HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Ministers Guilty Of Trafficking 'Sacrament'
Pubdate: Fri, 30 Nov 2007
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Barbara Brown, Staff writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Spiritual or Sacramental)


Hamilton's high priest of pot, who turns 75 next month, faces a
possible jail sentence after being convicted of selling the holy
sacrament to an undercover police officer.

A Superior Court jury deliberated eight hours Wednesday night before
finding Walter Tucker and fellow minister of pot, Michael Baldasaro,
58, guilty of all five charges. They will be sentenced Jan. 24.

Tucker was convicted of three counts of trafficking in marijuana under
the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the total quantity amounting
to a few grams and worth about $40. Baldasaro was found guilty on two
counts of trafficking, involving 2.5 grams, or about $30 worth of pot.

The charges were laid after a Hamilton police officer, posing as a
woman from Winnipeg who was new to the city and down on her luck,
visited the church's Barton Street East headquarters in May 2003.

On several occasions that month and in early 2004, she bought small
quantities of marijuana, which church members refer to as the Tree of
Life and smoke as their sacrament.

Tucker, who represented himself and gave his own closing address to
the jury, is the son of the late Walter Adam Tucker, a Canadian judge
who was appointed to the Queen's Bench for Saskatchewan in 1963 and
who also led the Liberal party for Saskatchewan, serving as opposition

Tucker and Baldasaro established the Church of the Universe in 1969 at
a former quarry in Puslinch, which they called Clearwater Abbey. Since
that time, they have ceaselessly advocated for the legalization and
recognition of marijuana as a socially beneficial and health-giving

For this reason, said Tucker, it was morally unacceptable for him or
Baldasaro to plead guilty to the charges with the hope of avoiding

"My father taught me well," said Tucker. "He taught me that you never,
ever, ever give up. Because what's happening to us could be raining
down on thousands of people below us and we have to keep fighting for
what we believe in."

Lawyer Peter Boushy said, "My client, the Rev. Brother Michael
Baldasaro, has instructed me to appeal various trial and pretrial
rulings of his Honour and to do so with full vim and the utmost vigour."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin