In this series of Lift Blogs I am telling the story of the constitutional challenge to grant medical patients access to cannabis derivatives and extracts. I wouldn’t be in this position at all if it wasn’t for Canadian activist Ted Smith. Ted was my boss at the time I was arrested making a variety of edible and topical cannabis products for the members of the V-CBC. Ted founded the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club (VCBC) in the mid-nineties largely in response to the AIDS epidemic at the time.
With a pager and a pamphlet Ted began helping patients from the back of his Van in 1996. Ted also founded the Hempology 101 society in order to raise public awareness about the benefits of hemp and medical cannabis by engaging students and holding regular peaceful protests. It was through Hempology 101 that I met Ted Smith. When he invited me to work for him as the Baker for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club (V-CBC), I was grateful for the opportunity to help the thousands of members that they serve.
Ted has helped bring medical cannabis out of the shadows, repeatedly exposing it to the light of reason before courts of law. In one key ruling Justice Chaperon concluded that ”It is unsettling to contemplate persons with AIDS or who are undergoing cancer treatment being forced to go down to the illegal drug emporium … from persons who are interested only in selling them drugs of unknown quality for a profit. But on January 3, 2002, but for compassion clubs such as Mr. Smith’s, that was their only alternative. “ (source)
When the V-CBC was raided a second time by police, Ted was convicted of trafficking cannabis resin. In his appeal, he laid out many of the arguments now being used in my constitutional challenge. The BC Court of Appeal threw out his charges but at that time he wasn’t able to fully argue the details of his case.When I was arrested in 2009, Ted saw that he had another chance. Kirk Tousaw moved to Vancouver Island in 2010 and after speaking with Ted, keenly accepted the case. Ted connected Kirk with Dr. David Pate who would be our expert witness and quickly found members willing to testify. Kirk and Ted made a powerhouse combination at meetings, firing off details of law that I am still trying to understand.
While I was aware that their would be a risk associated with challenging the law, I was hyper-aware of the pain endured by patients at the V-CBC. With around 3000 active members, I had heard countless stories of how cannabis helped where nothing else could and of the miraculous benefits achieved by their improved quality of life.Ted testified on the stand in my trial in 2012, disclosing details that would later lead the tax man to the V-CBC, forcing Ted to hand the club over to a board of directors and transform it into the non-profit society that it is today. Ted has been busy taking care of his life partner Gayle Quin, but still finds time to continue organizing public events and fight for patients rights to medical cannabis.
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