FREE Issue #38 FALL 2013
ISSUE # 38 FALL 2013
Ted Smith <email@example.com>
Andrew Brown <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Owen Smith <email@example.com>
Sensible BC Underway............................P.03
Dieter MacPherson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Patients Against MMPR.........................P.04
Jim Mooney <email@example.com>
Updates, Warnings, Suggestions..........P.06
Gayle Quin Owen Smith Ron Mullins Ryan Fink
U.S. Pot Policy Changing........................P.09 Marc Emery Home Soon..........................P.10
Steven Faryna Ras Kahleb
Russell Barth and Christine Lowe............P.12
Dilemas of Mainstream Cannabis.........P.14
Cover by Kreg Howes
How to Start a University Club.................P.18
For editorial questions, letters, or information on submitting: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
826 Johnson Street V8W 1N3 Phone: 250-381-4220 www.hempology.ca
Ganja in Jamaica......................................P.20 Wordsearch / Comics..............................P.22
The Cannabis Digest will not be held responsible for claims made within the pages of the newspaper, nor those made by advertisers. We do not suggest or condone illegal activities, and urge readers to research their country’s laws, and/ or talk to their doctors, before engaging in any activities that could be deemed as illegal or dangerous to one’s health.
Colour the Cover Contest!!!! Colour in the cover of this issue—with markers, pencil crayons, paint, crayons, or anything spurred by your imagination—and you could win a prize! 1st prize: a 55/45 Hemp/Cotton printed T-shirt 2nd prize: a special prize pack 3rd prize: a Hempology 101 gift pack Bring your entry to the club, or take a picture and email it to <email@example.com> by Dec. 15th, 2013 Winners will be contacted shortly after—make sure to include some contact information. Entries will be judged on originality, effort, and all around hempiness.
Cannabis Digest • Fall 2013
Sensible BC in Full Gear
Campaign has little time to make big waves By Andrew Brown Canvassers are out in full stride, diligently collecting signatures to force the B.C. government into a referendum to pass the Sensible Policing Act. Since Sept. 9, the first day official signature collection began, over 100 local organizers and over 3000 volunteers have now stepped up to help collect signatures from ten percent of voters in each riding. The campaign has 90 days to pull off the initiative, meaning Dec. 5 is the final day to get signatures in. Have you signed yet? While canvassers have been met with the odd heckler or Anslinger/Reaganesque propaganda-spewing stalemate, the support from the general public has been overwhelming—people want to sign, but we need to reach them. People from all walks of life have signed, including police officers, MLAs, and Members of Parliament. Why should you sign? The war on drugs has been a failure. The federal Conservative government will not shift from their ideological stance, so as a province the best measure that can realistically be achieved is to pass the Sensible Policing Act. Sensible BC is “calling upon the B.C. government to pass the Sensible Policing Act, which will redirect all police in the province from making searches, seizures or arrests in cases of simple cannabis possession,” as they state on their website <SensibleBC.ca> The Sensible Policing Act calls for the setup of “a public commission to figure out the best path toward a legally regulated and taxed cannabis system in B.C.” It will also allow for police to deal with impaired driving and youth possession in a way similar to the way they treat alcohol offences. It has been about a year since Dana Larsen and his crew began tirelessly working to make voters aware of the upcoming campaign, through a tour of communities across the province, media attention, social media, and public events, among seemingly endless other ways. A pre-registration form was created to help locate people wanting to sign and find volunteers. While this strategy was effective in many ways, during the official
collection of signatures some people are unsure if they have signed the actual petition or the pre-registration, leading to some confusion. It is important that people not sign twice, as their signature will not count, so canvassers need to do their best to help signers determine whether they signed before Sept. 9 when the official collection began. The “Canna-Bus,” the campaign’s bus, is currently on the road, traveling throughout the province and bringing
TransLink staff and the RCMP twice since that statement was made. Sensible BC does provide canvassers with a handout to show individuals trying to force them out of a public location, clearly stating and referencing the law allowing signature collection. In 1991, The Supreme Court of Canada also confirmed the right to solicit signatures in any public place when finding that Section 2 of the Charter was infringed when political speech was restricted at an airport.
Sensible BC organizer Steve LeSage and canvasser Glynis Eve collecting signatures at VIU in Duncan
more attention to the initiative. This fullsize bus is decked out in campaign colours and is essentially a mobile billboard. Look for it in your town or city and show your support, or better yet, sign. Recently, some canvassers in Burnaby, Richmond, and Surrey were tossed out of SkyTrain stations. Collecting signatures for a provincial ballot initiative in a public space is an activity protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. On Sept. 27, a formal complaint was filed with TransLink regarding the harassment by transit police, and the TransLink spokesperson assured that canvassers would not be blocked in any way from petitioning or collecting signatures. Despite this, two canvassers, Bruce Myers and Pierre Groulx, were pressured to leave the Surrey SkyTrain station by
Cowichan organizer Steve LeSage has also had some difficulty exercising his lawful rights by not being allowed to collect signatures at the Duncan Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. While this is a setback, it has not deterred him from spending every day holding the clipboard all throughout the Duncan area. LeSage says the experience of being an organizer has been exhausting but rewarding, with the connections he has made and the number of people he has met. He is also quick to point out the achievements of other activists and canvassers, such as Barb Kohlman, who stepped up last minute as an organizer to fill in the gap in Nanaimo-N. Cowichan; and Amanda Orum, the Nanaimo organizer who was able to get the signatures of MLAs and MPs and the support of NDP leader Thomas Mulcaire. An interesting personal encounter I had recently was with a fellow on his way to an environmental film festival, who stopped by to sign. He said that he firmly opposed the smoking of cannabis, but was signing because there are far more
pressing issues to address (gesturing toward the film festival) and he was tired of watching so many resources being funneled toward fighting against cannabis while humanity is at risk due to pollution and climate change. The public is clearly tired of the war on drugs. It is common to find people wanting to sign but uneasy about signing an official form that may put them on a list. We are participating in real democracy to make change, and it says a lot about the so-called democratic society in Canada if people are afraid to put their name on a petition to make a change that they support. With the recent exposure of the true scope of government spying and data collection, it is safe to assume that if you are afraid to be on a list, there is a good chance you are already on a list. The government is elected to enact the will of the people, and it is important we hold them to that. With the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes by the Conservative government, and changes to the system to access medical cannabis, we could see many legitimate medical cannabis users, facing harsh penalties due to access or affordability issues forcing them to break laws. With the ethical issue of criminalizing recreational use of a substance with a fraction of the potential health risks of alcohol, and the continually increasing cost of enforcing cannabis laws, the Sensible Policing Act would be a welcome change. Last year, a financial burden of $10.5 million was placed on B.C. taxpayers to simply detain, charge, and convict cannabis users. This figure does not include court and police costs of pursuing dealers and growers. Since 2005, the cost has doubled, and is sure to increase as the true cost of mandatory minimum sentencing begins to be felt. All of this in spite of public opinion, according to all recent polls, clearly wanting an end to marijuana prohibition. We have 90 days to collect 400 thousand signatures, with Dec. 5 being the final day. While decriminalization isn’t the best option, on a provincial level it is the best we can do. The campaign needs your support. Whether you can donate time or a little bit of money, it is all appreciated. For more info, or contacts for local organizers, visit <SensibleBC.ca>
Issue Number 38
Medical Marijuana Patient Revolt Corporations prepared to profit at patients’ expense
By Ted Smith Dramatic changes to the Canadian medical cannabis scene are on the horizon. Patients are about to collectively suffer when the new Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations replace the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations. Commercial producers are eager to attract venture capitalists to make a lot of money in the future medical cannabis industry and beyond. Sitting in the middle, compassion clubs appear more vulnerable and yet more necessary than ever. Apr. 1 is the day the MMAR is over and the MMPR takes full control. It is the day corporations rip this plant from patients. For that reason, Apr. 1 is a good day to go to Ottawa and protest. It seems the only hope for patients to actually retain their permits to grow will be the injunction being filed by veteran lawyer John Conroy. He and other lawyers are representing the MMAR Coalition Against Repeal, a group of patients and caregivers across the country who are trying to raise the funds to support this expensive legal action. Donations have been dismal, especially given how many patients currently use the program, with just over $30 thousand raised so far. However, a recent push has secured several large donations from a few organizations, and a large benefit concert is planned for Nov. 13 in Vancouver. With the total costs expected to reach over $250 thousand as this case is likely to go to the Supreme Court of Canada, the group has its work cut out for it both in and out of court.
This injunction should force the federal government to continue to issue personal licenses to grow. The first stage of this legal fight should be over by Apr. 1. By that time, we should know whether there will be a temporary reinstatement of the MMAR until the higher courts resolve the matter, or the first attempt to keep the MMAR alive failed and the coalition is the side appealing. No matter how that court battle goes, no doubt we are dealing with a hostile federal government that will fight back every step of the way. That has been the case with the Owen Smith trial, where last year BC Supreme Court Justice Johnson ruled the MMAR was unconstitutional for not allowing patients and their caregivers to make cannabis extracts. That ruling has been appealed and will be heard on Dec. 6. However, Health Canada did not acknowledge this case even existed when it cited relevant court cases in the supporting documents that came with the MMPR. Owen was arrested in 2009 while making food and skin products for the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada, now called the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club. Charges of possession of cannabis and possession of THC were eventually dropped by the Crown after the judge made his ruling. Unfortunately, Health Canada seems to have done nothing to consider implementing the judgment in the new programs, except for issuing statements suggesting patients can do whatever they want with the herb when they get it home. This statement does not
remove the real legal risk that patients face when making hash, tea, or butter, nor does it help those patients unable to continue making their own products. Apparently even the province of B.C. is worried about this gap in the program and the prices patients will pay under the new system. According to the Georgia Straight, in an “issue note” to the federal government written in May, the BC Ministry of Health expressed concerns about the MMPR only selling raw herb, dramatic increases in prices, and the original plans of allowing doctors to distribute cannabis from their offices. The plans to allow doctors to distribute were not included in the final regulations released in the summer. Commercial producers appear ready to provide extracts, as they are already frothing at the mouth thinking of the money to be made in the new system. Several have indicated they intend to supply cannabis extracts in the future, though the only realistic chance of that happening soon seems to be if our court case wins. Canada is the only country in the world that allows the use of cannabis for medical purposes but does not allow the use of extracts. As of press time, the only company to have obtained licenses to sell under the MMPR is Prairie Plant Systems, the same company that has had a complete monopoly on medical cannabis in Canada for years. In a clever plan to discard the company’s image after years of providing a poor product, which Health Canada forced them to do in the contract, PPS has formed a new company, CanniMed Ltd. It appears Health Canada has worked with this company, giving them these licenses well before any of the competition have a chance to establish themselves. To the best of my knowledge, 156 firms have applied for commercial licenses so far. Whether those applications are complete is still to be determined, as there is a long list of requirements to be met. Many companies are investing well over one million dollars in setting up their business model. While some have claimed they will bring prices down eventually, many companies are looking to sell the cannabis at prices as high as $12 per gram, plus shipping. Since these prices are beyond the ability of most patients to pay, the immediate effect will be a dramatic reduction in cannabis use by patients who had been growing enough to supply all of their needs. This severe change will seriously harm the ability of many to function, forcing them back to medications that often were not as effective and have harmful side effects, simply because these other medications are paid for by insurance companies and government plans. Provincial health care costs will certainly increase, as patients will have more hospital visits, more costs and complications from increased prescription drug side effects, and premature deaths. If cannabis received a Drug Identification Number, it could be covered in insurance plans and by health care, but that seems unlikely any time soon. No plant has ever achieved a D.I.N., for the simple reason that the rules were written to identify and sell chemicals, and the variability in all plant species makes it virtually impossible for any to get through all of the requirements for consistency. No
company is currently even trying to get a D.I.N., because the costs of doing the research are astronomical, and a company can only patent one strain or one specific combination of cannabinoids and terpenes. With patients certain to suffer if the MMPR is brought into effect without allowing personal plant cultivation, many feel the urge to travel to Ottawa on Apr. 1 and express their discontent. Already people from all over the country are pledging to attend this one opportunity to collectively show this government and the people of this country that this is wrong. Hopefully this rally will help further convince the opposition parties of the absolutely ridiculous nature of the war on drugs, as almost everyone attending is likely to become a criminal once again for using this simple plant as medicine. Many patients will continue using and growing cannabis despite losing the legal protection to do so. It is just a matter of time before some of these folks start getting arrested, especially those with a Designated Grower license that the police have been made aware of because of robberies, complaints, or other incidents. Apparently, Health Canada cannot release the information they have about the locations of licenses to grow, but we will see if that is how things work out. Meanwhile, dispensaries have never been part of the old program and also seem to be excluded from the new one. However, with the market opening up to allow commercial producers to compete and the access problem possibly being fixed, some compassion clubs are considering packing up and going home before getting busted. Others are looking at possible methods of merging into the new program by turning the society into a mail order/delivery business, where the group could have a mailbox business next door or have a bike courier show up at your door quickly. Since many clubs have relied upon DGs for medicine, it is attractive to them to adapt into the new system. Others prefer working as legally as possible. However, it seems most compassion clubs are going to ride this out and see what happens. Clubs are not likely going to become targets overnight because the MMPR are in effect. There are many reasons why medical dispensaries will be very important, at least in the initial stages of the new program. If the new program is accessible to patients because more doctors sign the new forms, if the costs are brought down considerably and if extracts are made available, then clubs would no longer be able to justify continuing to operate. Those are some big if ’s. As for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, we will hold present course. With the trial of Owen Smith coming up in Dec., a decision is not expected until much later than Apr. 1. That decision will hopefully secure our position here in Victoria, forcing the federal government to consider including extracts in the MMPR and store-front dispensaries. Until that time, dispensaries like the VCBC have at least one good reason for keeping their doors open.
Cannabis Digest • Fall 2013
Democracy is not perfect, but it works. It works when people in large numbers organize to affect change in our social infrastructure. Historically, cannabis consumers have suffered under democracy, especially those of us living in countries ruled by political parties controlled by corporate military families. But it does not have to stay that way. Now it is time for history to write a new chapter about democracy. A chapter about freedom, peace and happiness. A chapter written by cannabis enthusiasts. A chapter about our revival. Many of us have been frustrated with democracy, partly because it is responsible for this mess in the first place, and partly because governments are still being used to suppress us around the world. While it
is true that corporate and religious zealots have directly used governments against us, we can turn things around using many of the very same institutions that have traditionally kept us down. For those who have studied the history of government, the prohibition of cannabis is an understandable mistake, tragic as it is. Democracy was formed primarily by rich guilds and families to protect their property and business from high taxes, asset seizures, and irrational policies often created by monarchs and religious leaders. Early government was formed by wealthy, intelligent people who presumed that by ensuring their own economic interests, they were also benefiting the greater good with a more stable marketplace. Back in the early days of democratic government, the average person could not even read, and depended upon information shared in conversation. Various measures were put into place to limit who could even vote, let alone who could run for office. Many families and guilds made fortunes by developing a close relationship with elected politicians and bureaucrats, and they made sure their competition was limited. Under these conditions, the prohibition of cannabis was easy. One hundred years ago the general population was still quite in the dark about most government policies, and at best could occasionally choose between one upper-class politician or another. At the time the media was little more than a mouthpiece for big business,
5 Democratic Evolution
and Reefer Madness proved a successful campaign. Some things in government have changed a lot in the last 100 years, while some things have not changed at all. Now, the general population knows cannabis is incredible medicine, we know hemp can be used in most products, that it is healthier for us and the planet than most industrial alternatives, and it is clear why this plant was taken away from us. It seems clear the average person is ready for these laws to change, and it is the government that is holding us back. In many way, democracy is like a muscle. If only used during elections, democracy is weak and impotent, leaving the making of laws, taxation, and government expenditures to the wealthy. Use it or lose it. Democracy is much, much more than the opportunity to vote. For many, it simply means the right to speak out without being shot or imprisoned. For others, democracy means we have the right to question our leadership, engage in public debate regarding a broad range of community issues, and become involved in the internal political processes of picking candidates, while exposing government corruption and exploitation. The more people that engage with democratic processes with the intent of generating public benefits, the easier it will be to enact positive change. If citizens decide to walk away from their civic responsibilities and not even register to vote, then it becomes even easier for the
EDITORIAL: Break the System
Andrew Brown Editor
There is a lot happening in the world right now—life altering for all organisms on the planet type things happening—and here we are still fighting for the basic freedom to use and/or grow a plant. I feel like the people holding all the political power have just been so
soaked with corporate and capitalistic influence that they have numbed into a bunch of greedy yahoos unable to empathize with humanity, and come across like the oil-tycoon wearing the cowboy hat in the Simpsons. Most voters keep hoping that a new leader will emerge and make change for the betterment of humanity (think back when Obama was first elected), but the reality is that the type of people who seek positions of power are a different cut of meat from the social bovine. Our system attracts the people we get to choose from to lead our country, and perhaps it’s a different system we need to attract a different breed of animal. Think of any volunteer work you have done. People volunteer because they are passionate about something and want to
make a difference and help. Imagine if that was why people entered politics— though likely many do, but it seems many fall victim to persuasive corporate whispers and back rubs. History is repeating itself, but rather than the Catholic Church being intertwined with the State, it is big business, and it needs to be cut free of the State. Perhaps Stephen Harper should implement crime bills with mandatory minimum sentences that target politicians who abuse their position for personal gain—with aggravating factors. I mentioned in the Sensible BC article I wrote for this issue that I met a man who signed the petition while saying he is dead set against smoking cannabis, but is signing because we have bigger things to worry about right now. He is right. I’m
wealthy to consolidate their power. You are either part of the solution, or part of the problem. The Sensible BC campaign is a perfect example of how democracy can work, and how young the democratic process is here in Canada. We are very fortunate to have the ability to force a referendum upon our government, as the successful anti-HST campaign proved. However, it will only work if people participate in the democratic process. With the Sensible BC campaign, cannabis consumers and anti-prohibitionists have a very real chance to set the laws in the right direction, not only in BC but across the country. This is significant, given the turning of the tide that is occurring down in the United States and far beyond. It is ironic that we are learning to mimic initiatives that first appeared in the U.S. decades ago, but Canada could never change its laws without a similar movement happening there. There are certainly other activities one can do that exercise democratic rights, including becoming involved in a political party. It does not matter what party you get involved with. As long as you are working towards improving society and making government agencies accountable, then you are fighting the good fight. We need your help. The planet needs your help. Your community needs your help. If you turn your back on us, please do not bother complaining to me.
tired of talking about it and would rather focus my energy on other issues, the majority of the general public is tired of the issue and would like to see cannabis legalized, but we are stuck with governments too intertwined with big business to make change. We need Sensible BC to succeed so that the public can have a renewed vigour and believe that the will of the people will be the law of the land, and spark the public voice on other initiatives. I get ill thinking about how desensitized society has become to allow the rule of madness and the disease of greed to infect rationality.
Issue Number 38
Updates, Warnings, and Suggestions
By Gayle Quin It was a bright and sunny day when I left off last time. It was smooth sailing to Vancouver, and fairly smooth sailing throughout the weekend. My most humble thanks to Sandra and Remo for putting together the 1st Vancouver Health Expo. It was a weekend combined with Mark Klokeid’s 2nd Kush cup. The Health Expo was an inspirational event. Alternative health care practitioners and cannabis crusaders shared a weekend full of fun and knowledge. There are an amazing variety of alternative treatments available today. I even tried a Cryogenic Chamber that flash freezes you to re-boot your immune system—it was definitely a unique experience, and quite invigorating. You can see photos of the weekend on Hempology 101’s web page. We only made it out to one of the Kush Cup
events, which was a wonderful evening of comedy. It was great to see friends we made at the Toronto Treating Yourself Expo make it out to this event. During the summer we ventured to Birken, in the Pemberton Valley, for the Great Canadian Glass Gathering. I would like to thank Patrick Red Beard for organizing the event, Mike for hosting us in a wondrous wooded wonderland, and all those who cooked, blew glass, entertained, and helped clean up afterwards. It was the most spectacular event imaginable. Glass blowers shared tips and techniques with each other, and answered dumb bunny questions of mine with glowing smiles. If you wanted to actually purchase something, you had to start by trying to figure out who made what. There were DJ’s and a fire spinning dancing girl to entertain us; fresh cooked meals, as well as an open BBQ to feed us; and all the amazing eye candy, smokeable art pieces you could ever imagine. We camped beside a spring fed stream where we got our water—it was spectacular. I can’t wait until next year. Hempology 101’s 18th Anniversary March was a lot of fun, so I will apologize now for the exuberance during filming. I always end up having too much fun and forget not to yell. Tourists were very supportive and it was a very festive occasion. The security guards at the Leg. were happy to see us and honoured us with a joke. How can anyone’s life get any better? During our last VCBC Membership meeting, it came to our attention that
HEMPOLOGY 101 CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Feb. 16 University of Alberta Convention Mar. 9 UVic Convention Mar. 17 Int. Medical Marijuana Day Mar.23 UBC Convention Apr. 20 4/20 at Centenial Sq. Halloweed Oct. 31 7 pm Court House Dec. 21 Cannabis Caroling Ministry of Health 4:20 pm 2014
Apr. 23-July 2 Reach for the Pot Beacon Hill Park 7 pm July 1 Cannabis Day July 9 Cannabis Contests
Feb.6 Medicine Hat College Convention
Hempology Board Meetings are the first Tuesday of every month at 7:30 pm
Feb. 13 University of Calgary Convention
www.hempology.ca for more info
70 percent of our new membership has been due to direct recommendations for the use of cannabis. Many state the patient should be using our products by name, or CBD generally. Thank you everyone for helping to educate the medical community. If you haven’t been to the club in a while, you are in for a real treat when you do come. We have expanded our selection of capsules. Don’t worry, you can still get Ryanol and Stalkanol, but now you can also choose from: Mixed (regular) Cannoil, Non-Decarboxylized Cannoil, Indica Cannoil, Sativa Cannoil, CBD Cannoil, Indica Hash and Sativa Hash Capsules. We only use vegetable capsules. Now I’ll go through them one by one for you. Ryanol are made from the leaf. It is high in terpenes that have sedative qualities, so it is a good smooth muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant, and antispasmodic. Stalkanol is the small bud stalks infused into olive oil and are very relaxing without putting you to sleep. Mixed cannoil is our regular cannoil capsulated. It has both Indica and Sativa properties. Non-Decarboxalized cannoil may have greater and more rapid anti-inflammatory, analgesic activity, with less psychoactive effects than Mixed Cannoil due to having the inactive THC acids. It is during the decarboxylation process that THC acids become active. Indica Cannoil is relaxing, sedative, helps sleep, is anti-inflammatory, and reduces intraocular pressure, anxiety,
pain, nausea, tremor, seizures, and is also anticonvulsant—just to name a few. Sativa Cannoil is generally uplifting and energizing, a strong analgesic able to relieve migraines and nausea. It can be an antidepressant, stimulate appetite and the immune system, as well as being anticonvulsant and antitumoral. Sativas may exacerbate anxiety, as well as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, and are best avoided if one is predisposed to any such disorders or has heart disease of any type. CBD Cannoil is the least psychoactive of our products. It has also been found to have immune modulating effects, can lower intraocular pressure, is an antiepileptic, antidystonic, as well as being antibacterial, antiviral, and having neuroprotective properties. It reduces the stoned effect of THC and is proving to be useful in psychiatry due to its anxiolytic antipsychotic properties. Our strongest products are the Indica Hash and Sativa Hash capsules. They are hash dissolved in hemp seed oil, extremely potent and should only be used by experienced edible cannabis consumers. Our livers convert active ingredients to 11-hydroxy-THC a metabolite that becomes four to five times more psychoactive than regular THC. Also, when you eat cannabis, none is lost in combustion so you get your whole dose.
Cannabis Digest • Fall 2013
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Issue Number 38
Cannabis Digest • Fall 2013
U.S. Closer to Federal Marijuana Policy
State initiatives forcing a change at the top By Ron Mullins Aug. 28, 2013: is it an historically triumphant day for marijuana activists in the U.S., or just more political smoke screen? That’s what many in the cannabis community are trying to figure out. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, in the conference call with the governors of Washington and Colorado, (both states where marijuana has been legalized for personal recreational use) stated there would be a shift in federal policy. He stated the Department of Justice has no intention of going after the states that legalize marijuana, and will back off and take a “trust but verify” stance. Holder then had his deputy, James Cole, issue a memo that specifically laid out what the federal government still would prosecute in states where cannabis is legal for recreational and/or medical use. The points being (1) non-diversion to minors; (2) Prevention of funding to gangs; (3) prevention of sales to other states; (4) no sales of other drugs; (5) prevention of gun use and violence in marijuana growing; (6) prevention of drugged driving; (7) no cultivation on public lands; (8) no use of marijuana on federal property. It wasn’t very different from the memo issued in 2009 by then Deputy Attorney General David Ogden. The Ogden Memo covered five of these points already, but was later trumped by the Haag Memo that unleashed what is commonly referred now to as “The Crack Down,” in which hundreds of dispensaries were closed by forfeiture threats and litigation against their landlords. All of this was accompanied by aggressive raids, including the “soul” of medical marijuana in California, Oaksterdam University. The Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California is a place where the cannabis community can learn about medical applications, the law governing growing, and other certificated programs which teach students, the medical effect of different strains of can-
nabis, among other things. Other threats include IRS attacks claiming there are no viable write-offs when selling federally illegal substances, threats against banks causing them to close accounts of cannabis dispensaries, and most recently a DEA “warning” to armored car services not to contract with marijuana companies. So it’s understandable that some may be skeptical that this memo will make any real difference. And why did Holder do it? Possibly because of a hearing pending 13 days later, where he was to be questioned by a Senate judiciary committee about the wasting of resources on attacking medical marijuana. Meanwhile, the very recipients of the memo, the federal prosecutors, for the most part seem to think the memo will change little in the cases they are and will be prosecuting. Melinda Haag, federal prosecutor of California to the East Bay Express said: “The office is evaluating the new guidelines, and for the most part, it appears that the cases that have been brought in this district are already in compliance with the guidelines. Therefore, we do not expect a significant change.” Amanda Marshall, federal prosecutor for Oregon, to The Oregonian: “We looked at this and the conclusion was this doesn’t really change anything for us. We would still be prosecuting these same cases as we have done in the past and the same cases we have open right now.” Mike Cotter, federal prosecutor for Montana to KGVO Radio: “I don’t believe that it would have changed the manner in which we did our business over the last two or three years with respect to the marijuana prosecutions. I think that it would have changed nothing with respect to those prosecutions or ultimate sentences.” John Walsh, federal prosecutor for Colorado to the Colorado Springs Independent: “We are continuing to prosecute large-scale drug traffickers,
consistent with the Ogden and Cole memos. And so, inasmuch as that is consistent with what we’ve been doing in the past, I think there’s not going to be a substantial change.” In summary, from the perspective of the federal prosecutors nothing has changed, but what about the new language not seen before, that is the direct opposite of what the prosecutors were stating? So what about the landlord letters? Unknown. Any change in banking? Rep. Ed Perlmutter D-CO, called for a hearing on his proposed bill, Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act (HR 2652), stating “public safety, crime, and lost tax revenue associated when these legal and regulated businesses are operating in a cash-only system.” So we have a “wait and see” on that. In hearings held by Democratic Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Leahy made some important statements on the record, unlike anything we’ve heard before. He expressed concern about the banking industry being willing to provide services to state-authorized marijuana dispensaries, for fear of money laundering, forcing dispensaries to operate as cash-only businesses with no access to banks or credit cards. “That’s a prescription for problems—tax evasion, and so on,” Leahy said. The DEA, in what seems to be a significant step away from reality, has instructed armored car companies to cease providing services to marijuana dispensaries, almost as if they’re saying “Yeah, let’s get out there this week and have some robberies.” Whether it’s DEA or anything else, bureaucracy trumps reality. It creates a problem. So, what’s the Department going to do to address these concerns with the guidance it is giving states about these banking and tax issues? Deputy U.S. Attorney Cole agreed that banking is an issue we should deal with. He outlined the public safety concern with regard to cash “lying around”: “We
are talking with bank regulators to discuss ways that this could be dealt with in accordance with the laws we have on the books now,” he said. He went on to explain the DEA merely questioned armed car companies and claimed to have not given out warnings as reported. While this is nothing solid, it’s more than we had before, and the Ogden Memo never had its own hearing. The rest of the hearing was the standard fare of “what about the children” and other boogeyman tactics. There was, however, refreshing testimony from John Urquhart, Sheriff of King County, Washington, the 14thlargest county by population in the U.S. He proudly described himself as “The top law enforcement official in the largest jurisdiction in the country that has legalized marijuana.” He went on to state “I’ve spent almost 12 years as a narcotics detective, and my experience shows that the war on drugs has been a failure. We have not significantly reduced demand over time, yet we have incarcerated generations—the highest incarceration rate in the world.” He did what he could to get the committee to understand the difference between the myths of marijuana and the reality. Meanwhile, from here on the ground it’s all the same: apparent busts with secret NSA surveillance tip-offs. Patients, doctors, business people and farmers are having their lives turned upside-down for their choice of medicine. But there is hope, as my friend and colleague Micky Martin, author of “Medical Marijuana 101” has said: “The walls of prohibition are crumbling in America and the world. It is the great awakening, and not a moment too soon. There is still a lot of work to do but I am more hopeful that cannabis will be legal for adults to use as they please sooner than later.” I have to believe: Cvil rights are won by a million small victories, and that this can be counted as one of them.
Issue Number 38
Marc Emery Coming Home Soon Many excited for return of cannabis powerhouse
By Ryan Fink It has been three years since Marc Emery arrived in the U.S. to begin serving a fiveyear sentence in maximum security prison. We are all aware that he was convicted of selling seeds, and that this is what, under U.S. federal law, warranted his harsh punishment. But according to documents released by the DEA, their main concern in prosecuting Marc was not stemming his seed sales: They wanted to put an end to his activism. They were frightened more of the social implications of Marc’s work than they were of the seeds he was sending south of the border. But you can’t put someone in jail for speaking out. The DEA document goes into some detail about all Marc’s “organizations (including CC) [contributing] over $2 million toward court battles, ballot initiatives, jailed individuals, rallies, conferences, marches and elections—all involving cannabis or the drug war” continuing, “There is virtually no drug reform group or organization in North America that has not received some assistance from [Marc’s organizations].” The document’s opening statement smugly concludes that “Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.” What we have here is a classic Darth Vader/Obi-Wan Kenobi situation. While Marc has been banished to another world, the work he did that frightened the evil empire into sending him away has blossomed in ways that have surely caused more than a few facepalms at the DEA HQ. This is not to say that the movement has benefited from Marc’s incarceration— he is not a martyr—but he was blessed to be surrounded by some truly incredible people who have not missed a step during his unfortunate absence. Jody Emery moved from the Kootenay Mountains to Vancouver in 2004 to contribute her talent and energy to the bustling scene at Cannabis Culture HQ. She co-edited CC magazine with Marc from 2005 until it went online-only in 2009, and she manages the publication to this day. In fact, she manages everything at Cannabis Culture, overseeing 20 employees. What’s more, she is a natural spokeswoman, and has put more than a few news pundits in their place on national television. Her strength as a media personality quickly became clear to the political community, and in 2009, the BC Green Party approached her about representing them in Vancouver-Fraserview for the provin-
cial election, where she received nearly five percent of the vote. She will be representing them again in the upcoming 2014 provincial election. A force to be reckoned with, she is as at home in the world of provincial politics as she is in the world of pot politics. And then there’s “superhero activist”
accomplished in jailing Marc Emery has been nullified by the accomplishments of these two, as their presence has grown to fill the void left by the near-total absence of the Prince these past few years. I say near-total because, though he manages to get a prison blog published on <cannabisculture.com> about once a
Dana Larsen, who worked with Marc as editor of CC magazine from 1994-2004. You’re familiar with Dana’s Sensible BC campaign (there has been and will continue to be much about this in Cannabis Digest). Dana’s also an accomplished entrepreneur who has opened or helped to open three medical cannabis dispensaries throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, as well as co-founding the Vancouver Seed Bank. Like Jody, Dana balances media presence and business savvy with political promise. Dana was a founding member of both the BC Marijuana Party and the Marijuana Party of Canada, and in 2008 represented the federal NDP for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast— Sea—to—Sky Country. Then in 2011 he made a solid bid for leadership of the provincial NDP. Jody and Dana both represent the triple threat of personality, business acumen, and political influence. Whatever has been
month, his efforts to stay in touch with the CC community have twice resulted in his being placed into solitary confinement. The first time was over a recording that was made of him talking from a phone in 2010 that Jody played on <Pot.tv> He got 21 days in solitary over what officials called a “misunderstanding” of the rules surrounding his phone privileges, where it was never shown that any rule had actually been violated. The second time was just this summer, when he and his prison bandmates got into trouble over a photo of the band that appeared on <cannabisculture.com> You can read more about these events on Marc’s prison blog. It is clear in both cases that no rules were broken, so it seems that someone higher up has a problem with Marc’s continued presence in the media, which is just what is indicated by the DEA document I cited earlier. And rightly so. Imagine what will be possible when Marc is finally free and back
in Vancouver, working side by side with colleagues who have grown and prospered in the time he has been away. Because of the efforts of people like Jody and Dana, Marc’s return will be to a world that is more ready to receive his message than the world he was exiled from in 2010. Marc goes into some detail in a recent blog post about when he is likely to be released from prison. He writes that he should be released between May and Oct. of next year. It depends on when he is transferred back to the Canadian penal system. The U.S. has already approved the transfer, but at the time of writing, the application is still awaiting revue by the Canadian Minister of Justice, with an Oct. sixth deadline (There is an ongoing campaign to petition the ministry to approve the transfer ASAP; you can find out more about this as it develops at <www.freemarc.ca>). A recent article in The Province speculates that the Conservatives might be stalling here precisely because they are terrified of what it will mean to have this powerhouse of sensibility back home, what with the successes of recent anti-prohibition initiatives, despite his being made an example of. But at the moment it seems like stalling is all they can do. Marc will be free and back making waves with his family and friends sometime next year. Marc has been a pillar of the cannabis community for over two decades. He has been to jail at least 16 times through this career. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory. But what he is going through now, and what he will have to go through yet to get home, can’t be taken lightly. Next year, when he’s out and working his magic across the street from Victory Square in Vancouver, take care not to forget what he’s been through—four years of various grades of hell, from lockdowns to solitary confinement. And of course being away from the people he loves. And remember too that Jody took every chance she got to fly down to Mississippi for rare visits when they were allowed, travelling for days to spend a few short hours chatting. In light of the inevitability of legalization, in light of all the progress that has been made since Marc was taken away, his incarceration becomes an ironic symbol of the true cost of a prohibition that is well on its way out of popular fashion—a symbol that stands for the countless lives that have been needlessly damaged or ruined because of a pointless drug war.
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Issue Number 38
Ottawa’s Pied Pipers of Pot Russell Barth & Christine Lowe fighting for the right to medicate
By Al Graham When I first got involved with the cannabis community, I often saw the same name attached to published letters appearing in newspapers. They were always educational and spoke with truth, unlike what some politicians were saying about cannabis. I then found out that one of my friends was attending the author’s wedding. From there, things grew. I was seeing his name more and more often. People were talking about him, but other than knowing that he wrote a lot of letters to several newspapers all across North America, I didn’t know much about him. When I contacted Russell for our interview, he informed me that Christine and him had just visited Liberal MP Dr. Carolyn Bennett. He says he enjoyed the meeting, the obvious topic being cannabis. When it came to the legalization of it, he told her, “if we regulated cannabis like alcohol and tobacco, we’d have the same problems that we have with teens abusing it like alcohol and tobacco. But if we regulate it like coffee and soft drinks, for 16 and over, then parents, health care workers, and doctors could teach them how to use it properly, like we do with soft drinks, food, sex, and piercings.” Russell was asked by an aid in the room “how to bring that to the public.” His response was, “science.” If we rely on science to prove other things, why not cannabis? The pair talked with MP Bennett about the MMARMMPR situation. While he has been happy with his designated grower, (DG) he says he would prefer “to have the government pay for it like other medications” in order to prevent the hassles that come with a DG. He wonders why “the government doesn’t remove it from the CDSA and give it a DIN number like other drugs.” He goes on to say, “that way, patients should get it like other drugs, whether it’s heart medication or anything else, and once companies realize that their profits are going up, because patients are not needing other health care items, then they are going to realize that this is a lot better.” Medical Use Russell uses cannabis medically for PTSD and fibromyalgia, which he described as a condition that people and doctors don’t understand. While most people get one doctor to diagnose their condition, he tells me he has been “diagnosed by seven of them.” Russell also used cannabis recreationally as a youth, but he says, “growing up in the suburbs near Montreal I had a much easier access to getting hashish.” As time went on he consumed it on and off as a teenager, but then found it relieved pain for a hyperextended neck he had received after a car crash at the age of 19. They told him he’d have some trouble, but instead he got “pain, tingling, spasms, weakness.” Years later, his back pain was was connected to his earlier car crash. He
touched on his use of painkillers and the negative effects he was getting from them, and how one of his legs is a halfinch longer than the other. This has put his spine out of place, and his body has been compensating for it all his life. By the time he was 25, he was dealing with back spasms “that felt like arrows sticking in my back, along with spasms
So as soon as you stop taking it you start to cough, and with no phlegm you go into a rough raspy cough.” He said that this led to uncontrollable reactions as “I shit myself and snot was coming out of my face. This would take days and it was a nightmare, and once I was past that, I still had to deal with all my pain.” In 2002, Russell visited a sleep doctor
in my neck.” He goes on and says, “in ‘96 to ‘97 I was taking a handful of pills and I was mixing my prescriptions for the pain, including Robaxacet, which recommends no more than eight tablets in a day and for no more than three days in a row unless consulted on it by a physician. Well, I was doing anywhere from 17 to 22 tablets a day for weeks at a time.” A year later things started to change, as he met someone very special to him. “In ‘98 I met Christine, and I was yellow with jaundice and over 230 pounds.” Like many other people, Russel was without a doctor. When I asked him what he did, he told me that “my current doctor took me in. The autumn of 1999, I just wandered into the office and asked for help. I was such a mess, they took me right away.” After some discussion, the doctor determined that Russel should have been dead by then because of him taking so many pills. He asked her for help, and she gave him two options: “quit cold turkey or do it over a two-week period.” When he asked which one she recommended, the doctor told him, “cold turkey usually leaves a lasting impression.” He did as the doctor recommended and quit right then. He tells me he had to go back two more times, and none of it sounded much fun as he described his experience. “The first thing that happens is that the pain slowly creeps back in, then you start to cough, as codeine is a cough suppressant.
because of his excessive snoring and because Christine noticed that he stopped breathing in his sleep. To find out what was wrong, Russell had to do a sleep test, but with him being Christine’s full-time caregiver, he insisted that she spend the night with him. After a while, the place finally agreed and prepared a bed for her to sleep on. During the test they noticed that Russell didn’t sleep. They described him as being “blacked out,” and that his readings “were among the worst printouts that they had ever seen.” This at the age of 32. They proposed medications and a machine for him to use while he slept. Meanwhile, Christine was doing some research online for Russell’s condition. In July of that year she told him to “stop consuming dairy, white bread, peanut butter, sugar, teas, anything caffeinated, and many other items” for a month. Two weeks later, his problem stopped and he hasn’t had a problem since. He goes on to say that “the big process in my recovery has been this change in my diet,” and that the alcohol and drug problem he had for years is now “caged because of cannabis.” Learning to Walk In Nov. of 2001, Russell required the use of a wheelchair if he wanted to move any distance. From 2002 to 2006 he was in the chair full-time, and doctors were telling him he was never going to get out of it for the rest of his life. He suggested to his doctors to just let him use cannabis, but the doctors took Christine
off to the side and told her that “Russell would have to learn how to cope with it, as it was unrealistic to think he was going to get any better.” But Russell had other plans. In Feb. of 2007, Russell moved across the street from a mall, and by then he had also moved up to a type-two walker which came equipped with a seat. With this mall being so close to him, its hallways become his personal gym. He says the mall gave him “no more excuses,” and he started to walk around it. When he had to, he would sit on one of the many benches, which he believes worked to extend his reach. He made such good progress that in “six to seven weeks” he was able to move up to two canes; although he was very unstable with them. At the same time, Russell changed his diet. He mentioned that he had to give up the potato chips that he ate three times a week, as it was an “addiction which led to a rough weekend” when he gave them up. He blamed his problem on the iodized salt and the oil used to make the chips. He reflected back to a time when after cleaning up his diet, he awoke with his “legs on fire, and my ankles and feet were swollen” because had eaten something he shouldn’t have. By May 2007, the junk food was gone entirely; he was able to walk with a cane and out of the wheelchair, which he had been tethered to for over five years, for good. Meeting Christine One day, Russel’s friend David introduced him to a lady friend of his by the name of Christine. He had told Russell about her epilepsy and a few other personal things. Russell said he didn’t have any concerns about them, and at the time he wasn’t looking for a girlfriend, but one day she spent the night at Russell’s place and she had a seizure. When she realized what had just occurred, she apologized for it and got up to leave. But Russell said, “there is no need to apologize,” and he asked her why she would want to leave. She told him “most people look at me funny and then find an excuse to leave and then I never hear from them again.” He talked about the time in 2001 when Christine looked at him and said, “I don’t feel so good.” He described what happened next: “she died and her lights went out.” He said that he had seen enough seizures to know that she was having one. He describes “dragging her down the hall to the bathroom and throwing water on her. I was pounding on her chest telling her to wake up.” She awoke coughing and swinging her arms at him. She then asked, “what the hell was that? I was floating on the ceiling, watching you drag me to the bathroom. I see my dead grandfather, I see my hands as if I was a little girl, and then suddenly I’m on the floor again.” He then told her she had died. He found out later that this was not the first time this had happened, as the last one occurred in the dentist’s office whileshe was getting her wisdom teeth pulled.
Cannabis Digest • Fall 2013 Back then, Christine and Russell knew about the new Health Canada licensing program, so they approached her doctor with this idea, and found out how quickly he didn’t like it. While the doctor wasn’t completely against it, there was no way that the paperwork was going to get signed. They didn’t push the doctor on it, but she chose to continue its use. Because of this decision in 2002, Russell tells me she went from having “about 60 big and small seizures before July 1” of that year, and from then to “Dec. 31 of that year, she only had about 13 more.” The following year, that was reduced to nine before dropping to five in 2004. To help educate people about her condition and the benefits that cannabis brings, they have posted online a piece of video footage of Christine’s violent grand mal epileptic seizures. They say they did this “to educate and inform the public of the benefits of medicinal cannabis as an anticonvulsant. It has been broadcast and is available on <Pot-tv.net> and on YouTube.” Christine now requires 24/7 care, which is something that Russell has taken to. The video of Christine can be viewed at <www.youtube.com/ watch?v=MRZY2a2jnuw> Activism: How it all got Started Russell and Christine have been united as cannabis advocates for over eleven years. It started in May of 2002, when the two of them went to the Million Marijuana March on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The two of them say it was a “very basic setup with a microphone and some speakers. People sat around on blankets or sat in lawn chairs and maybe three hundred people were present.” The turning point for them was when an upset lady got up, went the microphone, and said, “I have MS and I’m a home care worker. If I can’t work I can’t feed my daughter and if these [expletive] want to put me in jail for that they can go ahead and try.” When they got home, Christine, who has dealing with the side effects of her epilepsy medicine and other ailments, spent a day and a half sitting on the balcony overlooking the city, thinking. Russell approached her and asked what was up. She told him “I’m thinking of quitting my medicine and just using cannabis.” He looked at her and said, “If we do that, then we need to become public activists. I’m not going to go sneaking around the cracks of this city finding you medicine; we’ve been doing that for the last year.” He then let her know that if she wanted to become an advocate, it would involve getting in the newspapers and going on TV. Christine replied, “that’s what I was thinking, but I wasn’t sure how to approach you about it.” He said that he really didn’t want to get arrested either, but they had no careers, no pets or kids, and nothing else that the police could use to threaten them for speaking out. But there was a concern about their families, such as what their parents would say or do. It appears that Russell found out shortly afterward, because after appearing on the TV news doing bong hits, his father, who was in Florida at the time, caught it on the satellite dish and hasn’t spoken to him much since. But Christine’s parents were “cool and perfectly fine with it.” How letter-writing got started Back in 2002, Russell occasionally wrote letters about cannabis to editors of newspapers. Within a year, he had gotten a few published across the country. Then in the fall of 2003, he found that more and more of his letters were finding their way into the papers so he “just started pounding them out.” When
13 I asked him how many he has written, he said “that for every letter that was published, I probably wrote or sent two hundred.” To some it might be disappointing to write so much and have one out of every two hundred published, but to Russell it was something that he described “as a war of attrition” and “filling the air with about 120 arrows and hopefully you hit something.” The two things that he has achieved and was very happy about was having “one letter published in four papers on the same day,” but the one that I think that made him the happiest was when he sent “one hemp letter out to all the news media I could find across the country. Over the next five to six weeks it was published 23 times with only minor variations.” Because the letter was over 1000 words long, it’s surprising it was being printed, as editors prefer letters to be 300 to 600 words in length. It didn’t end there, as he and Christine told me about the emails that they got from their provider, asking him “to stop, as he was filling up their server.” He says that he “enjoyed insulting politicians and others in a fun way with the letters,” such as “throwing [...] prohibitionists in jail” when responding to what they may have said in an article or on TV. He has questioned editors who print letters that are untrue or have no proof of what they say, including comments by politicians within articles. In the end, he says “I want evil people to hate me and I want nice people to like me.” Where did this get Russell? Did all these educational letters get him anywhere? If you follow him, you would know that he became the fourth most published letterto-editor writer in North America. (The three ahead of him are Robert Sharpe, Curt Mews, and Stan White.) Mommy’s Funny Medicine One day, while Russell and Christine were talking to a woman in a wheelchair, she told them that “someone should write a children’s book” about cannabis. A few weeks later, the pair spoke their friend Tim Meehan about it, and he said it was the “most subversive act of cannabis activism ever.” They tell me that “for every person who thought it was a good idea, three people thought writing a book about children and cannabis was wrong.” Christine says these people are wrong, as “the book offers so much information in a non-threatening form. It allows parents who may use cannabis as a medication a way to talk to their children about it. People can leave it on their coffee tables for others to read in order to educate them.” Russell recommends when explaining it to your children to tell them that “it’s my medicine, just like the purple cough medicine that you take for colds.” “With Canada hopefully about to change the laws regarding the possession of cannabis, there has been some talk in the media recently about ’sending the wrong message to children’ about drugs. Surprisingly, many seem to think that we need to think of something to tell children, but very few seem interested in simply telling kids the truth. So we decided to make a start.”— Russell Barth and Christine Lowe, Irked Magazine Russell says when they first sat down to write the book, “all the text that you read came out instantly with only some slight adjustments to it afterward.” He also tells me that “what a lot of people don’t know is that I’m ‘mommy’ and Christine is the little girl ‘Heather’ in the book because at the time Christine was my caregiver, as she wasn’t having many seizures.”
To see what someone thought of what they had accomplished, they invited their friend Mike Foster, the owner of Crosstown Traffic, Ottawa’s oldest book and counterculture shop, over to have a peek at a rough copy of what the book could look like. Russell says that “when he [Mike] was done his eyes were weepy and he said that “you guys have to do this book.” With the support of their friend, they carried on, with Christine doing the drawings and finishing off the text. Russell would review everything and work with Christine on getting it correct, but he found this hard. He says, “some pictures made me cry, as they were like reminders of a bad time.” In the end, the book was published with the help of Mike. They said that “Mike took it upon himself to privately have approximately 2000 copies printed.” When I asked them if many were sold or if any were left, they told me they weren’t sure if many did sell, but many have been given away. When it was first published, Russell made sure that “Jean Chretien got a copy, as he was the PM at the time” but he never received any acknowledgment that it was received. While Mr. Chretien didn’t thank him, he tells me Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett did when he recently presented her with some copies. Publication brought some attention to what they had done, as the two appeared on the front page of the Ottawa Sun in Jan. 2004. Following this, they also did an interview on Pot-TV that was conducted by David Melmo-Levine. An article about it, written by Russell, appeared in Cannabis Health Magazine. The two felt that the book creates a conversation among adults on how it should be explained to children. While some people had concerns, they tell me that people have written to them and thanked them for it. In the end, the book is big in information, is a true allegory, and even comes complete with an ISBN number. It is available in the public libraries located in Perth and Ottawa, Ontario, as well as at the Iqaluit Library in Nunavut. While finding the book for purchase may be hard to do, unless you go to <crosstowntraffic.ca> but you can find it as a video at <www.youtube.com/ watch?v=iaGrByr8KXA> TV In Jan. 2003, Russell and Christine made their first appearance on TV, which was about their efforts to open an Ottawa compassion center. Following that appearance, and after several others, they decided to set up their own appearance before the cameras. Along with Tim Meehan, they arranged and held a press conference near where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was speaking on crime. While everyone was listening to the Prime Minister speak, no one showed up at their news conference, but that didn’t stop them. Even though no one was there, they still talked as if they were, because it was being taped for later use. Hours passed before they were able to catch the rerun on CPAC, the government-funded channel. It was the same channel on which people had watched the Prime Minister tell Canadians and the police chiefs of Canada that he was going to give them lots of money to fight crime. What they got to see in the rerun was the Prime Minister finishing his news conference, and then CPAC telling their TV audience that some people opposed this plan and switched to Russell, Tim, and Christine doing their conference about the can-
nabis laws. “We didn’t even know that we were live to every news room in the county at once […] The room was empty, so not one reporter was present. The odd thing is it was a good thing that I moved my head as if I was talking to people in the room.” While the room may have been empty, they obviously reached thousands upon thousands of people in their homes. In the end he was told that he could have cannabis in his possession, but under the CDSA, he cannot consume it on the premises of licensed locations, including their outdoor patios. But the human rights decision was also not binding, and only affects him, so in the end no laws were changed and businesses are still at risk every time one of Ontario’s licensed holders walks through the door. It also doesn’t prevent the alcohol control board from charging a business if they smell cannabis around an establishment. So if a medical user medicates before walking into a bar, the owner can be charged. As Russell says, “the owner may never know until the fine arrives a couple of weeks later.” MMPR When it comes to the new medical marijuana program, Russell and Christine have some very real and big concerns. He feels that “they will set the bar so high that only bigger companies will be able to do it, and it’s going to be like PPS. Their stuff is terrible.” He went on to say he has concerns that there won’t be any medication available because “if someone doesn’t put seed in the ground soon, there won’t be any medication for the thirty thousand patients.” “We don’t even know what we should do at this point. As far as we’re concerned, we’re dead in Apr. We have no backup plan, and what are we supposed to do, ask our friends? This is like any other medication. If you suddenly drop it in half, it’s going to be hard. I’ve been telling my friends that I’m at a terrible place and that the coming stress is going to be terrible.” Christine says it’s “having no access and not being able to afford the medication, and because the government won’t provide it a DIN number, makes it very awkward,” before mentioning a cost of around $82 thousand for the two of them under the MMPR. When it comes to the MMAR and its future, he says, “I believe John Conroy, the lawyer for the MMPR against Repeal Coalition, has a good chance. But what I think that will happen is that the people who are presently under the MMAR will get grandfathered.” So how do we end some of the issues Russell and Christine have had to deal with? How do we stop people from being stigmatized by society, and how do we make cannabis, whether it’s medical or not, become acceptable? How do we stop the many problems around cannabis? Are these problems really related to the laws against it? That this pair and many others agree the way to get rid of the problems around cannabis is to end its prohibition. To do this, more and more people need to get educated on cannabis and speak up. When you think about it and add up what this pair has done, you can understand why Russell and Christine feel like the Ottawa Pied Pipers of Pot. This article was edited significantly for size. Please visit <cannabisdigest.ca> for the full version
Issue Number 38
Dilemas of Mainstream Cannabis Navigating Cannabis Science and Culture under Prohibition
By Owen Smith In my last article I encouraged the medical cannabis community to engage the Internet to stay astride with the rapidly emerging innovations in cannabis science worldwide. I urged patients and interested parties to look at the many examples just south of the border, where cannabis extractions are being explored with rigor; and implored licensed patients and caregivers in B.C. to explore alternative cannabis products that may be more appropriate for particular conditions. The explosion of Internet media has hoisted the cannabis debate to the main stage, keeping it there to appear daily in mainstream online news sites like the Huffington Post. Every day there can be found dozens of articles published by mainstream and independent news websites [or blogs] around the world. This greater access to information has helped diminish the kind of media control that led the “reefer madness” campaign that successfully prohibited cannabis in the late 1930s and bolstered it in the 1980s. In this quickly growing public domain, wherever debates erupt, good arguments from professional sources can easily be cited. Each interaction offers greatly needed perspective on this complex debate, assisting the public’s gradual self-education. The ability to reply to an article in the comment section below has increased the availability of alternative opinions and ideas. This has helped slowly chip away at the prohibitionists’ armour, but as an argument is slain, a new one emerges. Like a vigilant knight, the Internet user seeking information about cannabis must face a many-headed dragon. The rise of social media has given independent sites a better ability to compete by having their stories shared by a large number of social media participants, going “viral.” While providing a forum to create and share information, the Internet has increased the responsibility of individuals to employ critical thinking. In
my experience with patient forums, like those found all over Facebook, many of which have hundreds of members, I commonly come across articles with exaggerated headlines and dubious conclusions. Alarming or exciting claims from articles that do not provide a hyperlink to some verifiable scientific source should be considered with caution. Reputable websites will proudly and clearly provide the link to their sources. There are a number of organized catalogues of cannabis research that have been compiled, updated, and reproduced by volunteers all over the web (see the Granny Storm Crow list). As the debate continues to heat up, I see just as many positive claims of cannabis benefits as I do negative ones. Online communities like <medpot.net> and <drugsense.org> are websites dedicated to providing all known media reports and scientific findings. This service helps many individuals sort through and analyse all of the available facts to make a well informed decision. Looming in the shadows of our cannabis discussion is the spectre of prohibition. Whether we talk about medical research, popular culture, or the enormous economic potential of cannabis, the landscape of our discussion is riddled with roadblocks. Politicians have maintained this intense campaign to eradicate this helpful herb for nearly a century, spending approximately 30 billion dollars enforcing the drug war in the U.S. this year alone. More than half of the drug arrests in 2013 have been cannabis-related. In the U.S., cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 substance (alongside heroin and LSD), which maintains it has no medical use and a high risk of abuse. This classification has successfully kept cannabis out of the hands of independent researchers and scientists. The absurdity of this position has become apparent as science elsewhere unravels the unique role of cannabis alongside our bodies’ own endocannabinoid systems.
James Kerr Registered Clinical Counsellor
No Stigma, No Judgment, Just life changing conversation. E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 250 580 9050 W: cannabismentalhealth.com
Some high-profile U.S. doctors, like CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, have openly reversed or apologized for misinforming the public about cannabis. Gupta’s CNN special “Weed” followed the story of Charlotte Figi, who with Gervais Syndrome at age three, suffered from 300 grand mal seizures a week. After exhausting the available medications and before resorting to powerful veterinary drugs, Charlotte was given an edible cannabis extract which reduced her seizures to one a day. Gupta reports that “not because of sound science, but because of its absence, marijuana was classified as a schedule 1 substance.” Gupta uncovered in his special that to treat such extreme conditions in children, it is important to cultivate cannabis high in CBD. GW Pharmaceuticals of the U.K. are on course to take a liquid carbon dioxide whole-plant extraction made from two cannabis strains, one high in THC and the other high in CBD, to American states that lack any kind of medical marijuana laws. CBD strains have recently become a staple of medical cannabis dispensaries, distinguishing their services further from recreational users, offering relief to those who do not seek the “high” caused by THC. Currently, synthetic THC products are the only federally approved form of medical cannabis available to physicians in the U.S. Sativex, which is approximately 1:1 CBD:THC, has been approved in 22 countries, including Canada, and is poised to bring cannabis out of its Schedule 1 exile in the U.S. But if the product does win FDA approval, it won’t be because of any national trends in the culture, adds Gover of GW Pharmaceuticals. “I actually think it’s in spite of that. The regulatory success of Sativex, and the standing we have with industry is entirely independent of public views about the good or bad of marijuana,” says Gover. “It’s all about looking at cannabinoids as an interesting new source of therapeutics.” While GW Pharmaceuticals wait for FDA approval, some people cannot afford to wait for access to this medicine. An encounter caught on camera between New Jersey governor Chris Christie and the father of a child who suffers from intense seizures similar to Charlotte’s, highlighted the urgency of this issue. Perhaps in part due to the effort of this loving father, Christie signed a provision in the New Jersey medical marijuana laws to include children. Other parents in similarly dire situations around the country are reaching out to their state representatives to use cannabis as a medicine for their children. Considering that the pundits of prohibition have been assuring the public that the dangers of medical marijuana to children are too great to allow its use at all, this mainstream revelation has eroded that argument. Showing that regulated forms of cannabis can be well tolerated and effective, even for children with extreme medical conditions, serves as an example of cannabis’s solid safety profile. I believe that similar breakthroughs in the mainstream awareness of cannabis as a medicine can spread with just as much ferocity when confirmed. After nearly a century of cannabis prohibition, many have succumbed to anger and frustration, turning on mainstream medicine with teeth showing. A
recent visit from activist Rick Simpson highlighted this disgruntlement. Billed to speak about “phoenix tears,” a cheap and easily produced concentrated cannabis oil, Rick made plenty of space to make his distaste for government and allopathic medicine abundantly clear. Rick Simpson’s film Run From the Cure has become an Internet phenomenon, with over two million views on YouTube. While Rick’s sentiment echoes many suffering from this life-threatening condition, some of his followers have taken his crusade to new levels of zeal. This folk fervour for “phoenix tears” was exemplified this week when a volunteer for the SensibleBC campaign to decriminalize cannabis in B.C. made a spectacle at a “Terry Fox Run for the Cure” event. “I ran the whole race screaming that marijuana cures cancer, because it does,” said Skidmore. Although his unverified claims didn’t legally damage the campaign, he was shortly after asked to stop canvassing. Campaign organizer Dana Larsen responded that cannabis derivatives have been shown in studies to kill cancer cells, but he believes that describing marijuana as a “cure” goes too far. Dr. Donald Abrams, Chief of Hematology-Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital, agrees. “I do integrative oncology,” he says, “So I hear about ‘miracle cures’ all the time. I hear about noni juice and graviola and many products. I think it does a disservice to the cannabis community to make claims that are not supportable. I may be seen as a nay-sayer but I’m not. I say ‘Let’s study it’.” Fortunately, cannabis has now been legalized in two U.S. States, and Dr. Abrams is part of BOTEC, the team hired to help Washington State implement the I-502 voter initiative. The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced that they will allow these states to proceed with the implementation of their new marijuana laws. These states will serve as examples for others who may seek to follow in their footsteps, crafting legislation, performing research, and expanding the economic horizons for this highly useful, heavily oppressed, under-utilized plant. The American Herbal Products Association recently presented recommendations for decentralized medical cannabis cultivation and distribution. “This is the only way to ensure that those who most need it will be able to access it at a reasonable cost, and that discovery and innovation can be optimized. There is nothing inherently amiss with cannabisbased pharmaceutical production, but the operation of such industry and its eventual product approval should not be allowed to exclude or impede general medicinal access to the class of organic botanicals from which such preparations are ultimately derived.” Medical cannabis dispensaries like the VCBC have begun working with medical practitioners to gather information of importance to the medical community. The VCBC have offered CBD strains of dried cannabis for over a year and have recently introduced edible CBD products. During the past year, the VCBC has conducted a survey into the effects of one CBD strain on their membership. So far, the reported results have varied; but there has been ... cont. on page 17
Issue Number 38
Cannabis Digest • Fall 2013 ...cont. from page 14 general success among patients who have difficulty with the mental effects of THC. Most found it uplifting, relieving pain, anxiety, and stress; others reported improved focus, relief of nausea, and reduced muscle spasms; while others found it made them lazy, or reported weak effects, and one person found it made it difficult to sleep. With feedback processes like these, dispensaries can learn and adjust their products to the needs of their membership. One of the larger organizations to provide products to U.S. dispensaries is Medical Marijuana Inc. They have developed the Dixie line of medicinal edible cannabis options that include a tincture, a capsule, and a topical cream. In Oregon, at the 2013 HempStalk festival, Dixie Elixirs profiled these three product innovations. Gatherings like HempStalk give scientific innovation a moment in the spotlight; but never far away looms the spectre of prohibition. Dixie Elixirs founder Tripp Keber, was arrested at an Alabama Music Festival after being found in the possession of liquid THC with toothpicks in it. Colorado recently released their complete rules for retail recreational marijuana sales, and Washington State will have stores open in the New Year. Initiatives are being prepared for nearly a dozen more states, not including Alabama, to legalize cannabis in the next few years. With more groups forming to change the laws and advance knowledge of the cannabis plant, our relationship with cannabis culture may continue to transform until it is beyond anything we would now recognize. A former U.S. Navy nuclear submarine technician designs and sells supercritical CO2 extraction machines that isolate the cannabinoid oils from the plant material. While these machines are far more expensive than the rice cooker used by Rick Simpson, they have zero potential for toxic solvent residue. The supercritical CO2 extraction machine allows the creation of concentrated oils from naturally grown hemp stalk and seed that contain high amounts of CBD. “The hemp oil we use is biologically created in hemp plants, and our methodology isolates and extracts it,” asserts Dixie Botanicals science director Tamar Wise. They make “Real Scientific Hemp Oil,” which is an 18 percent CBD extract of hemp, similar in appearance to the goo produced and administered in syringes by the followers of Rick Simpson. Confusingly, Rick Simpson calls his cannabis oil concentrate, “hemp oil,” but it isn’t actually made from hemp plants, like RSHO. Unfortunately for now, the price of RSHO, even on a half-price sale on Amazon, is so expensive that many people would choose to make their own. Six ten-gram syringes costs $2,300 U.S. In Canada, the constitutional challenge that occurred during my voir dire in 2012, that won the right for patients to make and use extracted cannabis products, has been appealed by the federal government and has now been re-scheduled to happen in Vancouver on Dec. 6, 2013. Currently, the Judges’ decision to allow patients and caregivers to make cannabis extracts is in effect. All of the recipes and methods used by the VCBC are available on their website. Because of the risk of contaminants and the danger inherent in the process, the VCBC does not make concentrated extracts, like Rick Simpson. Lesser concentrated products make it easier to regulate dosage and can be just as effective,
if only in larger doses. Canada seems to have fallen behind the rest of the world in the last eight years under the guidance of the Conservative party. When asked about marijuana legalization in a 2010 YouTube Interview, Steven Harper drilled, “drugs aren’t bad because they’re illegal, they’re illegal because they’re bad.” Implementing mandatory jail sentences for growing six cannabis plants and revoking the ability for any federally licensed person to grow their own medicine has created panic and outrage among patients. There are some patient advocacy groups who are helping to organize the resistance. With the government’s new “Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation,” the MMPR, coming into force next Apr., there is considerable doubt among patients that they will have their needs met. Those who were able to secure a legal supply of medicine through the MMAR will no longer be able to renew their license to grow as of Oct. 1, 2013, meaning many have already cropped out for the last time. Dispensaries like the VCBC in Victoria are already seeing an increase in membership as licenses run out. Because of the considerable failure of the MMAR to provide adequately for sick Canadians, the straightforward and familiar storefront model appeals to many. Dispensaries offer a clean, safe, reliable place to obtain guidance on a variety of quality-controlled cannabis products. In the ruling from one of the VCBC’s earlier trials (then the CBCoC), Judge Chaperon wrote, “It is unsettling to contemplate persons with AIDS or who are undergoing cancer treatment being forced to go down to the illegal drug emporium which operates in the downtown core of Victoria to acquire their marijuana from persons who are interested only in selling them drugs of unknown quality for a profit. But on Jan. 3, 2002, but for compassion clubs such as Mr. Smith’s, that was their only alternative.” The Netherlands has long been known as the most progressive country in terms of its cannabis laws. Yet in recent years, the Dutch government attempted to restrict the highly popular “coffee shops” to Dutch residents alone, enacting a “weed pass.” However, with a concurrent increase in street violence among drug dealers, threatening businesses, there has been a city-by-city return of the “coffee shops.” With the recent increase in cannabis dispensaries in Canada, there is some uncertainty as to the expectations they are required to meet. Health Canada has repeatedly refused to regulate dispensaries in Canada, and even though they have continued to multiply, there are no unified standards or established associations to review them. Their mandates, as well as their services, can vary widely. Some will accept proof of a doctor-diagnosed permanent physical condition or disease; others will admit patients with mental conditions; and all accept those who have their doctor’s recommendation. For many years, the “pot block” in Vancouver has been known as Vansterdam, hosting the west coast’s only “vapour lounges,” which allow patrons to use cannabis, but do not distribute it. In the past, clubs like DaKine, “a Dutch-style coffee shop [...] which openly sold cannabis and pot food for over four months on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive” have eventually been shut down by police. With the lack of distinction between medical dispensaries and recreational
ones, some patients are concerned that their dispensary will become victim of a raid through association. In 2010, the Culture 420 club in Lachine was closed and four other compassion clubs in nearby Quebec and Montreal were raided simultaneously. An investigation found that the Culture 420 club would accept a self-diagnosis for cannabis signed by a Commissioner for Oaths. The other clubs have since reopened. The Ottawa Health Advocacy center was open less than a month after it was uncovered that they sold cannabis to people without doctors’ notes. Recently, just two blocks from my house in Victoria, the Vancouver Island Health Advocacy Centre was raided. A CTV news report revealed that they provided cannabis for recreational purposes as well as to those with medical need. Fortunately no other Victoria clubs were raided. In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled against David Malmo-Levine, who ran an East Vancouver storefront called the “Harm Reduction Club,” which intended to reduce the harm associated with marijuana use by educating users and the public about the drug and by providing the drug at cost. Levine argued that there should be a requirement of harm for criminal law. The court ruled that Parliament need not establish harm but only a reasonable apprehension of harm. The criminal law power, they state, includes the protection of vulnerable groups. Thus the government is able to control activities for the protection of drug users and society. Many times, government commissioned scientists have come under fire for publishing reports that found cannabis was incorrectly outlawed. Professor
David Nutt was fired after producing a report for the UK Home Office that found cannabis and LSD were less harmful than alcohol. He calls prohibition “the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Galileo: I’m sure at some point someone’s going to arrest me. There is a sense of repression to the point that most people won’t do it.” While governments argue that they cannot legalize cannabis because it hasn’t undergone sufficient study, scientists like Nutt are calling for drugs to be legalized to allow the proper study of their properties. It is hard for us to imagine today how the members of the Inquisition justified the persecution of Galileo in order to protect their perception that the earth was the centre of the universe. It may be equally difficult for the people of the near future to imagine how the government now justifies persecuting patients; raiding honest businesses, and stifling medical research in order to protect the perception that this plant is inherently evil. Today we all agree that Galileo’s discovery was as important as it was inevitable, yet the same dawn has not yet risen for the cannabis culture, as the condemnation continues from many corners of the conversation. While we stand at the precipice of a greener world, watching the freshly burst torrents of information cascade down a mountainside filled with our fallen friends and their families, may we clear the path of persecution, and allow them to nourish one another until the sunrise broken horizon fills with light and we all see the errors of our ways.
Issue Number 38
How to Start a University Club Get involved and grow Hempology 101
By Steven Faryna I’m going to be writing about the why’s and how’s of starting a cannabis oriented university or college club. Apart from giving you the basic information on what you will need to do, I also hope to convince you of the great experiences that a school club can bring. On Oct. 5, 2011, during my fourth year of undergraduate studies, I decided that Mount Allison University, the school I was attending at the time, needed an educational cannabis club. Up until that point I had never given much thought to school clubs, outside of thinking that “those kids need to grow up.” Groups like the Zombie Apocalypse club, Smash Bros club, and on and on have no objective other than to have fun. I felt that they all lacked some substance I craved—a substance, believe it or not, that was not cannabis. It was meaningful social input. I wanted a club that wasn’t ignorantly maintaining the status quo, but instead fighting against it. I wanted a club that could make a substantial difference not only on a personal basis, but also on a global basis. So, I started a club called High Society. Over the next couple of months, I discovered three things. I found out that 1) High Society is also the name of a popular U.S. pornographic magazine; 2) after hearing the name “High Society,” absolutely no one took me seriously; and 3) my club was just as silly—maybe even sillier—than the rest. We weren’t fighting stereotypes, we were validating them. In the weeks proceeding the club’s birth, I was doing a lot of research on cannabis activism in a university setting and came across two names that changed my life: Ted Smith and Hempology 101. I contacted Ted, and over the following months he gave me much of the advice that I’m now going to pass to you. At that point, the club was still operating as High Society, which Ted told me sounded
“more like a Cheech and Chong party than a serious advocacy organization.” We also weren’t doing much in the avenue of education. We were offering movie showings every second week to a nearly noneexistent audience and were deemed by the student body as a group of people “just hanging out getting high.” This stigma is something that all new cannabis education clubs will unfortunately have to deal
was based largely on my personal values and the belief that people and the ideas they support are stronger when united. The Mount Allison Hempology 101 Society has now been running for several years, in which time many events have been hosted, including lectures, potlucks, and bonfires. We also hosted a cannabis convention with speeches by members of MCPAC (Medical Cannabis Patients Al-
Members of the Mt. Allison Hempology 101 Club in front of their MP’s office
with to some extent. However, the negative opinions can be minimized by hosting events such as lectures, or by aligning one’s club with an established group such as Hempology 101. Even then, anything to do with cannabis, even medical marijuana, will be met negatively by a sometimes surprisingly large portion of society. Anyone starting a club will have to accept this fact and make it their job to educate people and show them why their beliefs concerning cannabis and its consumers are false. After three to four months of chatting with Ted over email, I decided that it would be in High Society’s best interest to take up the name, objective, and resources of Hempology 101. The decision
liance of Canada) and THCC (The Halifax Compassion Club). In Feb. 2013, we took part in the MMPR protest, in which club members were able to meet their MP, Dominic Leblanc. In a couple of years, the club went from a “Cheech and Chong party” to having pictures taken with the Beausejour MP. Ultimately, the club is much more than just a group of people sitting around and smoking weed. Starting a school club is a relatively simple process, which will vary slightly depending on how the university or college’s student union is set up. The first thing to do will be to visit your student union office and explain to them that you hope to form a new club. They will give you a form of varying length and content. The form will likely require information such as the club name, objective, executive members, meeting dates and locations, etc. Don’t fret much over these details, as meeting dates, locations, and even executive members are likely to change within the first couple of weeks or months of the club’s existence. At this point, the goal is simply to make the club official—nothing is written in stone. A completed and submitted form will allow the student union to decide whether to ratify the club. This process is carried out in a number of ways and largely depends on the school. In general, it will consist of something like a student committee voting on whether the club meets the proper criteria and should be allowed to function as an official school club. Hempology 101 is focused on cannabis education, as stated in the mandate, and as such will likely have full support from the voting body. You’d have to be a real square to vote against having a Hempology 101 club on campus. As of yet, no one trying to start up a Hempology 101 club has been denied by their student union. Once the club is official, the rewarding work can begin. A Hempology club could be run by a single dedicated member, but there are many benefits to finding a solid group of people to help. Having an executive board allows for the delegation of tasks so that a single person is not responsible for everything the club does. For example: one person is delegated all so-
cial media tasks (Facebooking, emailing) while another is delegated all administrative tasks (room bookings, minute keeping) and so on and so forth. That said, it is important to find ambitious individuals, as poor-quality work reflects on the group and can reinforce the mentality that cannabis supporters are stupid and lazy. Promote, promote, promote. The Hempology 101 motto is “Legalization Through Education,” and you can’t educate a nonexistent audience. Building up an audience is crucial, and cannabis activists have a long history of being ignored. Cannabis itself is a great promoter, but if left to its own devices may attract an undesirable crowd. A group of people who only want to get high are impossible to educate and do little to further the movement. Ideally, all sorts of people from all sorts of social, economic, and ideological backgrounds will be part of the group. To support this diversity it’s important to make it clear that you do not have to smoke cannabis to care about cannabis, and that everyone is welcome to participate in club activities without the worry of cannabis consumption being pushed upon them. First and foremost, the aim is to provide the historical, scientific, and cultural information that has been systemically kept from the general public through legislative and cultural means. Participate in the school’s club days, write an article for the school paper (better yet, try and get an ongoing cannabis column), get a radio show on the school station, and seek out and use all of the other promotional sources that your school has to offer. Once you have a club, an executive board, and members, you are ready to start projects and hosting events. The types of events and projects are up to you. If you’re looking for some inspiration, Hempology 101 has established some great events. Weekly lectures (notes for which can be found on the Hempology 101 website), potluck networking dinners, bonfires, and movie nights are all great ways to build club membership, and as excellent media from which to spread information concerning cannabis and culture. A couple of additional points that are worth noting: You don’t have to be a university student to found a university club. Ted Smith has run the UVic Hempology 101 club since its beginnings without ever having been a registered student at the University of Victoria. All you need to do is find a student willing to be the signing authority. The student will likely need to register the club, book rooms, etc. Communication is key. Talk to your community and your fellow activists. Hell, talk to everyone. This is a social movement which relies fully on communication to expand. Funding is always an issue. Unless you’re super rich and willing to fund the club out of your own pocket, you will need to seek out funding. Student unions often offer funding for clubs, and fund-raising events like bake sales, sponsorships by relevant businesses like head shops, or club membership fees are all ways in which clubs can help pay for their activism. You now have all the information necessary to get out there and start a club of your own. Hempology 101 is going to expand exponentially in the next couple of years. Now is a better time than ever to get involved and be a part of the change.
Cannabis Digest â€˘ Fall 2013
Issue Number 38
Ganja in Jamaica Setting the present history of Cannabis Sativa in Jamaica aright: A Rastafari Perspective
By Robert Gordon (Ras Kahleb) It is scholarly opinion that it was the indentured laborers from eastern Asia, the East Indians in particular, who arrived on the island of Jamaica with seeds of Cannabis Sativa, and who had introduced the Cannabis culture to the Jamaican population after emancipation in 1838. No longer coerced into servile labor on the plantation by the Jamaican plantocracy, the Africans had now begun to demand lands for living and agricultural purposes and payment for their labor, which was still needed. Emancipation clearly had its immediate negative effects on the Jamaican plantation economy, and the freedom of the former African enslaved had now correlated with its decline. Hence, the British Crown paid out compensation to the Jamaican planters, and with this they made a major historic move. Whilst the Africans were now proactive about earning a wage and contemplating the better treatment they would receive while on the job, the plantocracy was considering something else. Not wanting to pay the Africans the wages they were demanding, nor wanting to establish a humane relationship with the former enslaved, the plantocracy in Jamaica sought to employ laborers from the other side of the globe. In Asia, for example, push factors forced East-Asians out of Asia in search of opportunity, and pull factors attracted some to the Caribbean, where these opportunities were. The push factors were supposedly persistent war, slavery, poverty, and famine, and the pull factors were supposedly a peaceful, free, and employed life in the West on the fat of lands which could eventually be purchased. Although it is a noted fact that the Chinese had a thriving Cannabis culture for thousands of years, it is only said that they brought with them seeds of the Opium plant to Jamaica, which was rather unusual to the African population. On the other hand, the East-Indians carried along with them seeds of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Though a psychoactive plant used in East-Indian culture for millennia for the purpose of communing with gods, Cannabis was also used for its vast nutritional and healing value. This very same Cannabis culture persists in Jamaica today, and is best reflected by the Rastafari eccentric, the “Bird Imple” or “Bird Man,” who often eats the raw cured buds and seeds of Ital grown Cannabis Sativa for nutrition and peculiarly uses the raw leaves to quickly heal cuts, burns, or any abrasion of the skin. Another noticeable cultural habit among the Rastafari and the wider Jamaican community is their Cannabis tea and its healing effects. A bit of bud from the Cannabis Sativa
plant is boiled in pure spring water with no sugar added, and given to the smallest of children with asthma or bronchitis to drink as a medicinal tea. Also, as a cultural practice throughout Jamaica, the Cannabis Sativa plant, preferably the buds, are soaked in pure Jamaican overproof rum made from cane sugar, and at a prescribed time, is massaged onto the necks, chests and backs of children and adults with asthma, bronchitis, or any infection of the lungs.
its Cannabis culture from its East-Indian community. However, such an idea does undermine that fragment of popular intellectual opinion that has, for a long while now, been testifying to a possible ill-fact that it was the East-Indians who had introduced Cannabis to the island, and that they were solely the pioneers of the Cannabis culture in Jamaica. It is a historical fact that all throughout Africa, especially the sub-Sahara, people cultivated Cannabis Sativa for its spiri-
Kahleb working on his article in Jamaica
A more recent debate has been aimed at challenging the idea of Jamaicans inheriting their Cannabis culture from their East-Indian brethren. A sociology graduate student and friend of mine, who attends the University of the West Indies, brought it to my attention that there were arising opinions in relation to a Cannabis culture being practiced clandestinely by Africans during and after slavery in Jamaica, which have raised the alarm of some academicians. Whether I am in support of this notion or not, it is important to note that most if not all African spiritual or metaphysical practices were outlawed or forbidden on the various plantations throughout the Caribbean, and to survive, this Cannabis culture would have been practiced rather clandestinely. Furthermore, in my opinion, the idea that Africans carried Cannabis seeds from Africa during and after trans-Atlantic slavery to the Caribbean does not entirely refute the notion or popular opinion that Jamaica inherited
tual/metaphysical, cosmic/astronomic, nutritional/medicinal purposes and uses. On this same topic, Ted Smith’s recent work, Hempology 101: 4th Edition, says: “Though Cannabis Sativa is not indigenous to Africa, it arrived there tens of thousands of years ago, and thrived in the sub-Saharan regions of the continent where conditions are perfect for growing cannabis. The Ethiopians are particularly well known for their use of cannabis” (Smith 2012). Additionally, in his national best seller The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Jack Herer helps to confirm the fact that both primitive and modern man in Africa cultivated Cannabis: “Carl Sagan proposed evidence using the Bushmen of Africa (today) to show hemp to have been the first plant cultivated by man dating to when he was a huntergatherer,” (Herer 2000). In a recent conversation with Dr. Jalani Niaah, a Rastafari scholar and understudy of the Late “Professor Emeritus” Barry Chevannes, Jalani confirms the notion held by some that Africans, while on the plantations in Jamaica, did have an existing Cannabis culture prior to emancipation, but there was little evidence to prove this if you are to make reference to any particular documented source. Based on the above arguments made by Dr. Niaah, I think it would be correct to rather hypothesize that East-Indians assisted the growth and development of the already existing Cannabis culture in post-emancipation Jamaica. I think that it is now pertinent that more research be conducted on this subject, and for the purpose of setting the present history of Cannabis Sativa in Ja-
maica aright. It is factual that not enough scientific research has been conducted to be able to precisely establish whether or not Africans took Cannabis seeds with them to the Caribbean during and after slavery. Likewise, it is also a fact that not enough research has been done overall to establish any scientific or intellectual opinion either, yet one presently and predominantly exists. My argument here is that there is also room for a theory that Africans had carried along seeds of the Cannabis plant to the Caribbean during and after trans-Atlantic slavery. Such opinion, once widely held, can also become considered as an established fact. In July of 2000, the National Ganja Commission was formulated by the People’s National Party (PNP) Government with the late “Professor Emeritus” Barry Chevannes as its Chairman, and had set out to conduct its scientific research on ganja and its potential impact on Jamaican society. The commission was then to report its findings and make recommendations to the Jamaican Government. In 2001, in the report made by the Commission, Chevannes highlighted the harmlessness of ganja use throughout Jamaican society. Furthermore, on top of the list of recommendations to the Jamaican Government was the “decriminalization” of small amounts of ganja and its “declassification” into a “soft” drug, (National Ganja Commission Report 2001). Previously, ganja was wickedly classified as a “hard” drug and associated with cocaine and heroin. Historically, those found with ganja in their possession were simply marred, beaten and jailed for long periods of time or treated as madmen and thrown into asylums. In the late 1960s, reggae icon and marijuana activist Peter Tosh had a near-death experience when he was brutally beaten by the Jamaican police for a spliff tail, and as he told his close Rastafari brethrens, “I had to play dead for them to stop beating I’ man.” In terms of legislation, ganja is illegal and still has not yet been decriminalized as recommended by the Commission over a decade ago. Recently, statistics have highlighted how at least fifty percent of the population has consumed the ganja plant in one form or another. Even my own mother, a devout Christian, confesses to me that she once had a drink of ganja wine back in the 1970s, and that it was given to her by the brewer himself, who was a Rastaman living in the Constant Springs community of St. Andrew, Jamaica, and who was a member of the Rastafari Coptic Community in the hills of St. Thomas, where my dad spent the most of his time as a sergeant of Jamaican Constabulary Force. On a cultural note, the Jamaican society, with the Rastafari as their leading spirits, are pro-ganja. Even those corrupt politicians who visibly fight against ganja through legislation, are the major underground players involved in its trade to other territories throughout North, South and Central America, and the Caribbean.
Cannabis Digest â€˘ Fall 2013
Issue Number 38
HEMPOLOGY 101 CROSSWORD
By Dieter MacPherson
Check out Georgia’s website to see some of her other comics, read her blog, and help her spread the good word by picking up a copy of her book of the Happy Hippie comics.
Crossword Answers: 1. thebiglebowski 2. haroldandkumargotowhitecastle 3. savinggrace 4. biodome 5. nicedreams 6. evilbong 7. superhighme 8. howhigh 9. supertroopers 10. easyrider 11. upinsmoke 12. pineappleexpress 13. dazedandconfused 14. half-baked 15. fasttimesatridgemonthigh 16. humboltcounty 17. homegrown 18. cheechandchong 19. grandmasboy 20. fritzthecat 21. dudewheresmycar 22. rollingkansas 23. friday 24. reefermadness
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Cannabis Digest • Fall 2013
CANNABIS CLUBS ACROSS CANADA AND THE U.S.A
Cannabis dispensaries in Canada, due to a lack of regulation, all operate under unique and individual mandates. As such, the membership requirements of each dispensary differ. We recommend travelling with a copy of your original proof of condition (doctor’s note) which the VCBC staff will be happy to provide. It is also recommended to research the dispensaries in the region you will be visiting and try to establish contact, if possible, before yourvisit. Please be discreet and polite when contacting another dispensary—you are representing the VCBC too! Keep in mind: Some dispensaries have problems with supply and accessibility. The VCBC cannot guarantee that another dispensary will have supply or accept your card as proof of condition. Please help grow this network and support your local clubs by encouraging quality gardeners to direct their product to local dispensaries, or by growing yourself. MEDCANNACCESS T.A.G.G.S British Columbia Tel: 416-253-1021 Fax: 416-253-1428 11696 - 224th St., Maple Ridge, BC v2x 6a2 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 604-477-0557 Fax:604-477-0575 VICTORIA BUYERS’ CLUB OF CANADA (VCBC) www.medcannaccess.org Email: email@example.com 826 Johnson St., Victoria Tel: 250-381-4220 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org RAINBOW MEDICAL CANNABIS CANADA NELSON COMPASSION CLUB www.cbc-canada.ca Toronto, Ontario #203-602 Josephine St. Nelsom, BC Tel: 416-927-8639 Tel: 250-354-4206 NORTH ISLAND COMPASSION CLUB www.rainbowmedicinalcannabis.ca Email: email@example.com Tel:250-871-5207 OCEAN GROWN MEDICINAL SOCIETY 1725 Cook St Unit 1, Victoria Tel: 778-265-1009 VANCOUVER ISLAND COMPASSION SOCIETY 853 Cormorant St., Victoria Tel:250-381-8427 Fax: 250-381-8423 BC COMPASSION CLUB SOCIETY 2995 Commercial Drive, Vancouver Tel:604-875-0448 Fax: 604-875-6083 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.thecompassionclub.org GREEN CROSS SOCIETY OF B.C. 2127 Kingsway, Vancouver Tel: 778-785-0370 Fax:778-785-0477 www.greencrossofbc.org VANCOUVER MEDICINAL CANNABIS DISPENSARY 880 East Hastings St. Tel: 604-255-1844 Fax: 604-255-1845 West End location: 1182 Thurlow St. Email: email@example.com www.cannabisdispensary.ca YALETOWN MEDICAL DISPENSARY 1281 Howe St., Vancouver TEL: (604) 566-9051 FAX: (604) 558-2879 www.yaletownmedicaldispensary.com VAN CITY MEDICINAL SOCIETY 1594 Kingsway, Vancouver Tel: (604) 875-0002 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
BE KIND OKANAGAN GROWERS AND COMPASSION CLUB. 288 Hwy. #33 West Rutland, BC (Kelowna) Tel: 778-753-5959 Fax: 778-753-5755 Vernon Location: Email: email@example.com www.okanagancompassionclub.com WESTCOAST MEDICANN 2931 Cambie St., Vancouver, BC. Tel: 604-558-2266 www.westcoastmedicann.com PAIN MANAGEMNT SOCIETY 2137 Commercial Drive. Vancouver Tel: 604-215-4551 Fax: 1-888-684-6906 www.painmanagementsociety.org EDEN MEDICINAL SOCIETY 161 E. PENDER, Vancouver Tel: 604-568-9337 637 E. HASTINGS, Vancouver Tel: 604-568-9337 www.myeden.ca
Alberta M.A.C.R.O.S. 4121-118 Avenue NW, Edmonton, Alberta Tel: 780-457-6824 Website: www.macros.ca
MED POT NOW SOCIETY 4170 Fraser St. , Vancouver Tel: (604) 569-2119 www.medpotnow.com
C.A.L.M. Toronto, Ontario Tel: 416-367-3459 Fax: 416-367-4679 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.cannabisclub.ca
THE HEALING TREE 529 East Hastings St., Vancouver Tel: 604-569-1091 http://delta9medical.ca/
TORONTO COMPASSION CENTRE Tel: 416-668-6337 Fax: 416-461-7116 Email: email@example.com www.torontocompassioncentre.org
MEDICAL COMPASSION CLINIC 66 Wellesley St E 2nd Fl, Toronto Ontario Tel: 647-291-0420 www.medicalcompassionclinic.com MEDICAL CANNABIS CLUB OF GUELPH Tel: 519-341-0700 Fax:226-777-0150 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.medicalcannabisclub.ca KINGSTON COMPASSION CLUB SOCIETY #409 800 Princess St Kingston Ontario K7L 1G3 Tel: 613-547-2459 Fax: 613-280-1341 Website: www.kingstoncompassion.org
Québec MONTREAL COMPASSION CLUB Tel: 514-523-9961 Fax: 514-523-0637 Email: email@example.com www.clubcompassion.net LE CENTRE COMPASSION DE QUEBEC Tel: 418-522-8766 Fax: 418-522-0289 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.compassionquebec.org
Maritimes THCC—FARM ASSISTS Tel: (902) 495-0420 http://thccsociety.wix.com/home **To add your club to this list, please contact: <email@example.com>
E BRITANNIQUE - CANADA DUTY PAI
The Surgeon General... Said Nuthin’ About Smokin’ The Competition. Check Us Out Online at: www.thesmokezone.com Enter our contests Nanaimo, BC
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Cannabis Digest â€˘ Fall 2013