Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jan 2012
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Times Colonist
Author: Louise Dickson, Times Colonist


In March 2006, former Victoria mayor Alan Lowe wrote to Tony Clement, 
then federal health minister, asking him to immediately review 
Canada's medical marijuana regulations "to determine where 
improvements can be made to ensure a better quality of life for those 
Canadians in need of medical assistance."

The letter, written on behalf of Victoria city council, was entered as 
evidence Tuesday at the trial of Owen Smith, head baker for the 
Cannabis Buyers' Club of Canada (CBCC).

Smith, 29, has been charged with possession for the purpose of 
trafficking THC, one of the active ingredients in marijuana, and 
unlawful possession of marijuana on Dec. 3, 2009.

Smith has essentially admitted he used a View Street apartment as a 
commercial bakery, making pot cookies and other cannabis-based 
products for sale through the club. However, he is raising a 
constitutional challenge against Health Canada's marijuana access 
regulations and the validity of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

In the March 20, 2006, letter, Lowe told Clement the issue of public 
access had been raised at city council by a number of citizens who 
rely on marijuana to manage pain.

Although the previous federal government had endorsed the medicinal 
properties of cannabis, "adequate production and distribution channels 
do not appear to be in place," wrote Lowe. "In the absence of this 
infrastructure, many Canadians will continue to suffer the 
debilitating effects of their illnesses without the benefit of 
effective pain management techniques."

Four years earlier, on April 18, 2002, the city passed a resolution 
declaring that the federal laws regarding cannabis need to be changed, 
especially for people with incurable medical conditions. The city also 
proclaimed Nov. 15 International Medical Marijuana Day and encouraged 
everyone to act with tolerance, compassion and understanding toward 
people who need cannabis to relieve their pain.

The documents were entered by defence lawyer Kirk Tousaw during the 
testimony of Ted Smith, proprietor of the CBCC and no relation to the accused.

Ted Smith, 42, testified that when he moved to Victoria in September 
1995, he met a woman called Leslie at the Sacred Herb hemp shop. 
Leslie volunteered in the AIDS community in James Bay, making pot 
cookies, brownies and medical salves.

"When they ate the cookies, they'd put the weight back on . . . it 
made them want to live again."

Ted Smith decided he wanted to help people who were dying from cancer 
or suffering chronic pain. On April 1, 2001, he opened the club at 826 
Johnson St. Between 2001 and 2003, the club was raided a number of 
times, he testified.

Ted Smith was convicted of trafficking in resin, but the conviction 
was dropped on appeal. He was granted a stay of proceeding on another 
trafficking offence.

Tousaw entered a number of letters between Ted Smith and Health Canada 
into evidence. In the documents, Smith questions why Health Canada's 
marijuana access regulations only allow people authorized to use 
marijuana to possess it in dried form.

"My client was trying to get some understanding why the regulatory 
scheme would allow people to smoke dried marijuana versus what he 
perceived to be less harmful ways of getting cannabis into the body by 
eating or applying it topically," said Tousaw.

In 2006, a letter from a Health Canada official to Ted Smith says as 
long as the plant is dried first, any preparations made after that are 
acceptable. The statement was retracted by another official in 2008.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.