Pubdate: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Source: Nanaimo Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 Nanaimo Daily News
Author: Danielle Bell


Education, not a 'pot-smoking festival,' is focus of inuagural event,
say organizers

Nanaimo will host its first Cannabis Convention at Vancouver Island
University on Sunday but organizers say it is not a marijuana-smoking

The convention is an educational and networking event with a heavy
focus on medical marijuana issues, say organizers, who stress that
people will be discouraged from smoking pot on campus.

VIU communications were not immediately available for comment on
Tuesday but a spokeswoman said in an e-mail that the convention is a
student-led and organized event. Police, who are also aware of the
event and are working with VIU security, said they will attend if
complaints occur.

The president of the VIU hempology 101 club, who did not want his name
used for fear his children would suffer because of his activism, said
the non-smoking event aims to help educate people, especially those
who may be debating pot use for medical reasons. The campus club
launched in September and has around 70 members.

"I don't want people to think it's a stoner event," said the club
president, who is also a medical marijuana user.

"I hope people get some kind of awareness and change their minds. It's
an incredible medical, incredible industrial product."

Similar events draw more than 100 people in Victoria, which celebrated
its 11th annual cannabis convention.

Ted Smith, who teaches a Hempology 101 course and is the founder of
the Cannabis Buyer's Club of Victoria, which provides pot to sick
people, helped organize the Nanaimo convention and said it is part of
a move to expand to other universities. The University of Victoria
hemp club, the largest on its campus, holds weekly smoking sessions,
said Smith.

"We're not a bunch of roving maniacs," said Smith on

"On one hand, the general public can come and learn what's happening.
For an activist like myself, it's sort of like a magnet for people
working in this field."

The list of planned speakers in Nanaimo include medical cannabis
patients advocate Michelle Rainey; author Chris Bennet, who has penned
connections between the use of cannabis and the Bible, Victoria
policeman David Bratzer, who is also a member of Law Enforcement
Against Prohibition, and Smith.

Organizers say everyone with an open mind is welcome but the
convention may be especially useful to medical marijuana users,
politicians, doctors and people who work in law enforcement.

The cannabis convention at VIU is scheduled on Sunday, from noon until
4 p.m. in building 200, room 203. It is free and the public is welcome. 
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