Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (Canada)
Pubdate: 25 June 1998
Contact:  Richard Watts


Marijuana advocate sidesteps loss of licence by selling store to two

Marijuana defender Ian Hunter hung a new business licence in the
Sacred Herb Wednesday - neatly side-stepping an attempt by the police
to shut him down.

Hunter put the new licence up in the store at 561 Johnson St. where he
has sold marijuana paraphernalia and hemp products since 1995. And he
vowed to keep on battling to have marijuana decriminalized.

"The store is getting bigger and stronger and I'm going to be more
active and political," said Hunter.

The 37-year-old hemp advocate pulled a tidy little regulatory zigzag
this week that has kept The Sacred Herb - The Hemp Store out of reach
of the police who were trying to shut him down.

Earlier this month Victoria city councillors narrowly voted to pull
Hunter's business licence. Police requested the unusual move claiming
the store was a front for illegal activities.

Hunter responded by selling the unlicenced store for $1 to a shell
company called Total Hemp Corp. The the company was sold to two
employees of the store for $2. New owners of Total Hemp Corp. then
applied to city hall for a licence.

City hall issued the licence.

Acting Mayor Jane Lunt, who was one of the councillors who voted to
yank Hunter's licence, said she was glad to hear the store was
remaining open.

Lunt said Victoria needs a store advocating the industrial use of hemp
and environmental protection. The city just doesn't need Hunter's
blend of retail and activism. "He was just so in your face. I told him
he was going about it the wrong way," she said.

"Now he's free to go off and do his own thing," said

Hunter has waged a long battle to overturn the marijuana laws.  Last
year, he openly grew marijuana in his store to get himself charged so
he could fight the laws in court.

He lost.  The jury convicted Hunter of three minor marijuana offences
and the judge fined him $500.  He is now vowing to take his conviction
to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Sarah Bedard, one of the new store owners, said the shop won't be
quite as openly a front for Hunter's political aims.  But it will
continue to promote the use of hemp and support the preservation of
the environment.

"We are just not going to be as radical a character as Ian," said

- ---
Checked-by: (trikydik)