pot activist found guilty of trafficking says he helps the sick
Thursday, January 20, 2005
VICTORIA (CP) -- A medical marijuana activist who lit up several
joints at a pro-marijuana rally at the University of Victoria
in November 2000 was found guilty of trafficking Thursday and
now faces a maximum of five years in jail.
Leon Edward (Ted) Smith, 35, who runs a medical marijuana
buyers club out of a downtown Victoria bookstore, argued in B.C.
provincial court that he is the victim of discrimination because
he is a pot smoker and a political activist.
He told the court police and the Crown violated his rights
to equality guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and
But provincial court judge Judith Kay disagreed with Smith's
arguments, ruling that his rights and freedoms under the Constitution
were not violated.
"I find that none of Smith's freedoms have been infringed," she
said. "He was arrested not for his thoughts but for his actions."
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 2.
At the university rally, Smith could have expressed his opinions
on the medical benefits of marijuana, but he chose to hand out
joints, Kay said.
Smith spoke to about 40 people on the benefits of marijuana
and his objections to the law prohibiting it. He then lit up
several joints and passed them out to the crowd.
After the rally, plain-clothes officers who had stood in the
crowd moved in and arrested Smith, a former Victoria mayoral
candidate and Ontario rugby player.
"This was not a capricious, despotic or unlawful arrest," Kay
Smith was almost daring police to arrest him when he lit up
the marijuana, she said.
"He was very publicly flouting the law," said Kay. "I find
that his behaviour was intended to provoke a reaction from the
Smith failed to present convincing evidence during the trial
that he required marijuana to treat his own sports injuries,
alcoholism or depression, she said. The judge also rejected his
arguments that he should be allowed to smoke pot as matter of
freedom of choice.
"A society that extended constitutional protection to any
and all lifestyles would be ungovernable," Kay said. "There is
no free standing right to smoke marijuana for recreational purposes."
Outside court, Smith said he will try to appeal his conviction.
He said he was willing to fight Canada's marijuana laws on
behalf of the many sick people who use marijuana to ease their
Smith's buyers' club provides pot, including marijuana peanut
butter cookies, to people who produce verification they are ill
and could benefit from its relaxing and calming properties.
"I have no regrets about challenging this law," Smith said. "This
has to be, as far as I'm concerned, the most illogical, irrational
group of laws that this country has."
Earlier this month, Smith received a conditional discharge
after he was charged with trafficking when police seized cookies
and massage oil from his buyer's club that contained marijuana
Marijuana trafficking charges against Smith relating to a
police raid on his bookstore in 2002 were stayed earlier this
© Canadian Press 2005