Pubdate: Wed, 28 Jun 2000
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: The Vancouver Sun 2000
Contact:  200 Granville Street, Ste.#1, Vancouver BC V6C 3N3
Fax: (604) 605-2323
Author: Neal Hall


A Former Red Cross Director Who Sold Marijuana To The B.c. Compassion
Club Is Discharged By Top Court

A Vancouver man busted for growing medicinal marijuana was handed an
absolute discharge Tuesday by a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

"It's an important decision," said defence lawyer John Conroy,
representing the grower, Bill Small, who was arrested after RCMP
executed a search warrant on his Sechelt home almost two years ago.

The lawyer said the courts are recognizing the government's move to
decriminalize marijuana for medicinal use, while there are no
government growing operations to supply the growing medical pot market.

"I guess we could call it a grey market," Conroy said of the current
crop of medicinal marijuana growers.

Small 40, pleaded guilty to producing marijuana, but argued the
purpose of his growing operation was to supply medical marijuana to
the B.C. Compassion Club.

"They financed it and he sold to them at $1,500 a pound - about half
the going rate," Conroy said.  "Clearly, he was doing it for
compassionate, altruistic reasons."

He noted Small is one of the founders of the Compasion Club and is
still a member and medicinal marijuana user.

Small was formerly a member of the Small Brothers, an Ottawa bluegrass
band, and a former director of the Canadian Red Cross.

During sentencing Tuesday, Justice Randall Wong referred to the B.C.
Court of Appeal decision earlier this month that found possession and
use of marijuana doesn't create a serious or substantial risk of harm.

Two Vancouver area marijuana activists - David Malmo-Levine and Randy
Caine - had argued if there is little harm to using marijuana, it
shouldn't be illegal.  They said Canada's marijuana prohibition law,
introduced in 1923, violated their Charter rights.

In a dissenting judgment, B.C. Appeal Court Justice Jo-Anne Prowse
found the provisions of the Narcotic Control Act prohibiting marijuana
possession did violate Section 7 rights of the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms.

But the 2 - 1 majority decided not to strike down the law pertaining
to the non-medical use of marijuana, noting that such matters are best
left to Parliament.

So far, 37 people in Canada - 14 are members of the B.C. Compassion
Club -have received exemptions by Health Canada to use marijuana for
medicinal pruposes.

The government has also issued a request for proposals to grow
marijuana to supply medicinal pot users.

"We'd like to get the club an exemption," said Conroy, who acts as the
club's legal counsel.  He is trying to convince the government that
stronger marijuana is better for people with immune system problems
because they have to smoke less.
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