An incomprehensible string of bad legal decisions on pot plagues Canada the past two weeks, in a seeming backlash against public opinion, accepted practice and the direction of Canada’s highest courts.
For example, while smoke-easy style pot cafes have won acceptance in British Columbia and New Brunswick, the Bloc Pot’s newly opened Chez Marijane was invaded by cops on November 29, the business’ opening day. They made two arrests but backed down in front of the press.
“We’ll do something, don’t you worry,” blustered one officer, who wouldn’t even reveal his name. “But we’ll act when we’re ready, not when these drug users want to get on television.”
Perturbed police plan to continue harassing Chez Marijane’s customers, but it hasn’t slowed business one bit. Supporters throng the cafe.
A few days later, on Wednesday, December 3, a Calgary court ruled in the case of medpot user Grant Kreiger, who was arrested on charges of possession and trafficking in connection with work he was doing for a medpot club. During the trial, Judge Paul Chrumka took the highly unusual step of instructing the jury to find Kreiger guilty, after two jurors outright refused to convict. The jurors were cowed and followed the order of the judge.
On Monday, December 8, the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board refused to give refugee status to Steve Kubby, a US pot activist suffering from adrenal cancer, and the first American to get a Canadian medpot exemption. Kubby has convincingly proven that without regular, hourly ingestion of marijuana, he riskes increasingly life-threatening complications from a rare form of adrenal cancer. The board ruled to send him back to California, where he faces 120 days in jail and would be denied his medicine for the entire stay. Should Kubby return to California, he would surely die.
Also on Monday, Canada’s Federal Government released new medpot guidelines. The guidelines were ordered changed by the Ontario Court of Appeal. The new rules, however, flouted the Ontario Court of Appeal’s order, only partially enacting the changes ordered by the court. Pot patients can now pay their suppliers cash in return for medicine, and will only need the signature of one specialist to get a medpot exemption, but Health Canada preserved a part of the regulations that allows a grower to only grow for one patient, and only three patients to grow together. In its ruling, the Ontario Court of Appeal had ordered the government to remove such restrictions.
The predictable result of such moves is more legal wrangling.
Since the Canadian government has failed to fully implement the order of the court, which would have fixed constitutional problems with Canada’s pot possession laws, Canadian activists – like Tim Meehan of Ontario Consumers for Safe Access to Recreational Cannabis – are hailing the coming season as the “Winter of Legalization.” For if Canada’s pot possession laws are unconstitutional, prosecutions are bound to fail. Meanwhile, renowned pot-law expert Alan Young has announced that he will mount a law suit against the Federal Government for contempt of court.
Likewise, Grant Kreiger will appeal his case, while activists at Chez Marijane will continue to push the envelope until they gain acceptance for their enterprise. Busts at such cafes are usual, even expected at the beginning, but sooner or later, police tire of arresting innocent potheads.
Ultimately, the message Canada’s pot activists send to police, the courts and the government is that the more we are slandered, the more we will speak out, the more we are oppressed, the more we will fight for our rights, and the more we are jailed, the more we will struggle for our freedom.