Pubdate: Wed, 19 Oct 2005
Source: Esquimalt News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Esquimalt News
Author: Brennan Clarke
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Ted Smith's trial on charges of distributing marijuana-laced cookies
at a pro-pot rally five years ago took three times as long as the
sentence he received.

The 36-year-old marijuana activist was sentenced to one day in jail
Friday at the end of a three-day trial stemming from charges that were
laid in November, 2000, when he arrived at a rally outside the Greater
Victoria Public Library's main branch with more than 18 kilograms of
chocolate chip cookies containing cannabis.

About a dozen supporters of Smith who attended Friday's hearing broke
out in broad smiles as they filed out of the courtroom.

"It's the best you can get after a conviction," observed Smith's
defence lawyer, Robert Moore-Stewart. "It's exactly the sentence I
asked for."

A jury convicted Smith on Thursday following a three-day

During sentencing arguments, Moore-Stewart told the judge that an
absolute discharge would be the most appropriate decision, but
acknowledged that such leniency is not allowed under the Criminal Code
of Canada and instead asked for a one-day sentence

Crown counsel Richard Fowler had requested a sentence in the range of
nine to 12 months to be served in the community, along with 75 hours
of community service, arguing that Smith planned to distribute a
product that could have "had a broad appeal to younger people" and was
"thumbing his nose at the authorities and in fact the law itself."

An article in the Victoria News written by reporter Matt Ramsay
alerted Victoria police to Smith's plan to distribute the cookies.
Smith was arrested as he was unloading the stash of pot cookies from a
vehicle near the library.

Ramsay, now a reporter with the Vancouver Province, testified at the
trial earlier in the week.

But Justice R. Dean Wilson noted that Smith's freedom has been
curtailed by interim release conditions for almost five years, which
should serve as sufficient deterrent to Smith and others.

Justice Wilson also noted that Smith has been involved in community
service "since he was a boy" and questioned the relevance of adding
community service to the sentence.

"I sentence you to one day in jail, and that's today," Wilson

In a brief statement to the court. Smith said he meant well but
admitted he took his activism too far.

"I meant absolutely no harm to anyone. My intent was to make society a
better place through my actions.

"I do recognize I made some mistakes and I will not make those
mistakes ever again. I have no intention of so publicly flouting the
law. Society has changed a lot in the last five years and I am no
longer so driven as I was five years ago."

Smith was processed and released from custody by the end of

One week before Smith's arrest in the cookie incident, he was charged
with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking after he
shared five joints with supporters who attended a rally at the
University of Victoria.

He was convicted in February 2002, and given a $500 fine. That case is
also under appeal

Smith helped found the Victoria Cannabis Buyer's Club, an organization
that provides medical marijuana to people with complex and often
painful medical conditions.

Since his run-ins with the law in 2002, Smith has been forced to stay
at arm's length from the operation.

In the interim, police have made several unsuccessful attempts to
arrest and prosecute the club's operators.

Last week's trial was subject to numerous delays as Smith awaited a
constitutional ruling on whether marijuana is harmful enough to be
declared illegal. A nine-member panel of Supreme Court of Canada
judges upheld the law by a 6-3 vote.

Moore-Stewart said there's a good chance Smith will

"Ted's a bit of a crusader, so he might very well appeal."
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