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Pot advocates 'bummed out'

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VANCOUVER -- The Supreme Court of Canada's decision to uphold the federal
government's right to outlaw marijuana upset pot advocates who believed
history's tide was on their side. "I was dreaming of a green Christmas, but
they grinched out on us," said David Malmo-Levine of Vancouver, one of three
Canadians who challenged the constitutionality of pot possession laws before
the high court. "Their hearts are two sizes too small."

Marijuana activists gathered at the Vancouver headquarters of Pot-TV,
wrapping their sorrows in a thick blanket of pot smoke.

Malmo-Levine, who argued his own case before the Supreme Court, said he
wasn't bothered his possession conviction was upheld, but said he felt
betrayed by the judges.

"What's worse is that the laws are still on the books," he said. "What we
were really trying to do with the constitutional challenge was to get the
laws off the books."

The ruling will only fuel the market for illegally grown pot and the dangers
that industry represents, such as illegally wired grow-ops and proliferation
of guns, said Malmo-Levine.

Crime dropped in countries such as Holland that allow regulated sale of
marijuana, he said.

The Liberal government's proposed legislation to decriminalize possession of
small amounts of pot will not help, Malmo-Levine said.

"That version is worse than nothing at all because it will involve more
people . . . getting fines and going to jail because of not paying fines,"
he said.

Malmo-Levine said he was "bummed out, man."

Marijuana Party president Marc Emery, a former Londoner who held a
cross-country pot-smoking protest this year, said he's worried about the
future of new Prime Minister Paul Martin's pledge to reintroduce the
proposed legislation.

The bill's provisions to toughen penalties for those who grow pot "affects a
quarter-million people in British Columbia and could potentially double the
prison population within a few short years," Emory said.

Philippe Luca, with the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, said the court
had an opportunity to issue a ruling "based on science and reason."

"I'm disappointed that instead we're going to be spending another $340
million or so this year on maintaining cannabis prohibition and
criminalizing another 50,000 Canadians for behaviour that's neither harmful
to themselves or society."

He said the black market will continue to flourish, which makes it harder to
keep pot out of the hands of children.

Jim Wood, owner of Hemp NB's Cannabis Cafe in Saint John, N.B., whose
members can buy pot for medicinal purposes, said the ruling didn't concern

"Really it doesn't change anything. It's only a ruling on recreational use
and there's really nothing in there to do with medicinal marijuana."

Randy Caine of Langley, B.C., also involved in the constitutional challenge,
said he was pleased the issue reached the high court. Public attitudes
toward pot use have softened dramatically, he said. "I think we've all sort
of come out of the closet."

Pubdate: Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Contact: letters@lfpress.com
Website: The London Free Press
Author: Canadian Press