Pubdate: Thu, 29 Aug 2002
Source: Victoria News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Victoria News
Author: Don Descoteau


It's been a struggle for both of Victoria's so-called "compassion clubs" to 
achieve even a modicum of respect from law enforcement agencies for the 
concept of supplying marijuana to terminally ill patients.

But there were pioneers in that fight to alter public opinion. Among them 
was Ian Hunter, who ran the Sacred Herb hemp shop for a number of years in 
Victoria before moving to Nelson, B.C.

Hunter, known for wearing a coat made of hemp as a Victoria mayoral 
candidate in 1996, died Aug. 14 in a boating accident on Kootenay Lake near 

His untimely death at age 41 has left many in Victoria contemplating his 
passion for his activities.

"I would say he definitely pushed a lot of boundaries to make his point," 
says Sarah-Hannah Bedard, who worked at the store with Hunter for four 
years and then took it over when he moved to Nelson. "He was definitely a 
rebel with a cause."

Hunter was more focused on the legalization of pot than on using marijuana 
for medical purposes, an issue that has gained more public awareness in the 
past couple of years.

Bedard recalls that the efforts of Hunter and the people around him helped 
bring about the legalization of hemp in Canada in the late 1990s. Hemp can 
be either a separate, non-narcotic plant or the male part of the marijuana 

Victoria resident Kay Lines, who also ran for mayor in 1996, sympathized 
with Hunter during that campaign. Largely, she says, because they shared 
certain views on reducing or eliminating the penalties associated with 
using marijuana.

"He understood quite clearly that it was a sort of medicine," says Lines, 
who helped lobby for less strict prison sentences for marijuana offences 
when she lived in Montreal in the 1960s and '70s. "Myself, I was more 
intere sted in justice for young people."

She also liked that Hunter self-funded his own campaign, unlike some 
candidates who were supported by trade unions or business people.

A wake held at the home of Hunter's long-time friend Felix Reuben last 
Thursday was well-attended, says Bedard. At one point, she says, people 
held hands for 42 seconds of silence, in memory of the 4:20 p.m. 
"smoke-ins" Hunter and his contemporaries used to hold in Beacon Hill Park.

A public memorial service is expected to be held for Hunter in the park, 
but the date was not confirmed by the Victoria News deadline. To confirm 
time and date, call the Sacred Herb at 384-0659.
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