HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Civic Election Gone To Pot
Pubdate: Mon, 31 Oct 2005
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Vancouver Courier
Author: Naoibh O'Connor-Staff writer
Bookmark: (Don Briere)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


The alleged pot supplier to the Da Kine Smoke and Beverage Shop on 
Commercial Drive, which sold marijuana over the counter, is one of 36 
candidates battling for 10 seats on city council in the November civic 

Don Briere, who's running as an independent, faces trial next spring on 
charges related to a massive police raid on the caf, in September 2004. 
Briere's partner, Carol Gwilt, ran the caf,.

Briere is founder of the Canadian Sanctuary Society, registered in Victoria 
as a distributor of medical marijuana, which supplied Da Kine.

"I'm very confident the charges [against me] will be thrown out," said 
Briere, although he concedes if he wins a council seat he assumes he would 
have to resign if convicted.

The New Westminster resident is a longtime marijuana activist who considers 
cannabis laws unjust. He was charged with marijuana cultivation in 1999 and 
served a four-year sentence in the federal prison system. He was 
characterized as a drug kingpin and one of B.C.'s biggest marijuana dealers.

Briere has run in two provincial elections-once in 2001 and again in 2005 
in the Surrey-Tynehead riding when he became the first inmate to seek 
political office in B.C.

In that election, Briere only captured 231 votes, which put him in fifth place.

The 54-year-old has five children and seven grandchildren. His eldest son 
Shane died of a heroin overdose almost 12 years ago. Briere has worked in 
construction and owned the night club Rocky's in Coquitlam in the early 1980s.

He backs the Four Pillars approach to drug policy, and argues tax dollars 
would be better spent on health care rather than police budgets.

"If you end the drug war and treat the people, you get rid of the 
homelessness because they spend all their time and money looking for 
drugs," he said, adding, "If a large portion of the [police budget] is 
going towards the policing of the drug war, it takes away from the rest of 
society, which is schools and hospitals."

Briere, who said he's funded research into uses and benefits of industrial 
hemp, added he's seeking office in a bid to end the drug war. "I'd be happy 
just to be minding my own business," he said. "I don't want publicity, I 
don't need the publicity. I'm a business person not a politician. I feel 
forced into this because I don't want my children and my grandchildren to 
go through this drug war in the society that we're living in. It's really 
disgusting. I feel I have to run as a candidate."

Since the Da Kine raid, Briere said his financial status has been "a little 
less than broke."

He's running his campaign on a few hundred dollars donated by supporters 
"and a lot of footwork, a lot of talking and a lot of handshaking."

"If every single person who was going to vote knew the truth about [pot], I 
would have a high chance of getting in," he said. He added "the truth" is 
that pot is far less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco and is not a 
"gateway" to hard drugs.
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