HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html This Man Loves Herb More Than You
Pubdate: Thu, 15 Dec 2005
Source: See Magazine (CN AB)
Copyright: 2005 SEE Magazine
Author: Fish Griwkowsky
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


Marijuana Martyr Malmo-Levine Argues the Virtues of Legalization

Edmonton-reared David Malmo-Levine was our keynote pot activist in 
the '90s, writing for The Gateway, organizing wild rallies and 
handing me lit joints on television as police stood at the edge of 
Gazebo Park, staring. It was a funny time--no 1960s or anything, but 
still one when tens of thousands of shivering students would march on 
the Legislature. Gone is Malmo-Levine's floppy hat, same with the 
five-foot prop joint. He's evolved into a history professor and lives 
on the West Coast. Graciously, he comes bearing gifts.

[See Magazine] Tell us what you've been doing in the last decade?

I moved to Van in '95. I started working for Hemp BC and wrote 
articles for Cannabis Culture, opened up a pot-dealing service called 
the "Harm Reduction Club" which lasted about five months before the 
police shut it down. I spent the next few years studying herbal 
medicine, constitutional law, and organic farming. I started a show 
called High Society for Our legal challenge finally made 
it to the Supreme Court in 2003. I argued that the proper use of 
cannabis was harmless, and that the Constitution protected harmless 
people. The Supreme Court agreed that proper use was harmless but 
then went on to say that there was no "harm principle" found in the 
Constitution, and that our community was similar to pimps, cannibals, 
animal abusers, and incestuous people--not quite harmful, not quite 
harmless--better left to Parliament to decide. Since then, I've 
opened up "The Vancouver School of Drugwar History and Organic Cultivation."

[See Magazine] Compare Edmonton and Vancouver on a street level, and 
from the "Man's" point-of-view.

Well, the "Man" in Van has got about a thousand more lectures on the 
utility and safety-margin of cannabis, and you don't generally 
encounter pot-hating cops or politicians. In fact, City Hall is 
pro-legalization. We also have a "supervised injection site." 
Edmonton, I hear, is still pretty harsh in comparison.

[See Magazine] I'm not for outright legalization, but I know cops use 
possession as a reason to hassle people. Besides that I think we have 
it good. I fear marijuana production would become centralized and 
corporate, furiously taxed, as booze and smokes are.

Your fear of re-legalization is common, but based on some mistaken 
assumptions. You assume it won't get worse--but the Liberals' plan is 
to give everyone fines for possession, throw those who can't pay in 
jail and force "repeat offenders" to choose between jail and 
treatment. Both big parties are talking about increased penalties for 
growers and dealers--mandatory minimums. There's no limit to how bad 
the drug war could become. As for corporate monopoly, Prairie Plant 
Systems has the med-pot market all to itself, and GW Pharmaceuticals 
and Bayer have no competition for their Sativex product. 
Re-legalization would allow ma and pa growers to replace the $180 
billion we waste on pills every year in North America, so even with 
tax the "cottage industry" would still have lots of room for growth. 
I haven't even mentioned tourism, export, and ending the 
over-regulation of industrial hemp for much needed eco-fuel and 
immunity-boosting foods.

[See Magazine] I admit it would be rad to be able to have living, 
pot-leafy curtains and not live in fear of being busted. The cats 
would love it. But, again, how do you think legalized pot would 
escape the same production and use restrictions of alcohol and tobacco?

My feeling is that if the re-legalization community is strong enough 
to fight prohibition, it's also strong enough to oppose 
over-regulation. I always thought the "caffeine" model of 
distribution--with perhaps organic standards on cultivation and a 
parental-permission policy for teen users--would be enough to address 
all concerns. Basically, the activists now have to explain to "on the 
fence" Canadians what cannabis is good for and why it doesn't deserve 
the stigma. It's good for stress, depression, fatigue, loss of 
appetite, lack of sleep/motivation/focus, plus a bunch of medical 
necessity uses. 
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