Copyright © 1997. All Rights Reserved.
By David Faren
One of Canada's most important challenges to our cannabis laws completed its first hurdle this summer.
Chris Clay, a London, Ontario retailer, was arrested in December 1996 for selling marijuana seeds and plants, and is challenging the laws on constitutional grounds. On August 14, an Ontario judge ruled that "easing of restrictions on the possession and use of marijuana is within the domain of the legislative branch of government."
Clay's legal council, Alan Young, has been preparing for the case for over 10 years and will be handling the appeal, which is expected to be heard in the spring of 1998. Clay and Young are pleased with the results so far. "It was a very important decision, since the judge agreed with our expert witnesses on all the key points," says Clay. "Judge McCart has given us lots of ammunition for the appeal," he continued, explaining that the expense of calling expert witnesses need not be repeated.
Clay runs a Web site where he disseminates information on the subject of marijuana and the laws pertaining to it. He has also been successfully using the site to solicit financial support for his legal challenge. He does this by selling "Victory Bonds" which will bring the bearer one-quarter ounce of marijuana once prohibition is lifted.
According to Clay, McCart stated that Parliament should immediately make allowances for medical marijuana. This statement comes at a time when, according to several Web sites (HempBC, Hempnation, Islandnet), many underground "marijuana pharmacies" have been supplying the drug to bona fide cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and arthritis patients to help ease their suffering. Contact with these organizations is through word of mouth.
Since Clay's case began, the Narcotics Control Act was scrapped in favor of The Controlled Substances Act. Under this new legislation, possession of under 30 grams of marijuana will only yield a fine and no criminal record.
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