Pubdate: Thu, 04 Mar 2010
Source: Martlet (CN BC Edu)
Copyright: 2010 Martlet Publishing Society
Author: Bruce Dean
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


The smell of sweet skunk and sounds of cannabis  coughing were 
tell-tale clues for the location of the  11th-annual Victoria 
Cannabis Convention.

Many members of Victoria's cannabis community gathered  this past 
Sunday, Feb. 28, in UVic's David Strong  Building, to celebrate and 
educate people about  marijuana's benefits.

The event was hosted by Hempology 101, a non-profit  society that 
looks to educate the public on marijuana's  medicinal, industrial, 
environmental and social  benefits. The society gathered a who's-who 
of marijuana  activists to speak on issues confronting the marijuana 
community, marijuana's history and new opportunities  and products 
from this plant.

The list of speakers included lawyers, police and advocates.

Bill Finley from Victoria's Hemp & Company spoke of  "the beauty of 
this plant, from an environmental  perspective."

His company views their role beyond retail sales to  include 
environmental education and excellence, right  down to the 
construction of their stores. They  recognize that their product, 
hemp, is a sustainable  source of fabric, food, bio-fuel, paper and 
natural  beauty products, all grown without toxic chemicals.

Finley, like other speakers, talked about "the many  misconceptions 
that prevent hemp from realizing its  potential" and the reefer 
madness that surrounds  marijuana as medication and a social drug.

Ted Smith, president of Victoria's Hempology chapter,  sees the 
marijuana advocates' biggest threat as "the  Conservatives' agenda to 
throw pot growers in jail with  whatever C-crap [Bill C-15] they come 
up with next."

Smith is also concerned about "the complete lack of  [marijuana] 
research being done in Canada." Currently,  the only federally funded 
marijuana research is  directed toward schizophrenia.aE/

The conference wasn't about re-hashing the issues  marijuana 
activists and enthusiasts face, but focused  more on education and 
building a sense of community.

Smith felt that the convention was a success.

"If one person decides they are going to do more out of  this day, we 
have done real well," he said. "[Cannabis  conventions, with people] 
just getting together and  speaking has not only informed people, but 
has made  them feel like they are part of a greater community of 
people that are interested in more than just partying  and getting 
high -- to me, that's really powerful and  can have a great impact."

Government and Bill C-15

The Conservative Crime Bill C-15 has been put on hold  until 
Parliament resumes. But just how tough Prime  Minister Stephen Harper 
plans to be remains to be seen.

The Liberal party has not been very vocal on the issue  either. 
However, on his last visit to Victoria where he  spoke to students at 
UVic, Liberal leader Micheal  Ignatieff said he would not legalize marijuana.

The NDP's Libbie Davies -- MP for Vancouver East -- and  Victoria MP 
Denise Savoie have both publically  commented on the new legislation.

"There's a lot of information, both in the U.S. and in  Canada, that 
shows that mandatory minimum sentencing  regimes for drug offences 
are ineffective," Davies told  media. "It's based on the U.S.'s war 
on drugs, which  has been a complete failure."

Savoie has similar feelings on the issue.

"The current federal government's approach to drug  policy is poorly 
targeted, attacks symptoms while  ignoring root causes and misses 
creative economic  opportunities," said Savoie. "This U.S.-styled war 
on  drugs is simplistic, knee-jerk and counter-productive:  we 
already spend 73 per cent of our drug strategy on  enforcement, yet 
drug use continues to rise."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom