Interview with Canadian Medical Marijuana Activist Peter Young 2/20/98

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On February 19, ten Canadian activists held a press conference announcing their plans to open Cannabis Buyers' Clubs (CBC's) across Canada, to dispense medicinal marijuana to patients in need. In an effort to openly challenge Canada's prohibition of the medicinal use of marijuana, the activists made a very public showing of explaining why the CBC's needed to be opened, where they were going to be opened, and how they will operate.

Longtime Canadian marijuana activist Chris Clay http://www.hempnation.com told The Week Online, "A nation-wide survey recently found 83% of Canadians support medical marijuana, and politicians are suddenly jumping on the bandwagon. Any police intervention would make for a tremendous amount of bad press, and the clubs would continue to operate anyway." The Week Online interviewed one of the Ontario activists, Pete Young, of the Organic Traveler hemp store in London, Ontario, on his thoughts on medical marijuana and becoming an activist.

WOL: How did you get involved in all this? How did you first become active?

Pete Young: I was a cultivator/breeder in the states for a few years before I came to London for school (photography with a major in digital imaging). While I was there, I hooked up with Chris Clay, who was the proprietor of Great Canadian Hemporium/Hemp Nation, the first cannabis shop in Canada.

WOL: What first sparked your interest in this area?

Pete Young: I had a friend who was run over by a car when he was a teenager (crushed pelvis and lower spin damage). He was using Marijuana to help control the massive pain. He was eventually busted for growing 4-6 plants in his closet. At the time, he was a legal morphine junky for 8 to 11 years, and was using marijuana to wean off of narcotics. He got a doctor's note to show to the judge, but the charges were only reduced, NOT dropped, and he was put back on morphine. Last year he finally became immune to the morphine, and his doctor was forced to place him on LEGAL HEROIN.

After I saw what the legal drugs were doing to him and he realized what he was turning into, he decided to leave town and move to place where he could grow his own medicine. Now this guy had to leave his family (mother, sisters and brothers) behind just so he could lead a respectable life and not have to look at a junky facing death every morning when he looked in the mirror. This pissed me off. And I decided to get into the fight.

WOL: The group of ten of you are all pretty young. What makes a young individual decide to open up a single-medicine apothecary for sick people? Pete Young: As far as focusing on one medicine, it carries so many helpful, healing properties we need go no further. As far as being to young, you are never too young to care. You don't have to start up a Buyer's Club yourself, but you can help an existing one or help in other ways. For instance, Lynn Harichy, a medical marijuana patient who will be going to court in April to challenge medical marijuana prohibition on Constitutional grounds, needs to raise $5,000 Canadian dollars to fly in expert witnesses for her case. Obviously not everyone can become activists to the level that some of us have, but just about everyone can send a few dollars every now and then to help the fights that are already going on. See how easy it is?

[To make a donation to Lynn Harichy's legal fight for medical marijuana, see details at end of article.)

WOL: Has your age been an obstacle at all, what are the advantages? Do you think there are a lot more young people out there that are becoming active like you?

Pete Young: There are advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are I can relate to a wide spectrum of people of different ages. The disadvantage is not so much my age, though the older generation still sees anyone who believes in marijuana and is under 50 a drug smokin' hippy, but more my looks. Longer hair, tye-dyed shirt, facial hair. I'm seen as just another pot-head.

WOL: How many clubs are being started by your group?

Pete Young: For now 3-4 and within the next 2-3 months another 4-5. WOL: One of the toughest problems facing CBC's is the supply problem. How are you dealing with this?

Pete Young: I will be hitting up all the local growers to donate or give discount medical prices. For this they will receive a receipt in case they get busted -- this should help them in court. Plus if they are growing solely for the clubs we will help with legal fees through a legal defense fund we will be putting together.

WOL: How linked are the new CBC's going to be? Are you going to share resources, money, information etc.?

Pete Young: Only information, all of the clubs will be privately owned, patients will be transferred so they will not have to travel with an illegal substance.

WOL: When will medical marijuana become available legally in Canada, some say that these actions will bring about change very soon. What is your prediction?

Pete Young: I'm hopeful that legal changes will come within the year.

WOL: Will CBC's be kept in existence after medical marijuana is made legally available, or are they a temporary stopgap?

Pete Young: I couldn't answer that one, I guess it will be up to the Government. If they are going to put it into the hospitals and pharmacies, where it belongs, then we may not be needed. But until then we'll be here.

To make donations to Lynn Harichy's defense fund contact: Prof. Alan Young, York University, Osgoode Hall Law, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, CANADA, (416) 736-5595.

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Issue #30, 2/20/98 Medical Marijuana Support Fund Established | Gingrich Calls Clinton's New Drug Strategy "The Definition of Failure," Pledges GOP Legislative Package | World Health Organization Suppresses Report Finding Marijuana Safer than Alcohol and Tobacco | Needle Exchange Volunteer Arrested in New Jersey: Letters are needed! | Protesting Penn State Professor Julian Heicklen, Four Others to be Charged -- High School Student Suspended for Three Days Without Hearing | Ex-Michigan Gov: Drug Lifer Law Inhumane | Medical Marijuana Activists to Open Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Across Eastern Canada | Interview with Canadian Medical Marijuana Activist Peter Young | Classmates of UK Home Secretary Straw's Son Hand Him Petition for Legalization of Cannabis | Job Opportunity: Drug Policy Foundation seeks Public Policy Director | Editorial: Bill, Newt, and the coming battle over the war
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