Re: “Cannabis Culture” and Freedom of Expression

I am authorized to write this letter by Marc Emery, the publisher and owner of Cannabis Culture. It has come to our attention that the local police in Timmins have been attempting to intimidate and scare distributors and retailers who sell the magazine, Cannabis Culture. The actions of the local police were detailed in an article in the Timmins Daily Press by James Thom. Cst Romualdi is quoted as saying that “to sell or distribute the magazines is illegal… We’re bringing it to the attention of store owners. If they continue to bring it in, they will be dealt with…”

As a result of these acts of intimidation, the distributor of the magazine, Teck News, has pulled the magazine from nine stores in Timmons which had sole the journal. I am shocked that your police force would show this kind of disregard for the fundamental freedom of expression found in s.2(b) of the Charter of Rights. First, it is considered an unconstitutional “prior restraint” for police officers to use their power and authority to compel citizens to remove expressive material from the marketplace. If you truly believe the action of selling the magazines was illegal your only course of action would have been to lay charges, as it violates the Charter to employ informal state coercion to remove expressive materials from the marketplace of ideas.

Far more significantly, it is apparent that the local police force is unaware (or has been wilfully blind) of the decision in Iorfida v. McIntyre (1995) 21OR (3d) 186 (Gen.Div.). In that case we were successful in having the court invalidate the drug literature prohibition contained in s.462.2 of the Criminal Code. The Department of Justice abandoned their appeal of this ruling and it is binding throughout Ontario. It is very disturbing to discover that law enforcement officials are apparently not aware of the fact that a Criminal Code offence has been declared of no force and effect. I would have assumed that you would have taken steps to ensure that your officers are kept informed of significant developments under the Charter of Rights.

Putting aside Cst. Romualdi’s bizarre and unfounded suggestion that Cannabis Culture constitutes a “crime comic” under the Criminal Code, it is clear that there no longer exists any Criminal Code offence which would prevent the sale and distribution of this magazine. Your officers cannot lay charges related to this magazine, nor can they effectively prohibit distribution by a series of veiled threats. Plain and simple, Cannabis Culture is protected expression and what your officers have done constitutes a very serious breach of this fundamental freedom.

For the time being I will give you and your officers the benefit of the doubt and assume that this violative conduct has been undertaken without an intent to infringe upon the expressive rights of Canadians. Accordingly, Mr Emery will not initiate legal proceedings immediately as he is willing to give you an opportunity to make amends. We are asking that you take the following steps to right this wrong:

1) Issue a cease and desist order to all Timmins police officers to ensure that no further action is taken which is directed towards the removal of this magazine from retail outlets in Timmins;

2) Issue a letter of apology to Marc Emery expressing regret over the improvident violation of his expressive freedom under s.2(b) of the Charter.

In light of the Iorfida case, supra, I believe that Mr Emery’s demands are more than reasonable. As you can understand, it does not take a great leap of faith to conclude that the action of th police force would be considered a flagrant violation of the Charter in light of the fact that the offence being investigated had been declared unconstitutional over 5 years ago.

If we do not receive the “cease and desist” direction for your officers, and the apology, by Monday, October 30, 2000, I will advise Mr Emery to commence legal action. I truly believe it would be a mistake for you to ignore this letter, but the decision and this mistake, is clearly yours to make.

Thank you in advance for attending to this matter.

Yours truly,

Alan N Young

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We at Cannabis Culture appreciate the support of our reading and websurfing public. Please take a moment to send an email or fax to the Timmins Daily Press, decrying the unlawful censorship taking place in their town.

Timmins Daily Press: email [email protected]; tel 705-268-5050; fax 705-268-7373

Why not also call or email the Timmins Police Department and politely tell them what you think about their harassment of Cannabis Culture Magazine? Timmins Police Department: tel (705) 264-1201; email [email protected]

The Mayor of Timmons, Victor Power, should also be contacted and encouraged not to persecute Cannabis Culture. Mayor Power: tel (705) 360-1306; email [email protected]