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Source: Victoria Times Colonist (B.C.)
Pubdate: Sept. 26, 1997
Author: Kim Westad (TC Staff)

Jury convicts hemp advocate on drug charges

Hemp advocate Ian Hunter was found guilty as charged Thursday night of three minor drug charges, but vows to take his fight to decriminalize marijuana to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

"I'm more than disappointed, but I knew going into this that it would be along process," said Hunter. 

A B.C.  Supreme Court jury convicted him of possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking the charge arose from selling marijuana seeds at the store marijuana cultivation and possession of magic mushrooms. 

It's the first time in Canada anyone has been found guilty of marijuana trafficking for simply having seeds.  Hunter said that is a disastrous ruling for those Canadian farmers who are counting on growing hemp as the crop of the future. 

The 11 jurors began deliberating Thursday just after 3 p.m.  and gave their verdict near 9 p.m. 

Hunter, dressed headtotoe in hemp clothing, doesn't view the verdict as society's refusal to listen to his arguments.  "The jury was given a strict definition of the law and what they were asked to decide.  I know there's a lot of support in society for my position," said Hunter. 

The 37yearold purposely put a marijuana plant in the front window of his business, The Sacred Herb Hemp Store, last summer.  He wanted to be charged criminally so he could take his case before a jury of his peers. 

In court, he represented himself and tried to weave his way through two types of defences.  On the on hand, Hunter had technical arguments focusing on the Crown not proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt.  One of those was that viable marijuana seeds do not constitute marijuana.  "It's like saying possession of potatoes is illegal, because they can be used to make vodka." He also said he has no criminal intent to traffick or cultivate marijuana. 

Prosecutor David Mulroney said Hunter has "grown impatient with democracy" and was asking the jury to ignore the law.  Every citizen has a right to believe that laws should be changed, Mulroney said.  But the way to do that is to lobby Parliament and speak out, not to ask a jury to disregard laws that are to be applied equally for everyone. 

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