Source:   Victoria Times-Colonist
Contact:   February 16, 1998


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

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

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

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.