By Ted Smith
Over the last 20 years the International Hempology 101 Society has accomplished many feats and organized some fantastic events. Over the next few weeks I will share some of the highlights, and lowlights, of the fun, outrageous and entertaining Weds nights we have had while on our mission to educate the public about cannabis. Of course, our mandate has been legalization by education but having fun while doing that is very important.
When I moved to Victoria the first thing I started organizing was weekly meetings on Weds nights at 7 pm. This was in part so I could attend the Tuesday night Hempology 101 meetings that were still going on in Vancouver at the time. This gave me the chance to go back and forth between the two cities, bringing fresh news to the capital city each week, that is until the Vancouver meetings stopped happening.
Living in a van with no budget meant I was forced to use open public spaces for Hempology 101 events. Luckily Victoria has the nicest weather of any city in the country. While some meetings were certainly smaller because of the rain, snow and wind, there were always people ready, willing and able to get out and proudly join our circle to at least smoke some joints while waving our cannabis flags.
After briefly looking around town, I decided to pick a small park downtown known as the Whale Wall, after a beautiful mural it is beside, partly because it is so central and partly because so many people are busted smoking and/or selling there. At 7pm on Weds Sept 6, 1995, the first Hempology 101 meeting was held there. I did not have much more than a flag, a couple of books, some pamphlets and a couple of joints.
Ian Hunter from the Sacred Herb came with me to help. Soon after I set out a display on the flag he called a young man over to join us. Jose is still a very good friend and loved what I was doing so much he came to many of the Weds night meetings for years. The location was not great in the wind, though, so after a few weeks it was decided to move the meetings around.
It did not take long before we migrated over to the downtown library where it is protected from the rain and somewhat from the wind. We used the library for years. I would sit on a garbage can talking about what was happening in the movement, give history lessons, discuss other possible events or activities, show off new paraphenalia and smoking joints. The security let us do this for years, in part because we had a strict rule about no alcohol and we left the place cleaner than when we arrived.
These weekly meetings continued every single Weds night for over 12 years. Some were small in the middle of winter hovered around a building, while others had close to 200 advocates working together to show the local authorities how little respect we have for the prohibition of cannabis. These meetings were held in just about every possible place in downtown Victoria, from Beacon Hill Park to the Inner Harbour, Market Square to the Crystal Pool park, the courthouse to the Ministry of Health, City Hall to the Legislature. We smoked a quarter pound of roach joints in a parking lot one night and gave out clones on the front steps of a church on another.
It was a sad day when I had to cancel the weekly meetings but it was getting out of control. Some idiots decided that if I could smoke cannabis in public in a large group without fear of the police, then they could drink at the meetings and that there was nothing I could do about it. When I tried to stop this, I got punched in the head so I held the guy until the police came to take him away. That was the final straw. While the weekly meetings had been a great deal of fun, it was a big stress hosting a huge open party every week and it was obviously getting out of control. I had to stop the meetings before someone really got hurt or something else stupid happened.
However, Hempology 101 was far from over when the Weds night meetings were cancelled. The Hempology 101 club at the University of Victoria had grown into the largest student club on campus. With hundred of students coming to the 420 circles on every Weds during the school year, it made a lot more sense to concentrate our efforts there.
We also decided to retain many of our annual events, including the march from city hall to the legislature that we will be holding tonight. Other events that have lasted over time include a Halloweed costume contest at the courthouse, International Medical Marijuana Day, Cannabis Day, and of course April 20. For a few years we continued to play the REACH FOR THE POT tournament in the spring and early summer, along with several cannabis contests, but I stopped doing that last year when my lover, Gayle Quin, became very sick with cancer, forcing me to withdraw from several of my activities.
Over the past 20 years I have organized or attended about 3,800 cannabis rallies, conventions, meetings, press conferences or other events. While not all of these were Hempology 101 activities, it would take a long time to tell of the stories. Follow my blogs over the next few weeks to hear some of the details of the most outrageous stunts I have done over these years.