Abbotsford, BC, Marijuana Party candidate and pot warrior Tim Felger is being held in jail until he comes up with $150,000 cash bail and agrees to submit to a voluntary twice-monthly search of his house and barn.
“Where the heck am I going to get $150,000 cash,” Tim wonders in a telephone interview from the North Fraser Pretrial Centre after video court yesterday. “I’m angry today but I’m trying not to take it out on anybody.”
He’s been in custody since Abbotsford Police, the Integrated Crime Unit and the DEA raided his deer farm and confiscated 2,090 plants from his barn January 6, 2005. Tim was charged, again, with cultivation, production and trafficking in marijuana.
Awaiting trial on charges stemming from two previous grow-op raids, Tim says the Crown used those previous charges against him during the Show Cause hearing, January 24, 2005. The hearing was an opportunity for Tim to convince the court why he should be released pending trial on the new charges. He was out on a recognizance before he was arrested this month.
The first charges were laid in 1999. He was nailed with cultivation, possession and trafficking after a police raided his Bradner Road property. Trial on those charges is set for March 14, 2005 in Abbotsford court. “I’ll win that,” Tim promises, “because the police lied to get the warrant.”
After a second police raid on his farm in 2003 he was hit with more cultivation and trafficking charges. He says a trusted friend turned police informant. “Abbotsford police arrested him [the informant]on theft charges,” Tim explains, “and he got out of jail by turning States Evidence on me but he was never on my property.” Tim goes to trial on these charges April 25, 2005.
The third and most recent raid happened the morning of January 6, 2005, after Brian C., a med-pot user who used Tim’s farm to grow marijuana, was snowed-in and someone else came to pick up his medicine. There was another licensed grower using his property and 35 registered users in the process of registering exemptions to his farm. (Up to three growers are allowed by Health Canada on one property).
“He called between 8 and 8:30 to see if I would bring him some medicine,” Tim recalls. “I said no. It was snowing out.” Neither of them had snow tires on their vehicles. They agreed a mutual friend with a four-wheel drive would pick up the Brian’s marijuana. Both Tim and Brian hold the required Health Canada licenses.
At 9 AM Tim went outside to unlock the seven-foot gate across his driveway and opened it to let the vehicle enter “and the police drove up behind him and arrested us.” Tim smirks. “There were four cops in the car and six came from my neighbor’s property to the north and six from my neighbor’s property to the south.”
“I closed the gate to keep the dogs in and they took me down,” he shakes his head. Laser beams from 8 or 9 hi-powered police rifles were all pointed at Tim’s chest during the arrest. On a recent visit at the pretrial centre the 47-year-old admits that this is the first time he’s ever really been scared during a raid.
Prison life sucks but “I swallow my pride and try not to think about it too much.” His first cellmate was a double murderer; the second one had 61 arrests “and he was dope sick when he came in.” The current one “steals cars and stabbed somebody,” he grimaces.
“My cell is smaller than my bathroom at home, Just take out the shower and put in two beds” Tim holds his head in his hands and chuckles despite his surroundings. “You know, they gave me a roommate with a bad attitude,” he continues. He doesn’t even want to talk about the prison food. Six hours a day he cleans bathrooms and seems happy to have something to do. He’s reading and writing a lot more these days.
Tim majored in Environmental Economics at the University of Ohio. Born in Kentucky, he came to Vancouver in 1986, bringing the Domino’s Pizza Franchises to BC with him. Five years later he sold his business and bought his tree farm (14,000 trees). The seven-foot fence surrounding the place is necessary to keep his herd of 14, or so, deer from certain road kill, the deer and the highway both visible from his living-room window.
Last year Tim ran for The Marijuana Party in the Abbotsford riding. He describes himself as a politician. “I chose the pot movement because it’s the most blatant sign of what’s wrong with our government,” and he chose The Marijuana Party “because it can’t be bought.”
“I do this because I want to effect change,” he explains. “I’ve exhausted all civil and political remedies [to end cannabis prohibition]so civil disobedience is the only choice left. People get stupid over the marijuana issue,” he asserts. “Our pot laws aren’t based on freedoms and current science, they’re based on U.S. policies. MP Randy White still preaches that cannabis is a gateway drug; he’s still using 80-year-old science.”
“They are protecting their own jobs,” Tim accuses the legal system and government in general. “It’s a systematic and deliberate attempt to quiet the opposition. They don’t want any dissent, protest or challenge to the status quo or their self interests.”
“They can try to put me in a cold, dark place and keep me there forever,” he challenges.
“Even though the pot movement isn’t all working in unison yet, it’s a deliberate effort to discredit us – but as people come out of the closet and step forward, and our organization builds up, we’re going to expose their lies and corruption,” Tim vows.
“I’m one of the Fraser Valley Generals,” he grins, describing his role in the war against cannabis prohibition. “I’m exactly right for this fight,” he believes. “Marijuana raids are not in the public interest and I know history will be kind to me.”
In the meantime, Tim is stirring it up inside the North Fraser Pretrial Centre. Not two weeks into his incarceration he led 22 fellow inmates to sign a complaint about the soda pop vending machine. “The price on the machine says $1.45,” he explains, “but they’re charging us $1.55.” The rebel group in Cell Block BW demanded that 10 cents be credited to the accounts of all inmates for a year, distribution of free pop for all, “and free pizza on Tuesday nights.” To date there have been no repercussions for this action and prison officials have offered no remedy for the complaint.
* Write to Tim Felger at: the North Fraser Pretrial Centre, 1451 Kingsway Avenue, Port Coquitlam, BC, V3C 1S2. For visits, call 604-468-3566.
* Tim Felger in the media: www.mapinc.org/people/tim felger