Pubdate: Fri, 11 Aug 2006
Source: Kootenay Western Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Kootenay Western Star
Author: Duncan Kinney


A marijuana plant on a mock-up of the ark of the covenant carried by two 
men, one dressed in rough cotton robes with a wreath of marijuana leaves 
around his neck.

They were accompanied by 150 placard waving protesters as they paraded up 
and down Baker Street in Nelson Saturday, to applause and honks from passersby.

The protest was organized in part by Holy Smoke culture shop co-owner Paul 
DeFelice.  He was arrested July 15 by Nelson City Police for controlled 
substance possession and trafficking charges.

"The police gave us word that there was going to be even more arrests, so 
that's one of the reasons we thought we would quickly get a rally together 
to let people know that the conservative crackdown is on," DeFelice 
said.  "We just want to make the public aware, get some public support and, 
hopefully, put some pressure on politicians."

The rally had two rationales behind its formation he added.

"It's two pronged, it's the conservative crackdown and the police 
priorities.  The police still have discretion and they still can prioritize 
what they go after, and we figure as long as there are unsolved violent 
crimes, assaults, and robberies, you know crimes with victims, they should 
probably spend their time doing that rather than chasing down people like us."

The march garnered a positive reaction from traffic and pedestrians, some 
waving, others honking and some joining in.

(continued on page 4)

Crowd supports pot rally

"It was great how much support we got, how many people honked on the 
street, how many people waved.  I think it's important that the police see 
that, see that support in the community and that it's not going to go away 
and people don't want it to go away,"said Christian Saint Pierre, Nelson 
resident and protester.

Police chief Dan Maluta received a different reaction from some Nelson 

"The feedback I received was that most of the public was chagrinned by the 
fact that it was going on and couldn't wait for it to end."

Sgt. Bank, the officer who arrested DeFelice, promised more arrests through 
the media shortly after DeFelice's arrest.

According to Maluta, they are waiting for the federal Crown prosecutor to 
get back to them.

"He didn't promise a crackdown.  The work's already been done, now we're 
just waiting to do the mop-up."

"We're waiting for the department of justice to process the warrants and 
then we will be making further arrests and doing further investigation."

The investigation is looking not only into Holy Smoke but several licensed 
premises and a dial-a-dope operation.

Maluta also explained why a pot plant could be marched up and down Nelson's 
city street without any police interference.

"It was negligible...the law doesn't deal in trifles, he added.

"A group of people parading a single marijuana plant isn't worth our 
attention; the people we are targeting are drug dealers.  Our biggest 
concern was that public safety was ensured, he explained.

"We do observe in a free and democratic society the individual's right to 
protest, to demonstrate or assemble within tolerable limits and this was 
within tolerable limits."
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