Pubdate: Fri, 23 Aug 2002
Source: Nelson Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Nelson Daily News
Author: Darren Davidson


Local marijuana activist says Nelsonite Ian Hunter, The High Priest of Pot, 
rallied for "the freedom to do what we want with our bodies and minds."

A local marijuana activist and business owner says the pro-pot movement has 
lost "a beautiful mind," following the death of Nelson resident Ian Hunter 
last week.

"He brought all the cannabis arguments into the forefront," says Dustin 
Cantwell, co-owner of the Holy Smoke Culture Shop.

Cantwell says Hunter was "a good friend and mentor and a guide for the 

Investigators say it appears Hunter drowned.  The accident happened 
sometime between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday evening on the West Arm, 
near Troop Beach.  Hunter's body was recovered Thursday night. An autopsy 
is being conducted to determine the exact cause of death.

Hunter moved to Nelson two years ago.  He and Cantwell co-hosted a radio 
show called Sane of the Cosmos on Kootenay Co-op Radio. The pair hosted 
their last show exactly one week before the accident.

Cantwell and Hunter first met in 1991 at a pot protest on the steps of the 
Victoria legislature.  The pair became friends a few years later, after 
Hunter opened Victoria's Sacred Herb smoke shop.  He went on to co-found 
Hemp B.C. and Cannabis Canada magazine, now Cannabis Culture with 
oft-quoted grass proponent Marc Emery.  Hunter also started the West 
Kootenay chapter of the Valhalla Institute, an organization that studies 
and promotes the use of shamanic and entheogenic plants.

Cantwell says Hunter, who had lived in Nelson for the past few years, based 
his defense of marijuana use on the right to religious freedom and the 
"freedom to do what we want with our minds and our bodies."

"He brought intelligent, time-honored ceremony and ritual to the smoking of 

Cantwell says Hunter was a inspiration in his decision to open the Holy 
Smoke with partners Paul DeFelice and Alan Middlemiss in 1996.

After being busted for growing three plants in the Sacred Herb, Hunter took 
his cannabis crusade all the way to the Supreme Court, but lost.

Cantwell says while Hunter celebrated a number of great achievements - he 
became known as "The High Priest of Pot" - his success in lobbying for 
changes to marijuana laws was minimal.

"There's very little success at times on the legislative front," says the 
31-year-old Cantwell.

"The courts are the laws of men, and I think Ian was bound by higher laws."

A memorial for Hunter will be held at the Valhalla Institute, at Three Mile 
on Sunday.  Doors open at 1:08 p.m., the ceremony starts at 2:42 p.m.  The 
event is a potluck.  Everyone is asked to bring a candle.
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