Constitutional Challenge Update, 1997

Constitutional Challenge Update, Spring 1997

March 31, 1997
What follows is an update on the current situations at four hemp storesthat are involved with constitutional challenges. This is an excerpt fromthe coming issue of Cannabis Canada.


Hemp Nation proprietor Chris Clay was arrested on May 17, 1995 afterselling small cannabis plant cuttings in his London, Ontario store.Although he operated Canada’s first hemp store for two years previously,local police finally decided he had “pushed the envelope” too far and laida number of charges.

With the help of Toronto law professor Alan Young and his partner PaulBurstein, a challenge of Canada’s cannabis laws was launched onconstitutional grounds. Professor Young has been planning the challenge formore than ten years, and had a partial victory recently when an Ontariocourt struck down the laws banning drug literature. The challenge willbring expert witnesses from all over North America to testify.

Hemp Nation was busted again on December 6, 1996; this time, police decidedmarijuana seeds are “narcotics” and seized computers, financial records and$40,000+ of inventory.

Please support the upcoming legal battle by making a small donation –funds are urgently required to bring expert witnesses to testify. The trialof Chris Clay begins on April 28, 1997 in London, Ontario, Canada. Thecountdown is on, and victory means legal cannabis for industrial, medicaland recreational purposes.


As of March 27, $19,125 CDN has been raised. Over 500 Victory Bonds havebeen sold, and recently Marc Emery, owner of Hemp BC, personally donated$4,000.

However, Professor Young was counting on a $25,000 grant from U.S.billionaire George Soros’ Drug Policy Foundation. The trial begins in 4weeks and we haven’t received approval yet. We are now under tremendouspressure to raise money as quickly as possible since flights andaccomodations must be booked immediately for the expert witnesses.

So far, over $9,000 has been spent towards transcripts, phone calls,photocopies, court fees etc. As a result, there remains approximately$10,000 in the trust account. We estimate the remaining expenses for theconstitutional challenge to top $15,000.

Please do what you can to help. Professor Young and his partner PaulBurstein have literally spent hundreds of hours on this case at no charge,and have prepared a very comprehensive challenge to Canada’s outdatedcannabis laws. Donations of any size are urgently required to ensuresuccess.

The Constitutional challenge begins April 28th

Have you bought your Victory Bond yet?


When Vancouver police raided Hemp BC on January 5, 1996, they seized theirentire inventory of pipes, bongs and vapourizers, as well as their wholesupply of marijuana seeds, and other miscellaneous items like computerdisks with back issues of Cannabis Canada. Yet although owner Marc Emeryfaces eight counts of trafficking in marijuana seeds, he has not beencharged with anything relating to the seized paraphernalia or other items.Despite this, Vancouver police refuse to return his merchandise, claimingthat it is simply “illegal” and that they do not need to lay a charge tokeep his products.

This judicial decision by the Vancouver police as to what is and is notprohibited is clearly not justifiable in a free society. If this kind ofarbitrary police seizure is allowed to go unchallenged it may quicklybecome the norm, and the police will certainly use the tactic of repeatedlyseizing merchandise without pressing charges as a simple and effectivemeans of driving hemp stores across Canada out of business.

Marc goes to trial in July, but that is only a hearing to determine if thecourt will hear his constitutional challenge. It is likely that his actualtrial will be a long process which could last for at least a year. In themeantime Marc Emery continues to sell pipes, bongs and seeds at Hemp BC.

Contact Marc Emery at (604) 681-4690, [email protected]
Contact the Vancouver Police Department at (604) 665-3081, or (604) 665-2129.


In Surrey, Randy Caine has decided to close down The Joint after 15 monthsof being in business. He claims that he is the victim of “a very wellorganized campaign to drive The Joint out of the community.”

Randy has been steadily harassed by Surrey City Hall since he opened hisbusiness. He was consistently denied a business license, and slandered byCouncil members who claimed that he was running a disreputable businessthat would give Surrey a “bad name”. At one point the City Councilsuggested that his store, which sells hemp clothing, pipes, and coffee withsnacks, should fall under the category of a massage parlor or escortservice, and therefore pay $3000 or more for a business license.

Randy explained that he wanted The Joint to have a “friendly atmosphere”,but that the harassment from City Council made his customers afraid theywere under scrutiny, and scared away his business. Randy says he wants toreopen, but first he is taking the City of Surrey to court, suing the CityCouncil for damages.

Contact Randy Caine at (604) 534-9971.
Contact Surrey City Council at (604) 591-4126.


In Victoria, Ian Hunter of the Sacred Herb will be going before a SupremeCourt judge on April 7, 8 and 9, in a case arising out of his sellingmarijuana seeds and growing a hemp plant in his store. The first part ofthe trial will be based upon constitutional arguments.

Contact Ian Hunter at (250) 384-0659.

Dana Larsen [email protected]
Editor, Cannabis Canada, “Canada’s National Magazine of Marijuana & Hemp”
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