Pubdate: Sunday, June 14, 1998
Source: Vancouver Province (Canada) 
Author: Barbara Mclintock, Staff Reporter


VICTORIA - The city's biggest marijuana advocate has lost his business
licence. City council voted 6-3 to pull Ian Hunter's licence for his
downtown store, The Sacred Herb. 

"This is war!" shrieked one of Hunter's supporters from the back of the
council chamber as Mayor Bob Cross cast the deciding vote. (A two-thirds
majority is required to deny a business licence.) Police had asked council
to review Hunter's business licence after he was convicted in B.C. Supreme
Court last year of three drug-related offences: Trafficking in marijuana
seeds, growing a marijuana plant in his store and possessing a small amount
of "magic mushrooms." 

Police said an undercover officer had also bought marijuana from one of
Hunter's employees in the store, though not from Hunter. Hunter was fined
$500. Police Chief Doug Richardson told council the department "feels
revocation (of the business licence) is necessary" because all the incidents
involved took place in the store itself. 

Hunter said the actions had all been "pure civil disobedience" aimed at
getting him charged so he could test Canada's marijuana laws in court. He
described himself as a minister in the Mission of Ecstasy church which uses
marijuana as a sacrament, and said the shop also served as headquarters for
the church. 

He said the shop had been described as "a little bubble of freedom and
tolerance in Victoria," and urged council not to become involved in
discriminatory and arbitrary action against that. But the majority of
council members said the criminal convictions were enough to yank the licence.

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Checked-by: Melodi Cornett