Over The Edge

Sam was an extreme sports enthusiast, who thrived on the adrenaline of risk taking. He grew up in the B.C. interior, living in Nelson, where the flourishing mountain biking scene offered him new challenges.Sam was an extreme sports enthusiast, who thrived on the adrenaline of risk taking. He grew up in the B.C. interior, living in Nelson, where the flourishing mountain biking scene offered him new challenges.On February 23, 2009, 24-year-old Sam Brown of British Columbia was arrested by U.S. authorities in Washington State as he landed a helicopter he had piloted across the border. Sam’s crime: he was attempting to smuggle almost 200 kilograms of marijuana, “B.C. Bud”. Only a few days after his arrest, Sam hanged himself in his jail cell. In Over the Edge, Linden MacIntyre takes us into the world of drug smuggling in B.C. and the role in it of young people like Sam Brown.

WATCH the full documentary video on CBC NEWS: THE FIFTH ESTATE

Sam was an extreme sports enthusiast, who thrived on the adrenaline of risk taking. He grew up in the B.C. interior, living in Nelson, where the flourishing mountain biking scene offered him new challenges. Rugged and picturesque, Nelson is a hotbed for the young and unconventional, a magnet for extreme sports enthusiasts—and a centre for the lucrative, underground marijuana industry.

The homegrown pot, “B.C. Bud”, pours billions of illegal dollars into local economies in B.C. Huge demand for the drug has allowed Nelson to ride out normal economic swings. But “B.C. Bud” also fuels a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise on B.C.’s lower mainland and the United States, sustained largely by a core group of thrill-seekers like Sam—young people who smuggle drugs for the sheer high of the risk and their addiction to the money.

In Over the Edge, the fifth estate reconstructs Sam’s final smuggling mission. Linden MacIntyre speaks with a former smuggler who recruited Sam into that world. Viewers will also hear from his sisters and father, still grappling with the circumstances of his arrest and his death, as well as Sam’s American lawyers, some of the last people to speak with him before he took his life.

– Article from CBC News: The Fifth Estate on November 13, 2009.



  1. like a thousand swords on

    Think of the many more stories out there like this. Not just suicides, but those shot or beat up by cops, those killed behind bars from other more violent inmates. At least as many stories as New York’s finest corruption stories that date as far back to alcohol’s prohibition. Or the many stories of those losing their lives due to stupid and childish gang turf wars, GOOD cops getting shot in the middle, people getting their heads chopped off in Mexico simply for being suspected of being a narc, etc.

    Prohibition has brought us NOTHING BUT A BLACKMARKET, DEATH, CORRUPTION, AND DESTRUCTION. While the drug trade thrives more than ever before and without any regulation. The free for all is over for BOTH sides. Cartels cant do what they want and more over cops cant get away with anything they want (talking about both types that are either involved in the trade and/or those that simply get off on abusing people).

    Then there’s the loss of tax revenue which would benefit society, rather than have the monies “disappear” into the blackmarket. There’s the political corruption to maintain the status quo and profits flowing, etc. Things that legalization would help clean up. Real great work here by our so called moral crusaders. Wait until future generations read about this blunder in history class. If you think alcohol prohibition and its moral crusaders looked bad……


  2. like a thousand swords on

    If marijuana is not the issue here, what was he arrested for? What was he behind bars for? What was he being charged with?

    “One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
    – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Nothing wrong with disobeying unjust laws and living life as one should.

  3. LabRat on

    Sam Brown laid his cards on the table and decided to cut himself out of the next deal. His choice and his alone.

    As sad as it is it’s the price any of us may have to decide to pay when stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    To be facing an unknown sentence for a first offence and then to take the easy way out knowing the pain he would inflict on his family and friends is the act of a coward.

    I have been fighting depression for thirty years that is at least as bad as any pain this young man felt for what, thirty days? I have many ways to end my pain easily but I think of my mother, my sisters, my sons and my four young grandsons. Not to mention my wife and stepdaughter. I’m pretty sure my dog would feel some pain for a while and maybe even some of our cats.

    How often do I need to think about the impact to them to keep me from taking the easy way out. Every day. Sometimes every minute of every day.

    I’m no hero, but then again, I’m no coward.

    I might check myself out but only if the Mad Cow is dragging me down or the cancer is making me scream out my last few weeks.

    At 24 the few years he might have got in a US pen would have got him a million dollar book and maybe a movie worth lots more.

    We all win when the weak remove themselves from the gene pool.

    RIP Sam Brown but I won’t cry for the likes of you.

    I will pray for your survivors tho.

  4. Anonymous on

    I don’t really think marijuana is the issue here , he was doing some thing illegal to make lots of money fast, if not smuggling it would have been something else , unfortunately he was caught and could not deal with the consequences, what do we know about his inner struggle ? nothing.

  5. jodie on

    — Comment by Marc Emery

  6. jodie on

    When you legalize any commodity between two countries, there is no smuggling. Legalize all commodities between Canada and the US and there would be no smuggling.

    Drug Smuggling = Drug Prohibition
    People Smuggling = Immigration Prohibition
    Gun Smuggling = Firearms prohibition

  7. Anonymous on

    This young man had everthing going for him, Just because he got busted, and this happened?? Well Canada the u.s. law dogs have now taught your mountiey boys what every black or brown or red person knows when in Coustey people in u.s. jails always turn up dead!! Cop killers always if not shot down in the street without a trail, just judged? This may sadly be the first but hes not the last!! welcome to the nut house, canada,wait till they fig. out how to get you like DRIVING WHILE BLACK?? UP THERE? Oh yea just ask a injun how it feels? thell tell ya now there after there own kind now? and yaknow what there right/ just look at this child someone baby killed under the term hanged himself? dont belive ask anybody! from a large city from the states people who are even preists end up hanged in jail in the states EVERY DAY!! So i hope you wake up to this, and DONT!! get used to it? like they are in the states! Stop this tread,and save your children up there! the next one you save, might even be your own? Dont let this ever happen again? How? Get rid of the CROWN, Give our lands and countries back, WE FORGIVE YOU, and you become members of our world, and then, …know peace for the first time in your lifes.

  8. Anonymous on

    People are so against prohibition and ending it, saying how they are all against organized crime..yet this guy was part of organized crime. 200 kilos of marijuana is a lot of money. Thats no small time smuggle. He kills himself and now we feel bad? There is so many other people in life that struggle, and don’t resort to smuggling drugs or selling drugs. This guy had a bright future in biking and he chose to throw it away. So don’t go pointing fucking fingers at someone else. It’s just another fucking excuse saying well “he made me do it” or “well he offered me $$”. If you chose to accept, or take part its your own fault.

  9. Anonymous on

    Why even be on here?
    Obviously it is to get a rise..
    this is your lonely existence and by sure the best means to deal with those like you is ignore but at that same time you give some of a sense of satisfaction seeing you as a sad poor lonely person, who sits alone with no life and gets kicks by shouting loudly the most negative thing that comes out of you but not me.
    Hoping that finally, we will give you the attention you so crave, sad as it can be, I like giving you the attention you need.
    Here’s a pat on the back, I do feel your loneliness my freind.
    And know most of us still love you man, you are not alone even if you feel that way.
    If this is the only way for you to fill that need then by all means, shout what you can and we will still love you and understand, a little boy or girl still in a grown ups body.
    So please shout away..
    it’s ok, we understand, it’s not you’re fault.
    You beleive the lies out their and feed into them and we understand you’re loneliness.
    It takes fortune, luck, intelligence and openness about a person to be able to consume long enough to see the lies out their.
    We love you,
    bless you and your freinds and family.
    We Understand.. 🙂

    I would rather be happy in my existence whatever it may be by putting freinds and family first and filling the void inside then spend a lifetime trying and live a world of competing with the Jones.

    It’s time to bring the Power back to the People!
    The People’s Vote for all new laws, lets remove the corruption!
    They blame us for not voting, they blame us for voting the wrong candidate but the truth is, it’s ALL and illusion and money can corrupt all of them but cannot corrupt ALL OF US!


    Why not?
    why can’t we?
    Then truly we can blame our existence on us becasue we have our control.
    Why can’t we with our technological abilities give every home owner control of voting important things in by the masses.
    Do we really need our hands held?
    Can we not choose some of these things that our congress chooses for us regardless of how the masses feel?

    Just a thought..

  10. David on

    I am from the U.S. I don’t expect everyone to agree. I was just stating my opinion. No I wouldn’t feel bad for a whore who offed herself because she couldn’t take being fucked for money anymore, or was arrested for it. If you do fine. Like I said before those who commit suicide don’t value their own lives. There for I don’t value their life either. I’m not going to waste my time feeling bad for the individual. Instead I’d rather feel bad for their family, and friends who are left wondering why they did it. I don’t agree that marijuana should be illegal like the people in the CBC comments section. Like you I’d rather see it legalized. So that gangs wouldn’t have all that money to buy helicopters to smuggle hard drugs, and guns into either of our countries. Or recruit kids like Sam to do the work while they sit on their ass, and collect the money. Not caring that an arrest could fuck up the youth’s/young adults future when they actually start to look for legal work. I grow marijuana for my own personal use all year round so I know what it’s like to do something illegal. I know all hard drugs are addictive, and only as destructive as you let them be. An that coke when used in low doses is safe. I’ve snorted it multiple times in the past.

  11. Anonymous on

    You, and all the comments on the cbc are so narrow minded it’s amazing you haven’t defected to the U.S.

    Prostitution is illegal, and protitutes commit suicide. By your logic I shouldn’t feel sorry for them because they knew what they were getting into.

    The Marijuana trade ( Thanks to prohibition ) is so lucrative that these guys have fucking helicopters on hand for logistics. If they didn’t have the epic cash from pot these guys would not be able to bring back the COKE and most importantly GUNS back from the U.S because they would not have these logistics in place and have to rely on more risky less rewarding avenues of smuggling.

    If you have ever done something illegal or wrong and gotten a rush from the risk of getting caught you will understand where this guy was coming from. He was an adrenaline junky without a doubt. Imagine the rush of driving a helicopter solo in a snow storm to transport drugs.

    The rush must have been incredible. This guy didn’t smoke or do drugs.

    Furthermore the coke he brought back?

    Coke is only addictive and destructive as YOU let it become. With high purity, small doses is safe THAT IS A FACT.

    In conclusion, David go fuck yourself.

  12. David on

    I have no remorse for him. People who commit suicide don’t value life in the first place so why should we feel bad for him? It’s not like someone else killed him. He killed himself. I never said I don’t feel bad for his family, and friends because I do. But I only feel bad for those who get killed by others for no good reason. Not those who kill themselves because they can’t handle life. If you can’t handle a jail sentence you don’t kill yourself. You deal with the situation you are in. People get locked up for longer sentences every day, and you don’t see all of them killing their selves. How does it not make him a pussy? Boo fucking hoo I got locked up. I’m going to hang myself because I can’t handle this. Why should I feel bad for an idiot like that?

  13. Anonymous on

    I’m ashamed to feaquent the same site as those who would treat the life of another as something so trivial. I’m glad I don’t know any of you.
    Sure, he made mistakes and clearly didn’t think through to what the potential outcome might be, but that doesn’t make the death someone’s friend/son/brother/lover something to “lol” about or make him a pussy.
    You people are fucking disgusting.

  14. Anonymous on

    kind of funny.Take preparation H and brush your teeth with hit. It will help shrink the inflamed tissue you have between the ears you haemorhoidal protozoan

  15. David on

    What a pussy. He couldn’t do 5-40 years in prison? Yeah it would have sucked, but if he kept to himself he would have been fine. If he didn’t want to go to jail the answer is simple. DON’T break the law. Stick to LEGAL jobs. He knew the risk yet did it anyways. Even gang members who live in poverty don’t kill themselves when caught. Atleast I don’t have to waste my tax dollars on this moron. I have no remorse for people who kill themselves. They don’t deserve life in the first place.

  16. Anonymous on

    hit the dust?

    oh, you meant bit the dust. Good thing pot is illegal…if you can’t accomplish a simple task like hitting the b key instead of the h when you’re straight, lord knows you would be completely unable to function if you were high. It would be knind of funny to see though, what with you grabbing the Ben Gay instead of the lotion whilst watching your sister through the keyhole in her bedroom door.

  17. Anonymous on

    good riddance !
    another pothead hit the dust

  18. Anonymous on

    Because this situation a huge issue, especially for a pro-cannabis organization, like CC, to cover the story of someone who, otherwise young, gifted and had a bright future ahead of them, chose to take his own life rather than suffer the prosecution by the US and the consequences thereof.

    Sure, there will still be a black market if Cannabis prohibition were abolished, but it wouldnt have ANYTHING to do with Cannabis. Every drug we legalize is a huge blow to gangs, organized crime, or anybody else who stands to profit from the black market. Cannabis is the keystone in this issue, and once its removed, get ready for the tower to crumble.

    This is yet another needless death in the long history of the ‘War on Drugs’ which might as well be called the ‘War on Poor, Defenseless, otherwise Innocent Civilians.’

  19. Anonymous on

    lol why so remorseful? He knew what he was doing, and the risks involved. With his talent in biking he could have gone somewhere in life, he didn’t have to to turn to smuggling. If the kid never killed himself we wouldn’t even be talking about this right now. I’m sorry but people need to step up and take responsibility for their own actions, instead of blaiming shit on other people. With or without prohibition there is still going to be a black market and smugglers.

  20. Anonymous on

    seen this on tv last night on the fith estate what a sad story
    this is another victim from the war on drugs i feel for the family and friends

  21. Herb on

    FYI –

    Death of a Freerider (Rolling Stone, August 6, 2009)


    Hamster Cage


    Former Nelson Resident Caught Trafficking Dies In Spokane Jail (NDN)


    Marc Emery’s thoughts on the death of local mountain biker Sam Brown, who was jailed in the US earlier this year for allegedly trafficking marijuana. He died in prison:

    And look at Sam Brown, the poor kid had incredible talent and great future, but was obviously lured in. I think prohibition manufactures tragedies like Sam Brown’s because if it wasn’t illegal he would have never been induced to flying helicopters full of marijuana across the border into the clutches of the DEA