Pubdate: Fri, 02 May 2008
Source: Kootenay Western Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Kootenay Western Star
Author: Elliot Robins


Paul DeFelice and Alan Middlemiss of the Holy Smoke Culture Shop,
along with Kelsey Stratas and Akka Annis are in court in Nelson this
week fighting cannabis charges.

The four plan on using a common-law defence of Necessity and will try
to prove they prevented more harm than they caused by selling cannabis
in a controlled setting.

"We don't believe that prohibition has been effective in controlling
cannabis or any other drug for that matter," DeFelice said.

"In fact, there is overwhelming evidence from every parliamentary
committee ever struck that prohibition causes more harm than it prevents.

"We do not want to see young people coming into contact with hard
drugs and unscrupulous people whether it's in a public garden or in

On Monday, the court heard testimony from DeFilice and four

"We explained the day-to-day operations of the shop and our reasons
and philosophies behind how we were trying to eliminate the street
level dealers - that was our goal," he said.

DeFilice wasn't expecting to testify, but the court was short on
expert testimony and expected witnesses. Consequently, there were no
court sessions Tuesday and Wednesday. The trial was scheduled to run
Monday to Friday.

In addition to trying to eliminate street level dealers, the Holy
Smoke crew supported the idea that people use cannabis to stay off of
hard drugs.

"It's just a matter of fact that when people have easy access to
cannabis there's a lot lower incidence of use of harder substances,"
DeFilice said.

"That was part of our mission, to reduce harm that way as

The Holy Smoke Culture Shop opened in October 1996 and has been
involved in numerous legal battles regarding marijuana since then.

DeFilice said if the Holy Smoke crew lose the case, the maximum
sentence could be five years less a day although a three-month
sentence would be more likely.

The trial wraps up May 2.
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