Pubdate: Tue, 24 Jul 2012
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2012 The Record
Author: Jeff Hicks
Bookmark: (Smith, Ted)


CAMBRIDGE - Ted Smith sat under a shade tree across from his old high 
school and lit up a joint.

An abandoned future appeared in the wisps of smoke as the 43-year-old 
cannabis crusader and hemp historian gazed through the haze drifting 
across Dando Avenue.

Was that really him 25 years ago?

The valedictorian of Galt Collegiate Institute's Class of 1987?

Chess club captain? Rugby team captain? Math and accounting whiz 
ready to ride the forever-rising tide of Reaganomics into unlimited 
entrepreneurial vistas?

Yes, that was Ted.

So eager to embark an excellent adventure into an Alex P. Keaton life 
that - happily, he would say - went up in smoke.

"I was going to become a chartered accountant," he said.

That life wasn't in the books for a kid raised in the farming 
community of Monkton, near Milverton, before his family settled on 
the Galt-side outskirts of Hespeler.

 From Monkton to Cambridge to Victoria, B.C.

 From aspiring accountant to activist to author.

Those are journeys worth reflecting on.

So, on Tuesday morning, Smith paused outside Galt Collegiate for a 
relaxing puff during his tour to promote his Hempology 101 book, 17 
years in the making, with Southern Ontario stops this week in 
Kitchener, London, Toronto and Cambridge.

Above him, roofers stripped the old shingles from the school as they 
prepared to put a new top on a 160-year-old high school.

Galt Collegiate prepared Smith for an activist life, too. He just 
never suspected it on graduation night in 1987 - seven years before 
he was drawn west by the natural beauty of B.C. and introduced to 
hempology at a seminar in Vancouver.

"This school is a wonderful combination of people and space," Smith said.

"There's something about the architecture that's very impressive and 
makes you feel like you are part of something important."

Something that makes you feel sturdy and immovable. You can stand 
tall like those school towers and withstand all the storms the 
decades can muster.

On Tuesday, Smith sat in the grass beside his Vancouver Island 
girlfriend Gayle Quin, a customer of his Victoria-based Cannabis 
Buyer's Club of Canada. The club has provided cannabis products to 
people suffering with disabilities and diseases since 1996.

It has also been repeatedly raided by police for breaking various 
federal cannabis laws. Smith says he has also come under scrutiny 
from Revenue Canada, looking for money owed. Smith, a Wilfrid Laurier 
University grad, seems undaunted.

This is just another scrum he'll tackle with the rugby intensity he 
admires so. He says there is a bigger goal here - to help people 
benefit from cannabis.

"In university, I started taking philosophy courses and realized 
making money wasn't the most important thing in the world." Smith said.

Health is more important, he has learned.

His father, Warren, who suffered with heart problems, died five years ago.

Recently, Gayle lost a breast to cancer.

The cannabis products - including edible goodies from cookies to hemp 
milk - help her cope. One day, she hopes to be able to legally grow 
it in her garden.

"Right beside my tomato plants," she said.

Smith and Gayle have been together six years. He called her 
Sweetheart as he sat cross-legged in his white The Reefer Man T-shirt 
and shorts.

The man once known as "Acid-Head Ted" during his mushroom and hash 
dealing days at Laurier, sees the emancipation of cannabis and hemp 
providers as the key to using the whole plant to solve modern 
problems from health to fuel to clothing.

Ted, who will be at Forbes Park in Hespeler on Friday afternoon at 4 
p.m., has always had a knack for transformation.

His mom named him Leon. But he was a little prankster as a boy, just 
like his Great Uncle Ted. Leon was out. Ted the Trickster was 
unleashed on the world.

At Galt, he was everyone's pal. Geeks. Metalheads. Preppies.

"I was a party animal," he said.

The tie and carnation he wore as valedictorian so long ago, like his 
Hespeler minor hockey jersey, seem like tokens from another life.

But the memories play like the cheeriest scenes from a John Hughes movie:

Playing David Letterman at a school assembly and interviewing a 
teacher and a student portraying pothead comedians Cheech & Chong.

The time he held a pig for a contest-losing teacher to smooch on the snout.

Good times, like playing the Grinch in the Christmas pageant, that 
had little to do with his first toke at 16 or his last drink 16 years ago.

But on an October night in 1987, the Tassie Hall crowd waited for the 
valedictorian to speak. The words echo through 25 years into the ears 
of a man who likes to run 10K marathons wearing a 12-foot-high pot 
leaf costume.

"We are the young leaders of an entirely different world," Smith told 
his classmates.

"If we follow our hearts, I'm positive nothing will go wrong."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom