Source: Victoria Times-Colonist Contact: February 16, 1998 POT STORE REVIEW IS REFEER MADNESS Judge said store owner man of good moral character The attempt by the Victoria police to have city council lift Ian Hunter's business licence for his Sacred Herb - The Hemp Store makes as much sense as stripping Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati of his Olympic gold medal. Victoria police confirmed last week that because of Hunter's conviction last September on marijuana charges, his business licence "falls into the parameters of a person who should not have a business licence" under city bylaws. Hunter was indeed convicted and fined $500 in B.C. Supreme Court for possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking (hundreds of seeds he sold from his store), cultivation of marijuana (plants he grew in the window of his shop) and possession of magic mushrooms. He is appealing the minimal fine. But before city council takes the rare step of lifting his licence, it should stop and take a look at the circumstances surrounding his case. Hunter, Victoria's best-known marijuana advocate, virtually begged authorities to arrest him on pot charges - openly flouting laws which he believes to be out of touch with society's current mores - as the first step in his effort to see marijuana decriminalized. During his court battle, he urged jurors to exercise their political will and find him not guilty, thus sending a message to Ottawa that marijuana laws are archaic. When convicted, he said he was disappointed but that he had lost only a battle, not a war, and planned to fight on - appealing the decision to B.C. Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, if necessary. It is interesting to note what Supreme Court Justice Montague Drake said at sentencing after observing Hunter, who represented himself, throughout the trial. Calling Hunter a man of "good moral character," he said he couldn't quarrel with Hunter's motives because any citizen is perfectly at liberty to do what he or she can do to change the law. Hunter, contacted after the Olympic reversal which allowed Rebagliati to keep his gold medal, called the athlete's ordeal a victory and hoped it would put the issue of decriminalization of marijuana on the "front burner of public discussion." That fits Hunter's very public crusade, which is no reason to yank a business licence.