Pot Activist David Malmo-Levine Sentenced To Six Months In Jail

Well-known marijuana activist David Malmo-Levine, who MCs most of Vancouver's pot rallies, has been sentenced to six months in prison. (Photos by Jeremiah Vandermeer)Well-known marijuana activist David Malmo-Levine, who MCs most of Vancouver’s pot rallies, has been sentenced to six months in prison. (Photos by Jeremiah Vandermeer)CANNABIS CULTURE – Vancouver ‘Herb School’ activist David Malmo-Levine was handed a six-month prison sentence yesterday by a B.C. Provincial Court judge.

Despite hopes by the prominent marijuana activist that Judge Joseph Galati might grant him a conditional sentence for his role as the “Grand Poobah” of the The Vancouver School of Drugwar History and Organic Cultivation (known as the Herb School), he received a six-month sentence and the forfeiture of about 4.5 kilos of marijuana and hashish (estimated at $42,500), 196 grams of magic mushrooms, 7 grams of opium, and $5000 in cash.

The Herb School provided the downtown community with educational Drug War History Walking Tours, and supplied its customers with high-quality cannabis and other herbs in a safe and clean environment. The School focused on reducing the harm associated with cannabis use and drug prohibition and was located at 123A East Hastings St., next-door to Insite, North America’s first legal supervised injection site.

Early in October, David presented his arguments to the judge at a 3-day sentencing hearing, giving an eloquent and impassioned argument against the prohibition of herbs and painting a picture of himself as a political activist engaged in a legitimate act of civil disobedience. Crown prosecutors attempted to paint David as a greedy drug dealer who was harmful to the community.

Judge Galati seemed surprisingly sympathetic to David and his cause during the three days of testimony, which included submissions supporting David from Harvard Professor Dr. Lester Grinspoon and Canadian Senator Pierre Claude Nolin. In order to fully consider the issue, the judge scheduled the last day of sentencing for October 28, 2009, giving himself a month to make his decision.

In yesterday’s proceedings, the judge maintained his considerate attitude, presenting David in a mostly-positive light as he summarized the testimony of the 3-day hearing, even telling the activist, “In some ways I admire you”.

The judge reviewed the evidence presented by David, the Crown, and other witnesses and acknowledged the widespread use of cannabis as a medicine and substance that could “make healthy people healthier”.

He accepted that the Herb School was largely an “educational” institution whose goal was “harm reduction”, and that Malmo-Levine honestly believed his actions were beneficial to society, and judged this as relevant to his sentencing. Galati would not, however, make a judgment on the specific dangers of drug prohibition – saying that this was not relevant to the sentencing.

At that point, the Judge changed his tone: The Justice system is “the cornerstone” of our government, he said, and “no one is above the law”.

The Judge pointed to David’s previous convictions and the activist’s own comments that his sentence would send a message to other pot activists, and mentioned David’s remarks that a prison sentence would not deter him from his point of view and future activism.

“I hope he is wrong” Judge Galati said, “[…] I feel imprisonment is the appropriate sentence.” He claimed he saw no other choice but to give David a jail sentence, as a conditional sentence, he said, “cannot possibly contribute to the respect of the law”.

He said his decision was based on the fact that David “posses a significant risk of reoffending” and could possibly “endanger” the community. The decision, he said, was “designed to deter David from breaking the law” in the future, but noted that it would be a relatively short sentence (the maximum penalty for David’s offences is life imprisonment).

As part of his sentence, David was given a lifetime ban on firearm ownership, and the Judge authorized authorities to take a DNA sample for the Canadian government’s database.

“He made a lot of concessions that I think are valuable, including acknowledging the ‘harm principle’ more than once,” said David’s lawyer Natalie Dunbar. “I just think that he felt his hands were tied and had no other choice”.

Dunbar felt that David’s unrepentant stance contributed to the Judges decision.

“Even though the Judge said he respected David’s activism, he couldn’t turn a blind eye to the chance he might offend again,” she said.

She expects that David could be released on good behavior in four months, and also suggested that they may appeal the Judges order to take a DNA sample.

David Malmo-Levine is a cannabis activist well-known in Vancouver for hosting the popular 4/20 and Cannabis Day rallies at the Vancouver Art Gallery. David has worked for years with activist Marc Emery, and is a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture Magazine and Pot-TV.

As David was being led out of the courtroom, supporters yelled “we love you David” and shouted disapprovingly at the Judge.

Click here to read more about David Malmo-Levine’s case.

Read David Malmo-Levine’s Blog and check out his Pot-TV Show High Society.

More information on how to write or contact David coming soon…



  1. Anonymous on


  2. Benjamin on

    Before you try opium, I suggest you quit marijuana cold turkey; if you smoke tobacco, quitting that would be an even better trial. It`s too obvious that mj isn`t enough and CC should either draw some boundaries, or drop the pretense.

    In ME countries, opium is considered an old persons palliative care for the aches and pains a life of hard work brings. You want some premature pain and suffering, get addicted to opiates of any kind.

  3. Anonymous on

    What have we learned from these kind of cases? That in Canada you can openly traffic narcotics, either through the mail or right in a storefront, for literally years until the police actually get around to charging you. By that time you would have amassed enough money to pay whatever bail is set and to flee to another country and live there for the rest of your life under an assumed identity, providing you’re not insane and give all the money away.

  4. Anonymous on

    Nothing wrong with arguing your own case. Who gives a shit what the judge thinks about it? Lawyers charge way too much and do way too little. Lots of people have gone to prison because of incompetent lawyers. I wouldn’t trust my case to one. If a person is too stupid to argue their case better than the average lawyer, they’re too stupid to be on the streets and need to be kept away from the rest of society.

  5. Anonymous on

    “I’d say it’s a pretty light sentence for 10 pounds of weed and almost half a pound of shrooms. Of course, if he does it again it will be a lot longer I’m sure.”

    Pretty light? Are you kidding? There are *many* courts in Canada that he would have faced 5 years in a Penetentiary for those amounts. I don’t know what the hell opium was doing in his stash, but that alone would be enough to draw the ire of many, many judges.

    6 months? He’s out in *four*, folks. I don’t disagree that any custodial sentence is a bitter pill to swallow, but that’s a *remarkably* light sentence. Do keep it in perspective please.

  6. Anonymous on

    Where ever you go… well, there you are.

    That one kept me from “walls creeping in” on me.

    Not to mention o’ll Axel’s; oh no Man don’t let it get to you !

    …and yu’r…Just fuckin gone….

    Hang in there buddy 😉

  7. Anonymous on

    I claim that “part. quote” social change does happen by peace loving fucktards like the cannabis movement.

    Inside what time frame are you thinking Ano 21:34 ?
    And are you aware that there also exist a world still after you are gone?
    And that without you, nothing would have been here?
    And that everything is connected to everything?
    And that if you don’t get an imediate proof of your actions that that does not mean that no actions have become affected by yours?

    (you just took 5 min of my time, but I think it might be worth it.
    Even if it did n’t do noth’n else but to proof my point.)

    Had a bad day ano 21:34 ? How did you learn it realy?

    Get someth’n to smoke Man, with some luck it’ll be on the house for you today. 🙂

  8. Anonymous on

    Please tell me which you prefer, the left or the right nut ? today I am in a good mood and you can choose which side of my ball sack you wish to suck on. you hippy stand in the streets with your signs giving out free hugs should shut the fuck up and do something more constructive with your time. If you by the age of 21 have not figured out how the world around you works, you should yourself crawl into a 205 liter barrel and cork yourself. I am not trying to change the laws you dipshit. I learned a while ago social change doesnt happen by peace loving fucktards like the cannabis movement.

  9. bubner on

    malmo-levine do the time and treat it as one of life’s learning experiences or a camping trip like Ricky and Julien. As for opioids, how many dicks would you suck for a bag of weed?

  10. Anonymous on

    Malmo-Levine is alright with me. I even think I bought some hash and mushrooms from him at his Eastings location a few years ago. But what worries me is that this guy is acting like a martyr for the cause. WTF representing yourself in a court of law? That already makes the court hostile to you since they interpret it as hubris. Malmo-Levine should always have a lawyer.
    It’s mentioned that he sold “small quantities of opium.” I am now in the position to smoke some of this stuff. I’ve never used an opiate before. What is the consensus by you people on use? Safe? Heavenly? The road to perdition? The poet Kenneth Rexroth wrote in in his autobiography that those who use opiates casually eventually become addicted. ***My biggest fear is that I will like it too much***. Quite honestly, some of the weed I’ve been smoking lately smacks (no pun intended) of a narcotic. I mean this particular strain is ***intensely relaxing*** and I reckon similar to an opiate high. Comments about the issue of trying opium pro or con would be appreciated.

  11. Anonymous on

    Yeah, those poor drunks. The liquor ties them down and pours itself down their throats. They’re innocent victims of the liquor. Malmo should have told the judge he sold drugs to pay for his liquor addiction. Then the judge would have said “haven’t we all done that at some time, off you go”.

  12. david dickinson on

    In R v Monteith, the court ordered a former schoolteacher to serve 45 days in jail for sexually exploiting three high school students. The judge was very sympathetic to the perpetrator, like he was some kind of victim himself, because he had a drinking problem. In R v. Gillan, a drunken off-duty West Van cop was given a short community based sentence for beating up a person of colour for no reason. The judge was very sympathetic to the perpetrator because alcoholism is so prevalent in law enforcement. So, the way to get a slack sentence is to be an alcoholic who beats people up or who molests children (or who gets in a car and kills someone). If Malmo Levine wants to use drugs and stay out of jail, clearly he must change his ways, and become a violent alcoholic who rapes and kills. Only then will the judge “relate” to him as a “fellow alcoholic” whose acts of violence are perfectly acceptable. LONG LIVE ALCOHOL!

  13. B. Weitzman, Esq. on

    Hmmmmm? Wonder if the fact that Winter Olympics are coming to ‘Couver
    has any relation to Emery and Malmo-Levine prosecutions.

  14. American Citizen on

    Canada’s laws are so lenient. I’d get 2 years in prison, and a $5,000 fine just for having that much weed with the intent to distribute in my state. David can do six months in jail no problem. It won’t stop him from continuing to educate the public about the usefulness, and history behind herbs. I wonder if your conservative government is just doing this to try an silence your activists, or if the police just felt like raiding him.

  15. Anonymous on


    In a broader perspective, all that happened was just right.

    Everything had to go as it went,so there is no one to blame, no one to have done wrong.

    It’s the game of our universe acting out on us.

    With some large understanding and a view from ear to ear, one might be able to find purpose behind all of this.

    Often during evolution, progress can only be made by putting extremes to the test in order to learn and move forwards.

    Outcomes are never predicteble.

    Alltough multiple possible outcomes seem of option to anticipate, rule of evolution and universe however show that every new devellopment to the reason of our progress will cause extension of multiple possible outcomes to apear.

    The accelerated domino effect of interrelated reactions seem to exponentially increase, since time itself is noting more as a spherical exponentially increasing motion of consciense.

    No more philosophy for today.

    I Think I got the point of what it is you are doing David, I foresee you getting lots of company anytime soon.
    Just hang in there and be prepared to move over.

    By a Man Who, Who just is.

    Some Friend of yours 🙂

  16. Anonymous on

    I’d say it’s a pretty light sentence for 10 pounds of weed and almost half a pound of shrooms. Of course, if he does it again it will be a lot longer I’m sure.

    While I admire his courage in openly selling illegal substances in a storefront, he has to accept that doing so will bring incarceration. Selling seeds in a store is one thing, but finished buds is quite another. Seeds would take months of effort to result in usable drug. David was just handing it to you ready to enjoy. The court had to decide whether they wanted Vancouver to become the new Amsterdam, and apparently they chose no.

    If they hadn’t given him at least 6 months it would have been wide open for anybody else to set up a weed, shroom, opium and who knows what else store, just like what already happened with seeds. He means no harm but he had to be jailed or weed would have had to be legalized and I don’t think that one Vancouver judge wants to be the guy with that hung around his neck. The US government would be on him like resin on a bud trimmer’s fingers.

  17. Brian Kerr on

    The Judge gave him a jail sentence because David, “posses a significant risk of reoffending” Well No Shit. I don’t obey these immoral and fascist drug laws. If I am sent to prison that wont stop me from ignoring the immoral drug laws when I get out. The judge could have imposed a much harsher sentence. I don’t think that anybody should get jail for drug laws where there are no victims or violence involved.

    I think we all should concentrate on legalizing Cannabis and forget for a while about things like shrooms and opium.
    (I like both by the way) I don’t think adding this in the mix helped David’s case. Stay focused.

    I respect David and Marc and thank them and all people like them for there *blowing smoke in the cops face* style of activism. I wish I had half there guts. I do my part as we all do. I sure wish a speedy release for Marc and David.

    Is there an email address for the judge in the case ? I would love to give him a respectfully piece of my mind.

    NORML member
    LEAP Member

    Brian Kerr

  18. Dave on

    I think they’re all bent out of shape on their authority thing. They don’t like it as a matter of fact they hate it when we tell them, to their faces, that no amount of bullying will make us stop.

    David just be careful they don’t make you wear baby-dolls then throw you down some elevator shaft for speaking out.

    I can only wish, that most Canadians, including myself, were as courageous as you and Marc are. Thanks again David.

    I heard jailers like paper. I’m sure you can keep them busy with all sorts of paper!

  19. Tyler on

    I read about how some 15-year-old gun nut hunter in the USA killed a woman hiker “by mistake” and got nothing but probation. Another teenager ran a stop sign while texting and killed a woman, and got house arrest. Hells Angels and Indo-Canadian gangsters run people over, shoot them, drown them, run meth houses, and get 2-3 year sentences. Child molesters get short sentences. But a guy who sells plants and mushrooms to people who want them, he gets 6 months in jail?!! Until we throw off the oligarchic slavedrivers in government, media and corporations who run our lives and control our courts, we will see bullshit happen like what happened to DML and Marc.

  20. Atlanta Toker on

    This guy has done more for the community and to educate people about his city than any individual that passed sentence on him today. This act against David is the abortion of justice. Its immoral. All those that had anything to do with this young man being in prison are responsible for this. The beat cop, local politicians, judges all the way to the top of Canadian political system. You are nothing more than a bunch of political hacks. Knowing the truth about marijuana and still doing this is proof that you are NOTIHNG more than Pure cowards…

    Please see the testimony below from a Retired Orange County Superior Court Judge in California on the legalization of marijuana. (copy the full link for viewing.)

    Its refreshing to hear the truth for a change from the law enforcement community. To know that this judge has first hand knowledge in many cases about marijuana possession and to then continue to jail people for marijuana use is nothing more than cruel, elitist, immoral, political cowards. Shameful….

  21. Worm on

    I believe i said standing up to unjust laws, it doesnt matter the quantity, was he suppose to run his herb school with a few grams. And yes when the judge makes comments like that and still sentences him to jail time I was suprised.

  22. Anonymous on

    Please tell us, then, how you are going about changing these draconian laws, and how much more effective you have been than Marc or David in shedding light onto the cause for anti-prohibition… because, honestly, I think we’d all sooner see you rotting behind bars than someone who’s done an ounce of good for the cause. Then your point of view might have a shred of validity. Until then, go a head and “Vote” for change, or whatever the fuck you “real” freedom-fighters do for change and justice, you hypocrite. Oh my mistake, you said we’d better WAIT for things to change? You actually fucking said THAT?!?! Well, Ive got something you can do while your head is buried beneath the sand in ignorance like all the rest of the flock of sheeple you belong too: go read some information on Activism and shut the fuck up until you realize what type of bleating noise is spilling out of your face.

    Dont sit there behind your fucking computer screen sympathizing with law-officials who dont seem to have enough personal moral fibre to stand up to unjust, immoral, unenforcable, useless laws, while enjoying your afternoon toke that these activists you think so lowly of have fought, and continue to fight for, so that you can actually ENJOY your fuckin toke without having to worry about going to jail over a couple grams.

    Seriously, my friend. Use your brain, realize where you are, and smarten the fuck up. Thanks!

  23. Lygeia on

    There has to be a better way.

    It only feeds the dying, dominant culture of arrest, prosecution, and incarceration to have rallies in the street and try to argue with a judge. There has to be a better way.

    David Malmo-Levine should not be going to prison. The entheogens he possessed at his not-for-profit educational facility should not be taxed at the rate of his personal freedom.

    However, if the corporations get a hold of these plants, God only knows what poisons they will create from this healing plant.

    Perhaps there is a way to leave behind the dominant culture. Maybe we should all stay under the radar and change the world by dropping off the grid and letting the dominant culture destroy itself. This judge has had his life improved by having David Malmo-Levine in his court room to argue for the repeal of the marijuana laws. Perhaps the judge should have been left to his old world-view. David Malmo-Levine should have been left alone and never prosecuted.

  24. Anonymous on

    As a person in the U.S., I enjoy watching David Malmo-Levine’s videos. They are well done and educational. He does an excellent job of showing people that the stereotypes from the 1970s are unfounded and untrue. Some of the most intelligent, productive, and peaceful people I’ve known preferred cannabis to drugs such as alcohol and nicotine.

    I wish him well and hope he is treated nicely. He and his fellow protesters have shown Canadian law enforcement on numerous occasions what most people are like while using cannabis during protests. The police and judges should be honest and ask themselves if they’d rather have people using alcohol and other drugs instead. Who do they tend to have more serious problems with?

    Take care David.

  25. Anonymous on

    you make no sense in your response. I am not for the unjust laws. The flat FACT I said is that you people.. WE should not be surprised of the sentence. DONT even try and compare ounces of mushrooms and pounds of cannabis that he had to the grams I may have. infact re read what I said and think a little.

    I am all for breaking the law to change the law, there is a way to go about changing laws, but when you do what he and marc have done… DONT BE SURPRISED. I have done the love everyone and peace and pot and it gets the movement no where. we will have to wait for the close minded right conservative god loving idiots to die off before out precious flower is “safe” from the law.

  26. Worm on

    You should be grateful to people like David & Marc for the personal sacrafices they have made, in the the hopes that one day we can all sit down and enjoy a joint of the herb without the worry about that knock on the door. You sound like you believe every law is just and standing up to unjust laws is wrong. I wonder how much “illegal stuff” you have in your home.

    Peace & Pot

  27. DML Fan, Ex-Anonymous on

    Typo: the last two words should be “top bunk”.

    I’m not as think as you stoned I am.

  28. Anonymous on

    umm ? what did everyone expect ? There are ways to go about getting change in a society done and sometimes you have to pay a price to go against the grain. David is serving six months for going against the grain. My jaw hit the floor when I read how much substance they found while searching, even if its half that amount how stupid or inept do you have to be to keep that much illegal stuff in the building ? I know some people are thinking it but i’ll say it. HE GOT WHAT HE HAD COMMIN… I think it is complete bullshit and the drug laws are rejected. But when you act in the way he did what do you expect ? honestly ? even with marc, what do you expect ? ” oh thats okay, go free, just be more secret about it ” …. get real people.

  29. DML Fan, Ex-Anonymous on

    First Marc Emery gets years, now David gets months, is it just me or is the timing suspect?

    The Olympics are just around the corner and a large part of the foundation of marijuana activism in Vancouver is in jail.

    Truth be told I’ve never really done much in the way of activism other than attending rallies, sending emails, calling politicians, etc. Maybe now is the time to amp things up a bit. And it’s not just me. My peers in our culture feel the same way. Some might say that crushing a poppy only spreads the seeds. Fuck I’m pissed off.

    And as far as David’s sentence goes, why not house arrest? Canadian taxpayers are going to foot the bill for David’s stay in jail, and those dollars could be saved by him being remanded to house arrest. I firmly believe that anyone being sentenced to jail time must have a victim out there, or at least the probability of a victim being created (drunk driving, stalking, etc) to necessitate prison incarceration.

    David: As far as top bunk or lower bunk I think I’ll go with the lower bunk. I’m a 6’7″ and 300 lb ex-football player so you wouldn’t want me on the lower bunk.

  30. Oby San on

    This is a miscarriage of justice.

    David man, major respect for presenting your arguments ; it was clear that the judge saw the benefit of what you were doing, which admittedly, only makes the sentence worse.

    DoJ Minister (or is it Sinister) Nicholson wants to tie all judges hand with Bill C-15. Scary times my friends, scary times. We are not criminals in the eyes of our peers, only in the eyes of the Justice department. It’s madness !

    Write to the Senate and take down C-15 !!