HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot Grower Wins Big Battle For Medicinal Users
Pubdate: Wed, 28 Jun 2000
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2000 The Province
Contact:  200 Granville Street, Ste. #1, Vancouver, BC V6C 3N3 Canada
Fax: (604) 605-2323
Page A12
Author: Andy Ivens


Judge Calls Bill Small's Supplies To Ailing People "Humane And Altruistic"

A B.C. Supreme Court judge recognized medicinal-marijuana use yesterday in 
his decision to grant an absolute discharge to an unselfish grower who 
pleaded guilty to cultivating pot.

Bill Small was a director of the B.C. Compassion Club when police raided 
his Roberts Creek home in September 1998 and found more than 200 marijuana 

He was growing various strains of marijuana solely for club members.

The plants the police found were dead and earmarked for the compost heap 
because  they were of no use to the club - a registered non-profit society 
that supplies about 1,1000 cancer, AIDS and multiple-sclerosis patients 
with the strains of marijuana that ease their suffering.

Some 85 grams of the drug found in a baggie was destined for club use.

"I am satisfied that your motives for the commission of this offence were 
humane and altruistic, to fulfill what you believed was a pressing need to 
assist others who needed marijuana for medicinal purposes," said Justice 
Randall Wong.

His decision means Small - who retired from a successful but stressful 
career as a real estate magnate six years ago because of life-threatening 
ulcers - has no criminal record.

Lawyer John Conroy argued, Small, 40, should receive a discharge, in light 
of a recent ruling by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

A former director of the Canadian Red Cross, Small is now a bluegrass 
musician who makes his living largely in the U.S. Justice Wong noted a 
criminal record would likely have prevented Small from crossing the border 
to work.

"This is freedom," said a grateful Small. "It's freedom for the Compassion 
Club to do what's necessary for people who require this drug."

He said Justice Wong's ruling sends a positive message to people who want 
to stand up for their beliefs.

"It says , if you're doing the right thing for the right reasons, the 
courts will look at the reality of it instead of Reefer Madness hype.

The courts are listening to the truth .

..It's a human-rights issue."

Justice Wong observed federal Health Minister Allan Rock has recently 
issued a protocol for trials to obtain a future supply of medical marijuana.

"Realistically, no legal supply for marijuana for permissable medical use 
is likely to be available in the forseeable future," said the judge.

"For those who do require marijuana for medicinal purposes, their need is 
immediate and pressing."

Wong cited a B.C. Appeal Court decision earlier this month, in which the 
dissenting judge in a 2-1 ruling found the law against marijuana possession 
was out of step with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because of the 
minimal harm caused by the drug.

The appeal judges, in the combined cases of Malmo-Levine and Caine, found 
marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, but the majority ruled 
the potential harm the drug could cause allows Parliament to designate it a 
danger to society and deal with it as it sees fit.

Wong predicted "the Malmo-Levine and Caine cases will likely go to the 
Supreme Court of Canada to set future parameters of the criminal law to 
suppress perceived social evil."  But that won't happen, says lawyer 
Conroy, unless an extra stash of cash is found, because he's too busy to 
work on the case in his spare time.

Co-campaigner has her own fight to wage

Among Bill Small's supporters at his sentencing yesterday was Renee 
Danielle Boje, an American caught up in her country's war on drugs because 
of her involvement with the medicinal use of marijuana.

Boje who is fighting extradition to the U.S., has returned to her West 
Coast residence after a visit to Ottawa, where she lobbied MPs to drop 
Canada's ban on the medicinal use of marijuana.

The 30-year old artist faces a mandatory 10-year jail term if she is found 
guilty of cultivating marijuana.  Her crime was watering and moving around 
plants at the Bel Air mansion of medicinal marijuana activist Todd 
McCormick.  In Canada, the same activity would warrant only a fine or an 
extremely light sentence.

Justice Minister Anne McLellan is being asked to stop Boje's extradition on 
compassionate grounds.

"I didn't meet with the minister but I managed to get two letters to her 
assistant - and a statue of [the Hindu god] Shiva," said Boje.

She came home to disheartening news: McCormick's publisher, Peter 
McWilliams, had died at his Los Angeles home, where he was serving under 
house-arrest a sentence for conspiracy to traffic in marijuana.

Boje was to illustrate McCormick's planned book evaluating the 
effectiveness of varying strains of marijuana in alleviating severe ailments.

McCormick is appealing a five-year U.S. federal sentence for growing pot on 
the grounds he was not allowed to enter the defence that it is legal under 
California law to grow and use the plant for medicinal purposes.

McCormick contracted a rare form of bone cancer at age two.

"He can't be doing well in jail," said Boje's lawyer, John Conroy.
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