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Cannabis Law in Canada

Author: Russell Bennett, Cannabis Lawyer, cannabislaw.ca

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Cannabis Law in Canada features long-form interviews between Toronto cannabis lawyer Russell Bennett and cannabis legal and industry experts, who reveal the real-world impacts of the former prohibition and current legalization, including the federal Cannabis Act, other federal cannabis-related laws, various provincial cannabis distribution laws and municipal by-laws that make up the complex legal fabric of what it means to be legalized in Canada.
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Pete Young is a master grower from the old school.Originally from Long Island, New York, Pete began his journey as a cannabis grower at the age of 15 with a few plants on the rooftop of his friend's apartment to avoid having to buy cannabis from the street.When he moved to London, Ontario to study photography, he developed his talent for growing weed and provided seeds to Chris Clay's store in London, Ontario at the Great Canadian Hemporium. After Chris was arrested, he and his team changed the store's name to Hemp Nation, where Pete earned the title of Minister of Agriculture. After Chris Clay’s trial, Pete took over the store and rebranded it as the Organic Traveler with the slogan "There’s no need to panic, it’s organic!"Pete also founded the London Compassion Society, dedicated to providing high quality cannabis as medicine to people at reduced rates.On the road to legalization, Pete became a master grower with Indiva, a Licensed Producer in Canada. On Legalization Day (October 17, 2018), Pete and Chris rang the bell opening the stock exchange.You can pick up a copy of Pete's autobiography, The High Road: A Pot Grower's Journey from the Black Market to the Stock Market on Amazon.I hope you enjoy my conversation with Pete, one of the original growers who has tremendous respect for the plant.
Chris Clay is ahead by a century.I use the song title from the Tragically Hip on purpose. In the early 1990s, university student Chris Clay had a vision: cannabis must be legal. Chris wasn't alone, obviously. But his plan to achieve his vision was unparalleled: Chris opened Canada's first Hemp Store.Initially a booth at a London, Ontario flea market, Chris moved his table of hemp products and information, with the help of a government grant, to a London storefront that Chris called the Great Canadian Hemporium. Eventually, he changed the name to Hemp Nation. With a team of other 20-somethings, including Pete Young (who is the next featured CLIC podcast interviewee!) Chris sold hemp clothing, hemp personal hygiene products and hemp seeds. But Chris wanted to do something else: he wanted to help people grow their own. Influenced by Alexander Sumach and others, Chris began selling cannabis seeds, and did so for two years, never once attracting law enforcement attention. Until he did.After two raids by London Police, the second of which was for selling plant cuttings, and charges that could have given Chris four life sentences, Chris formally launched a constitutional challenge against the Narcotic Control Act (which became the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act during his case). Law Professor Alan Young (who was our first CLIC podcast interview) and criminal lawyer Paul Burstein (who is now The Honourable Justice Burstein) assembled a giant roster of expert witnesses to testify as to the harmless effects of cannabis and to dispel all the myths associated with cannabis. This myth-busting team went all the way to the Supreme Court (please see the case here: R. v. Clay, 2003 SCC 75 (CanLII), [2003] 3 SCR 735). Incidentally, Chris's case is explained in detail in the Preface to my book, Canada's Cannabis Act: Annotation and Commentary.Chris' case laid the scientific foundation for why cannabis must be legal, and gave our elected officials the comfort against the myths and racist rhetoric. Chris, Alan and Paul deserve the Order of Canada for lifting Canada out of the dark ages of an unnecessary and very harmful prohibition.On the day of legalization, Chris rang the bell opening the stock exchange. And post-legalization, Chris brought Hemp Nation back to life as Hemp Nation Outfitters, now a store on Vancouver Island. Check it out!I hope you enjoy listening to this interview as much as I did recording it.Engineering of this podcast was done by Jeremy Benning.Music was created and performed by Albert Wong.
Alan Young is the best.I am proud to have the Cannabis Law in Canada Podcast kick-off with a great interview with Professor Emeritus Alan Young, a retired law professor and lawyer. I met Alan when shooting my documentary, STONED: Hemp Nation on Trial in 1996-1997. He allowed me and my cinematographer, Jeremy Benning, access to the defence strategy room, defence witnesses and provided several engaging interviews with me. He is still as smart, funny and insightful as ever.Alan received his BA from York University, his LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School, and his LLM from Harvard University prior to be called to the bar of Ontario. Alan taught criminal law at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University for over 30 years, while simultaneously challenging the state's authority to criminalize consensual activity, which included constitutional challenges to Canada's gambling, obscenity, bawdy-house and drug laws. For nearly two decades, Alan provided free legal services to those whose alternative lifestyles brought them into conflict with the law. He represented countless numbers of people suffering from AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis who were charged after using marijuana for medicinal purposes, and as a result of these cases, the Federal Government was compelled to create a regulatory program authorizing the use of medical cannabis. Alan was also responsible for an early constitutional challenge to the possession of marijuana offence (R v. Clay, [2002] SCJ No 88 (SCC)), which fundamentally changed the public’s perception of the harms associated with cannabis use. I was fortunate enough to film the story of this case and present it to Canada with a premier of STONED on CBC Newsworld and following on City-tv in 1998.Canadian Lawyer magazine recognized the contributions Professor Young has made to the law and named him one of the “Top 25 Most Influential” in the justice system and legal profession in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. He is the author of Justice Defiled: Perverts, Potheads, Serial Killers and Lawyers and a playwright.My conversation with Alan was so much fun and enlightening. I hope you enjoy Alan as much as I do.Engineering of this podcast is by Jeremy Benning.Music was created and performed by Albert Wong.
In this foundational episode, host and Toronto cannabis lawyer Russell Bennett takes you on a journey from Stoned, his first documentary film that he produced and directed right after he became a lawyer to how he became a cannabis lawyer and founded his own law firm Cannabis Law, and the reasons why he made this podcast.Engineering of this podcast is by Jeremy Benning.Music was created and performed by Albert Wong.
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