Ted Smith

Publishing a newspaper printed on trees goes against any of the most important reasons I became involved in cannabis activism 16 years ago. When I first arrived on the west coast of Vancouver Island in fall of 1994, I was stunned by what I saw. It was not the beauty of the Clayquoet Sound that struck me, but the mountains that appeared scraped clean of trees and soil. During university I began writing books, thinking I would eventually have a career as a writer but never considered where the paper was coming from.

Months later, I went to my first Hempology 101 meeting in Vancouver. Coming from seven generations of farmers on both sides of my family in Southern Ontario, I felt a duty to inform the public about “Reefer Madness.” It was not long before I decided to write a textbook for Hempology 101. One day, members of my family will grow some of the hemp that my book is printed upon.

Unfortunately, there are no large-scale hemp fibre processing facilities in Canada, despite being legal to grow since 1998. Waiting for Canadian-made hemp paper to publish this newspaper, or the textbook, is not something I am been willing to do any longer.

One of the main reasons we turned what was essentially the newsletter of the Cannabis Buyers Clubs of Canada into a newspaper, was the threat of mandatory minimum jail sentences for growing as few as six plants, making hashish, or making cookies. After Cannabis Culture stopped printing a few years ago the cannabis movement in Canada was left without a publication focused upon medical cannabis, politics, and law reform in this country. Instead of waiting for a profit-motivated Canadian publication to appear that was more interested in bud shots than activism, we decided to take a big leap ahead with this newspaper.

Another goal has been to share our story. In over 15 years, the International Hempology 101 Society has organized over 2,000 cannabis rallies, board meetings, lectures, parties, conventions, and Reach for the Pot game shows. After starting the CBC of C in a van with a pager and a pamphlet in Jan. 1996, we have about 3,600 patients, over 30 cannabis food and skin products, and a great deal of support, in Victoria.

When our bakery was raided in Dec. 2009, we suddenly had the means, motive and opportunity to print a newspaper. Though the internet has definitely empowered groups like ours with the ability to share information, document activities, and build relationships, it is a very competitive environment and it is not easy to get your message to people who do not seek you out in the first place. This newspaper has allowed us to update our members, patients of other clubs, customers of head shops, and other interested members of the public about details concerning important court proceedings, political developments, and cannabis products. While this information is often already available online long before we print it here, it is our aim to provide readers with interesting insights and perspectives that inspire them to become more involved.

The recently elected majority Conservative government is prepared to wage war against the cannabis community. We intend upon using this newspaper to fight back. Encouraging people to write comments to Health Canada regarding proposed changes to the MMAR, and become involved in other protests against these amendments, is a perfect example of why this newspaper was created.

But now we need you help. There are only a few weeks between printing 10,000 copies of this newspaper and the last day that Health Canada will accept comments, on July 31. Though we will be shipping copies across the country to medical clubs, and some stores, we need help making sure as many copies as possible are handed out immediately. It would be a shame to have the majority of these papers sitting around for a couple of months when the time to flood Health Canada with letters is over very soon.

For those that whant to keep more informed about rallies and other campaigns, the internet facilitates the organization of protests far more efficiently than a quarterly publication ever could. There are only a handful of active webpages that have much focus on Canadian cannabis activities, including medpot, Cannabis Culture, Treating Yourself, and ours.

We have about eight webpages, but without a doubt our forums are my favourite. That is where we post current news, document activities, post interesting things we have found online, archive society minutes, and comment on cannabis affairs. For those who join, we also have a chat room we call the Magic Bus where Hempologists talk about news, weather, and politics.

Whether it is distributing the newspaper, helping others write letters, joining online forums, speaking out at church, making signs and organizing protests, we need your help now more than ever. While the world is inching closer towards drug law reforms and society is becoming more accepting of the herb, our current government is preparing to clamp down on cannabis growers. Every voice in opposition of their plans matters. Every letter in protest of their plans matters. Every person standing listening at a public rally matters. Justice will not come without civil, measured resistance.

Please take the time to look at the proposed changes to the MMAR Program and send in your comments.