Monday, November 21, 2005

So where can you go

So, where can you go to get good weed in Vancouver?

Nowhere and anywhere.
You can get some famous BC Bud on pretty much any block in town but you always take many chances in doing that.  Marijuana is still illegal and unregulated.   There are enough pot smokers in this city to warrant liquor store sized bud depots but there are none.  Unregulated retail marijuana outlets exist but they do it covertly and at risk of persecution.    
The production, distribution and sale of cannabis consistently generate billions of dollars into the BC economy.   Police budgets and organized crime profits soar while funding to critical programs and services get cut.

While we wait for the federal government to act on implementing safer and saner drug policies, Vancouver and other British Columbia taxpayers are burdened by the substantial costs of investigating, arresting, prosecuting and jailing people for charges involving marijuana.    Marijuana prohibition has been found to be unsuccessful at reducing the use of marijuana and unsuccessful at reducing the supply of marijuana.  It has resulted in a climate in which the sale of marijuana takes place in a wholly unregulated manner.  Marijuana prohibition has been determined to cause significantly more harm to society than the use of the plant.

The only logical alternative to marijuana prohibition is to regulate the conditions under which cannabis sales occur in order to protect citizens from the adverse impacts of irresponsible cannabis distribution, storage, and use practices.   Regulations can be implemented through “Licensed cannabis retail establishments” -business establishments that have been licensed by the City – a step the City of Vancouver is ready to take and is urging the rest of Canada to take as well.  

From the Draft Plan - Preventing Harm from Psychoactive Substance Use, passed by Vancouver city council November 3rd, 2005:
THAT the Mayor on behalf of Council write to the Prime Minister, Government of Canada and the appropriate Ministers urging the Federal Government to consider the creation of a legal regulatory framework for cannabis that will enable municipalities and local health regions to develop comprehensive cannabis strategies that: promote public health objectives, include appropriate regulatory controls for cannabis related products, support the development of public education approaches to cannabis use and minimize the involvement of organized crime in the cannabis market. (Recommendation 23 – Preventing Harm from Psychoactive Substance Use)
Appropriate regulatory controls and performance standards are necessary from the beginning to establish a consistent and fair approach to licensing establishments wishing to sell cannabis.  The draft regulatory plan detailed here addresses such factors as security, odor control, and accessibility to minors.  

Regulations for Retail Cannabis Establishments

Establishments shall be at least five hundred (500) feet from a public elementary, middle, or high school.

Establishments shall be located in appropriate commercial districts within the city and subject to the same license requirements and land use restrictions as other lawful businesses in the city.

Establishments shall meet the following operational and safety standards for the duration of the use:
  1. Distribution to Minors Prohibited.  Establishments and each member thereof, shall not sell, barter, give away, or otherwise distribute cannabis to any minor.  Minor being under 18 years of age.

  1. Good Conduct.  It is unlawful for any person or association operating an establishment to permit any breach of peace therein or any disturbance of public order or decorum by any tumultuous, riotous, or disorderly conduct.

  1. No Liquor Licenses.  Establishments shall not hold or maintain a license from the Province of British Columbia to sell alcoholic beverages.

  1. No Illegal Drugs.  Establishments shall not permit the use or sale of any illegal substances and shall prominently post a notice that no illegal drug use or sales are permitted in the establishment.

  2. Security.  Establishments shall provide adequate security on the premises, including lighting and alarms, to insure the safety of persons and to help protect the premises from theft.

  1. Contact Information.  Establishments shall provide city officials and all neighbors located within 100 feet of the establishment with the name, phone number and facsimile number of (1) an on-site community relations staff person to whom one can provide notice if there are operating problems associated with the establishment; and, (2) a staff person that is available during the hours that the establishment is not open.

  1. Odors.  Establishments should have sufficient ventilation and storage facilities in order to minimize any odor outside the establishment.

  1. Accessibility and Accommodations. Establishments shall be wheelchair accessible and disability accommodations shall be provided upon request.

  1. Smoking Bylaw.  Establishments shall comply with all municipal, federal and provincial regulations respecting the smoking of tobacco products.  

  1. No Advertising.  Establishments shall not advertise the fact that cannabis is sold and/or used on the premises.


Friday, October 14, 2005

vote for don



Thursday, October 06, 2005

Even Parliament knew!

From the House Debates Feb.19, 2003!

Medical Marijuana Franchises

Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, if you would like something really different to do this weekend, why not come out to Vancouver and learn how to start your own medical marijuana franchise?

If hon. members need more information, just tune to Channel 2 in Vancouver and watch for the advertisement from the Kine Smoke Shop and the Canadian Sanctuary Society. They are sponsoring two seminars on February 21 and 22 to help get grow-ops up and running.

To add to the excitement, they might get to meet Mr. Briere, who started the Sanctuary Society and who was sentenced in 2001 to four years in jail for cultivating and trafficking in marijuana, money laundering, possessing a prohibited weapon and unlawful storage of ammunition.

The only thing that is not yet clear is whether the present Minister of Industry is getting a percentage of revenues for making the business possible in the first place. I could not find any evidence of a campaign donation, but maybe a contribution in kind has long since gone up in smoke.

I wonder if they will be giving any samples this weekend. Can I count on seeing you there, Mr. Speaker?

The Speaker: I thank the hon. member for his kind invitation.

Hemp in Hungary

Don filmed and narrated this clip about the massive, centuries old Hemp industry taking place in Hungary. Don takes us on a tour of fields of both seed and fiber hemp crops, and to rope, fiber and seed processing mills.
Filmed in 1998, narrated in 2003. Lots of interesting facts throughout this video.

The Novemer Coalition

An important website to check out is The November Coalition please look at the faces and stories of some of the victims of the War on Drugs. These are real people doing real time. Every day that goes by more and more people count themselves among the victims.


This story first appeared on Cannabis Culture in December '04.

The Da Kine Café story has been done to death in the mainstream media since a swat team-style police raid shut it down in September: the alleged crimes, the statistics, the editorials, the court reports and the opinion pieces… it’s old news. What hasn’t been portrayed, however, are the actual players in this saga. Aside from what was published in the mainstream press what does anyone know about the woman who owned Da Kine or the man whose vision backed the project? This is a profile of those people, their philosophies and their lives together…


by Diane Claveau

Carol Gwilt and Don Briere have been together as a couple for about a year and a half. “I miss him terribly every day,” Carol says, and though reluctant to admit it, sitting in his jail cell at the N Fraser Pre-trial Centre in Port Coquitlam, Don feels the same.

Last spring, with Don’s support, Carol opened the Da Kine Smoke & Beverage Shops. It was a centre for cannabis activism in Vancouver, attracting pot crusaders from across the country and pot tourists from around the globe. Don and Carol were funding a pilot project television series at Da Kine. “We were funding quite a few things, all positive, above-board, getting-community-people-involved activism,” Carol explains.

Da Kine opened May 4/04, providing medicinal marijuana and functioning as any other business on Commercial Drive. An overzealous mainstream media pressured city hall and the local police for two weeks (both were tolerant of the cafe) Unwilling to let their non-story die, local reporters applied pressure on the attorney general’s office. September 9/04 balaclava-clad police officers stormed into Carol and Don’s dream - and shut it down.

Carol was released after 24 hours. She was re-arrested on a release order violation, about a week later and held for 32 days. She got out of jail on her birthday, Oct 18/04.

Several days after the Da Kine raid Don was arrested and charged with possession of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking. He’s been in custody for nearly 4 months and hasn’t seen the sun since he was locked up; his court appearances are by video from the pretrial centre. Don’s vision is, however, in no way tarnished by the closure of Da Kine or the jail time. It only strengthens his resolve, he vows in a recent phone interview.

Carol is currently out on bail awaiting three trials for her involvement but still holds on to the dream as stalwartly as her partner. Her business folded before her eyes while she was in jail. Now, there are people advising her to give up the vision of Da Kine. She’s being advised to get out of it and go do something else. “That’s bullshit.” Carol has no regrets. She believes the cause is a worthwhile one. To her, Da Kine is still very much alive.

They didn’t know each other in 1999 when Surrey RCMP raided and shut down Don’s pot business. Crown Counsel said he was running the largest grow operation they had ever seen in BC. He was sentenced, October 2001, to four years for pot cultivation, money laundering and on one weapons charge stemming from the unsafe storage of five guns and ammunition. He was released on full parole in June 2003.

Carol and Don’s first meeting was because she was looking for information on a business venture. “I met him just after he got out of jail,” Carol recalls. “I was running a hemp shop and looking into starting up my own compassion club group in my shop. Don’s name came up at that time; he was flogging this Da Kine thing - the medical franchises.” She remembers feeling very comfortable with him, right away.

They discussed her dream of a compassion club and his vision of a string of Da Kine cafes providing medical cannabis. Don founded the Canadian Sanctuary Society in August 2001. Carol was very interested in the medical aspect and Don had his franchise idea already so they started working toward that end, together.

Their relationship was strictly business at first. Carol smiles. “He talked about his kids and I thought he was married. I didn’t even know he wasn’t for a couple of months.” Eventually she invited Don to make pot cookies at her house. Carol insists that making canna cookies was not used as an excuse to get him over to her place. “Well, at the beginning of the night it wasn’t an excuse,” she admits, grinning, her cheeks flushed behind her hand over her face.

Since that night they’ve worked every day putting it together. “Our relationship has been mostly just fun. It’s the pot and the legalization issues that bond us and we have that commitment to it. Don is a fabulous organizer and leader,” Carol points out. “Before he went down in 1999 he had 80 employees and ran the whole thing - all in his head! He should be the CEO of a large corporation or something, not sitting in a jail cell.”

Carol chuckles at the idea of a love story. “Don’s not a romantic guy,” she warns.

“Well, ya, we’re kinda going out,” blonde-haired Don laughs nervously and blushes audibly over the telephone line. “I knew Carol was an advocate and a smoker. We made contact and smoked, talked and found we had a common goal.”

His take on the “cookies” incident was that someone needed to teach Carol how to make the budder before doing the baking. “I told her the proper way is to make budder first, then make the cookies.” Don says that’s why he went over to Carol’s place that evening. “We made the budder and then we made the cookies,” he pauses… “Then cooled them down…” he takes a deep breath.

“I’m not a romantic type of guy,” Don explains. “I don’t think along those lines, but,” he predicts, “we are going to get back together and go down the pot highway as a team and work together again.”

Living and working with a lover 24/7 often burdens a relationship but that was not the case with them. “There wasn’t really any stress,” Don notes, “it was one blended thing. We were so busy.” (Da Kine was open 7 days a week). “We were attracted to each other,” Don says quietly. “We have lots in common and we were going down the same road. I miss her smile. I miss her energy and her cute ways of doing things…” his voice, wistful again.

“I wouldn’t say it was stressful on our relationship,” Carol agrees. “We bonded more because we both had such a level of commitment that we knew we were doing right by each other even if we were pissing each other off for whatever particular reason. We had ups and downs like anybody else. In the end it’s all good.”

Sometimes Carol had trouble keeping up with Don. “He’s just so focused.” She would probably have slept a little more or taken an afternoon off sometimes. “It exhausted me but then I’d look at him, see what he’s been through, and think ‘I haven’t been through half of that,’ so I’d have to keep going. He’s sat in a jail cell; he’s lost everything. His family was destroyed by this. He’s lost millions,” she shakes her head.

As for his role in the pot movement, Carol believes, “Don is a National treasure and my own personal hero. I miss him dearly and pray for his health.”

As reported at the time, Don had a minor heart attack when he was arrested and went to jail via the hospital. The 53-year-old was not surprised by the incident. “It’s an ongoing condition. I have a blockage in my heart from a previous heart attack. Stressful situations cause tension and the heart constricts and you get chest pains. Luckily I had my nitro spray and came out of it okay.”

When Carol heard the news she rushed up to the hospital and found two armed guards standing outside the door of his room. “They were both looking the other way,” she recalls, and not to be thwarted, slipped into Don’s room unnoticed. They had just over a minute together before they were discovered “She somehow managed to find me,” Don remembers. “I was really happily amazed. It was a moment of true joy.” That was the last time they touched each other.

For the first few months Carol took the two-and-a-half-hour transit trip from downtown to the pretrial centre in Port Coquitlam to visit Don, “because the cops had my car. I look at Don as a victim of the drug war and I have to support him through this as well. I so look forward to seeing him; it’s the highlight of my week.”

“I know he’s doing a noble thing,” she continues, “he’s not doing it for greed, it’s all for the cause.” Carol isn’t in it for the money either; she doesn’t have a cent to show for her efforts at the cafe. All the cash went back into the business and toward funding pot activism at Da Kine.

Don apologizes for sniffling: “I have a cold; there’s one going around, it’s not very healthy at all. There’s a lot of stress in here. My health is deteriorating.” He feels he isn’t getting the diet or the exercise he needs for his heart condition and what he misses most is the fresh fruit and vegetables… “And I don’t mind a good hamburger once in a while.”

The food, however, isn’t the only thing on his mind. “I miss my family. I miss…” Don hesitates, “all the other people.” He pauses again, “and I miss Carol…” She can’t decide what she misses most about her partner. She calls him “Donny. He has beautiful blue eyes. I miss his voice, just everything about him. He’s worth waiting for, that’s for sure,” Carol says dreamily, “I miss him so much. He’s definitely worth waiting for.”

“I’m disgusted about what she’s going through,” Don says. “It’s an attack on all of us, on our liberties and on our human rights. I worry about her, her standard of living and everything.” At the same time he believes Carol is capable of dealing with the situation she finds herself in. “I think she’s strong mentally and physically. I think she can handle it – but I know it’s a tough deal for her.”

Carol believes cannabis users are not free, “when the police can come and just take peoples medicine. You have no recourse for that.” She quotes Bob Marley: “…Me don’t love fighting, but me don’t love wicked either… I guess I have a kinda war thing in me. But is better to die fighting for freedom than to be a prisoner all the days of your life….”

She faces three trials: A preliminary hearing date of November, 2005, has been set on a charge of benefiting from the proceeds of crime. That trial will be in front of a judge and jury. She faces a judge alone for her second trial date next November, for violating a release order, and will also face a judge and jury for the third trial, after a preliminary hearing set for July, 2005, on a joint charge with her store manager, a charge of possession of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking.

Carol tries to not worry about the possibility she will have to go back to jail if convicted. “I do look at it realistically and I probably will have to do time unless they legalize it. I think about people like Nelson Mandela [locked up for 27 years in a battle for human rights] and it wasn’t in a Canadian prison where you’re pretty safe.”

She remembers that when the police raided Da Kine the store was full of people, “There was no fight-back,” All the customers just sat down once they realized what was going on. Carol believes that one of the biggest obstacles of the cannabis movement is the mainstream’s perception of who drug users are, “and violence doesn’t win us points. People saw what happened at Da Kine and drew their own conclusions. We can’t fight it [the drug war] with violence. I want to portray that pot’s not the monstrous drug that they make it out to be.” Don agrees, “violence is never good.”

“I’m pushing for legalization in any form I can get it right now,” Carol says, “where people don’t go to jail for any crime having to do with cannabis. They can regulate it and tax it if they want to,” but she doesn’t want people to go to jail for having a little plant in the corner of their house. she predicts “it’ll become legal when they have it all figured out how to do it pharmaceutically so they can still exclude the organic people, (the weed) and hand people pills again.”

“People are duped by this decriminalization thing,” Carol points out. The current decrim proposal targets the growers and traffickers. “One thing that we tried to teach people when they came into Da Kine is that decriminalization is not legalization - and it does not mean that you get to keep your weed and smoke it - they’re still going to take it and they’re going to fine you.”

Carol realizes some people are content with the proposed change in the law because it will mean no criminal record for those caught smoking a joint. “But it’s more than that because the growers are going to get double time for it. Sure, you’re not going to have anything happen to you when you smoke it but what about the people you buy it from. People interchange the words ‘decriminalization’ and ‘legalization’ and they’re totally different things.”

Before Sept 16 [her second arrest], Carol’s world was working at Da Kine every day. Then it changed abruptly. The inmates at the Surrey Pretrial Centre knew who she was before her arrival; they saw what happened on the news. Carol was considered non-threatening and warmly greeted by the other women, most younger than her. They called her ‘Kingpin.’

When she got out of jail a month later her apartment had disappeared: weed, money, jewelry, personal stuff - all gone. The police have her computers, her car, cell phone, and money. “Right now I’m living from the hospitality of friends,” Carols says. Does she see herself as a victim of the drug war? She smirks, “I do now.” She recently found a minimum wage job, figuring that “finding a career is going to be difficult because of my impending doom.”

“I don’t know what drives me,” the 38-year-old muses. “I just know that people shouldn’t go to jail for this; people shouldn’t be punished for taking their medicine.” Carol recognizes that some of her drive comes from Don’s commitment to the movement. “We draw from each other because we both know there’s a lot at stake. He lost his son to heroin, that’s what drives him. He’s very, very driven,” she notes.

Don elaborates: “Eleven years ago I lost a son in this drug war and it broke my heart.” His son Shane overdosed on a high quality heroin. He believes drug addiction is a social issue, not a criminal issue, and it’s not only about marijuana for him - it’s about all drugs. Don believes in the legalization of all drugs and treatment for addicts. “In England, if you’re a heroin addict, you get your heroin from your doctor – and then what do you do?” he asks, “you go to work and are a productive member of society.”

He speaks to the hypocrisy of those in power who use cannabis behind closed doors, lacking the courage to stand up for what they know is the truth. He says this American drug war has been waged for 70 years solely for the purpose of job creation. Judges, lawyers and police officers smoke pot, he points out. Don believes these people go along with the laws to keep their employment, knowing full well that smoking cannabis is not bad. They are saying these drugs are dangerous, when they know better, he asserts.

Don has a son and three daughters and he would rather his kids smoke pot than drink alcohol. “Hospital beds are full of people on Welfare Wednesday because of alcohol, He notes. “Dangerous drugs are drugs like: Ritalin, Prozac, Alcohol, and tobacco. They are all more dangerous than pot.”

“We are honest, hardworking business people trying to earn a living,” his voice is angry. “Because we’re pot people, they kidnapped our people while they looted and destroyed our business.” He says he’s learned valuable lessons from his experience with the first Da Kine.

“I have devoted my life to getting the message to people about just how costly this drug war is to Canadians. This is a war on Canadians like Carol and myself and it’s costly, socially, for our society and for our city.”

Born in New Westminster, Don’s mother was a homemaker and his Dad worked “in the mills.” His parents were farmers from the prairies. He has two brothers and one sister. He quit high school in Grade 10 and has worked the mining, logging and newspaper industries. He has seven grandsons. “I have a green thumb and I’m a very good gardener; plants are my hobby and my love.” Don ran as a BC Marijuana Party candidate in the Surrey-Tynehead riding in the last provincial election.

After a college course in Developmental Services Carol worked in Ottawa before coming to Vancouver in early 1992. “I learned how to teach people with developmental disabilities, special needs kids, kids with autism, and brain injuries.” She has eight brothers and one sister. Her parents are still in Ontario. “They respect what I’m doing; They don’t judge me. They’re proud because I’m doing what I believe in. As far as the marijuana issue is concerned they’re not sure I’m choosing the most noble of causes,” she grins.

After smoking pot on and off through the years Carol realized the medicinal benefits of cannabis and learned about dosing. “I regulated my dose, and medicated myself instead of just smoking it socially.” She’s suffered from a condition since she was 7 years old, which throws off her equilibrium. “When I turn my head or my body a certain way I get vertigo and nauseous and I found out that pot helps with the nausea; it also helps as a muscle relaxant because I’m always tense because I’m always expecting to have to move,” she explains.

Carol is proud of what she did at Da Kine. “Looking back, I would have done a lot differently, but I would have done a lot the same too.” She thanks her staff, “from the bottom of my heart,” for believing in Da Kine as she did. “They sacrificed their freedom and their lives trying to realize the country so many Canadians envision: a country that includes cannabis.”

Don says Carol feels the pot movement is behind her. “She’s excited, working with the lawyers and the civil liberties lawyers and she was excited about Da Kine and the positive stuff we were doing there.”

He feels secure in the knowledge that, “the pot warriors are behind her,” and believes that’s important because, Don warns: “united we stand – divided we fall.”

Jailed candidate woos captive crowd

Friday, May 06, 2005

Jailed candidate woos captive crowd

Ian Mulgrew
Vancouver Sun

Don Briere, the impish 54-year-old behind the Da Kine Cafe, Commercial Drive's infamous pot den, is giggling with excitement at making history -- the first federal inmate to run for a seat in a B.C. election.

From time to time, politicians end up behind bars -- they rarely begin their careers there.

Incarcerated in the Pacific Institution/Matsqui Complex in Abbotsford as one of B.C.'s biggest marijuana dealers and awaiting trial on pot possession charges over his role last summer at Da Kine, Briere this week launched his bid as the Marijuana Party candidate in Surrey-Tynehead hoping to unseat Liberal incumbent Dave Hayer.

"The guys in here love it," he said gleefully, blue eyes asparkle, his hair dyed the colour of wheat.

"This is the first time it's happened. I've been campaigning in here and a lot of guys are going to be voting for me. This is a democracy, we do have free speech and the staff here have been great."

In 2002, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the law that stripped the right to vote from inmates sentenced for serious offences, and there now is no law precluding prisoners from running in an election provided they meet the normal nomination criteria.

The high court said such a measure could not reasonably be justified in a free and democratic society, so the B.C. Elections Act was subsequently amended so inmates can vote this time around.

Since then, a paranoid schizophrenic man incarcerated in an Ontario hospital for the criminally insane ran in that province's 2003 election and in Nova Scotia another Marijuana party candidate serving jail time for pot offences ran unsuccessfully for a provincial seat there in 2003.

His incarceration, Briere concedes, puts a bit of a crimp in his campaign, but it hasn't doused his enthusiasm.

"'Vote Me In To Get Me Out -- that should be my slogan,' " he quipped. "That and 'Tax the Weed.'"

Briere, who was marking his 236th day in the hoosegow Thursday, said he felt forced into politics to change what he considers an unjust law.

"I'm a victim of the war on marijuana and Ottawa's failed criminal prohibition. We should be taxing marijuana. We are wasting scarce law enforcement resources locking up gardeners while leaving billions on the table in uncollected tax revenue. It makes no sense."

Briere ran in the last provincial campaign and got about two per cent of the vote in the same riding -- coming fifth out of seven on the eve of going to jail to begin serving a four-year sentence for trafficking, weapons offences and money laundering.

Out on parole last year, he and his partner Carol Gwilt opened Da Kine Cafe for marijuana consumers. After being open for several months, the popular pot shop was raided by police. Gwilt, who is free on bail while awaiting trial on charges as a result of her involvement, is also running as a Marijuana party candidate in Maple Ridge-Mission.

Briere said Gwilt and other friends are running his campaign outside of prison putting up signs, phoning voters and attending candidates meetings when possible. And Marijuana party leader Marc Emery was especially high about his candidacy.

"This man should be out in the community educating people about the benefits of a non-criminal, regulatory approach to marijuana, not rotting in a jail cell on the taxpayer's dime," he said.

Briere insisted he isn't a one-issue candidate.

"Tuition fees are too high and they've closed too many schools," he said launching into a riff about education policy.

And don't get him started on BC Ferries, BC Rail, the economy, or health care -- "Why are we laying off health care workers and hiring more cops?" he says before delivering another set-piece speech.

Still, there's little chance he'll be elected May 17 -- but he's hoping he might get parole again. His hearing is set for the morning after polls close.



Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Don't Waste Resources On Weeding Out This Plant

OUR villians of today are tomorrow's heroes!

CN BC: PUB LTE: Don't Waste Resources On Weeding Out This Plant
Newshawk: Herb
Rate this article Votes: 1
Pubdate: Tue, 31 May 2005
Source: Abbotsford News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Hacker Press Ltd.
Author: John Patrick
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Walters, John)


Editor, The News:

I'm sorry, but the boonie-bias and outright bigotry - with total lack of regard for personal freedom, liberty, or hard-fought-for democratic right, law or even due process - shown by the unsigned opinion piece "Pot party's latest antics a shot at taxpayers" ( The News, May 26, Viewpoint ) forced me to write with vigor.

This is such a typical example of the kind of tripe repeatedly generated by the Valley's closed-minded liberally under-educated press. I cannot believe the local papers represent the local communities in their business and police-vantage, vigilante viewpoints. Folks just ain't that stupid - even in the 'burbs.

Even here in East Van we're not that dumb, and readers' IQ's would surpass whatever quotient these community editors have set. A system preoccupied in a war against a plant diverts precious resources from more serious issues and crime.

We all need protection against those that seek to harm us, our loved ones, and the vulnerable but given such a finite resource as our tax dollar, shouldn't priority be given to violent crimes rather than controlling which plants a gardener grows?

Willy's pig farm is part of the fallout of the war on drugs and should be examined further to show what a complete failure the drug civil war is.

Opportunists like the "US Drug Czar" John Walters and "B.C.'s Top Cop" Rich Coleman use drug war media hysteria to advance their careers.

If prohibition is repealed and the herb is available in regulated coffee shops, herb stores and pharmacies, people wouldn't be offered meth, crack and heroin by the black market like they are now.

With no war, fewer victims would get hooked on hard drugs.

If they did, they could go to the doctor to get their drugs instead of a pimp or instead of prostituting themselves or instead of committing violent crimes to get their fix and shoot up in an alley with puddle water.

I've even seen hard drug addicts and alcoholics wean off their self-destruction by using pot.

Decades ahead, when this reefer madness has ended and the US/DEA/CIA drug war dragon has been slain, then Tim Felger, Don Briere, Emery and the others your papers vilify in print will be revered by the new generations and celebrated for their "heroism" in the time of drug-war peace, while your opinions will be remembered only as laughable lies.

Police, politicians and media against legalization support organized crime.

It is their bread and butter, so why not?

John Patrick Gordon

Monday, September 12, 2005

Judge shows justice isn't blind to love

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Judge shows justice isn't blind to love

Court allows couple who ran the infamous Da Kine Cafe to reunite while they await trial

Ian Mulgrew
Vancouver Sun

Carol Gwilt and Don Briere give each other a hug after a judge lifted her bail restriction.

The B.C. legal system stepped aside for Cupid Friday, lifting a months-long no-contact restriction on the couple who ran the infamous Da Kine Cafe and now face marijuana charges.

Carol Gwilt, the accused owner-operator of the defunct, marijuana-dispensing Commercial Drive cafe, left the courthouse and threw herself into the arms of convicted pot kingpin Don Briere.

"At last," she cooed, kissing him.

"Cool," said Briere.

For months, the couple, who have been lovers for about 21/2 years, were prohibited from physical contact as a result of separate bail restrictions imposed while each awaited trial on drug charges.

The 38-year-old Gwilt faces one trial in November and another trial date remains to be set in connection with her role in the east side cafe.

The 54-year-old Briere has a trial date next spring on charges of possession of marijuana.

At the time of his arrest last September, he was on parole from a four-year stretch for marijuana production, money-laundering and weapons offences.

As a result, he was returned to federal prison.

Scheduled for mandatory release in June, Briere was granted bail and freed to await trial on the latest charges.

His contact with several people, including Gwilt, was restricted at that time.

But B.C. Supreme Court Judge Selwyn Romilly, upon hearing Briere was being kept from his lover, agreed Monday to relax his bail conditions.

He said he did not want to stand in the way of true love -- a decision that paved the way for Gwilt to seek an easing of a similar restriction in her bail conditions.

Initially, it was unclear how Provincial Court Judge Herb Weitzel was leaning, especially after he quipped with a straight face: "Mr. Justice Romilly always has been a romantic."

Gwilt said afterwards she was sure he was going to turn her down.

"Four minutes before the end," she told Briere, "I thought it was 'No.' You're such a bad dude. At least they didn't mention the weapons."

When Briere was arrested in 1999 as the mastermind of a massive marijuana growing organization, police seized a submachinegun and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

But Weitzel noted the judge who originally set Gwilt's bail conditions last October allowed the couple to talk on the phone, so he figured there was no problem about them concocting a story.

Nor did Weitzel at the end of the 20-minute hearing feel there was a public-safety issue.

"In my view, it is appropriate to remove the condition from the undertaking," he said, in spite of the Crown's argument it should be maintained given Briere's record and the seriousness of the charges.

Gwilt, who had sat nervous and twitchy, broke into a grin and her shoulders, tight with tension as she awaited the decision, slumped in relief.

Still, Weitzel felt the need to warn her.

"You are both well-known public figures," he said, and police will quickly move in should either engage in any drug activity."

Briere is running for city council in Vancouver and Gwilt is planning to work on his campaign. Both are pot activists and former candidates for the B.C. Marijuana Party in the provincial election.

Outside 222 Main Street, Gwilt and Briere lustily embraced -- each grinning from ear to ear amid the ever-present din of the Downtown East side emergency sirens.

Briere said he hoped to take his love for a nice dinner.

Asked what she was looking forward to, Gwilt quipped: "Never mind."

Her lawyer Jason Gratl grinned: "A lovely result -- all of a sudden it seems like spring is in the air."



Judge sets aside bail conditions for the sake of love

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Judge sets aside bail conditions for the sake of love

Ian Mulgrew
Vancouver Sun

B.C. Supreme Court Judge Selwyn Romilly said Monday he wouldn't stand in the way of true love or the electoral process and relaxed bail conditions on Don Briere, convicted drug kingpin, accused marijuana supplier of the infamous Da Kine Cafe, and pot politician.

Flashing a thumbs up from the prisoner's dock to a handful of supporters, Briere was ecstatic at the ruling that will allow him to run for Vancouver city council in November and paves the way for him to see his lover Carol Gwilt, who also faces drug and money-laundering charges for her role at the Commercial Drive cafe.

"I can't believe it," he said. "It's great, really great."

As conditions of his release on bail earlier this year while awaiting trial, Briere was banned from the City of Vancouver except to see his lawyer or attend court. He was also restricted from seeing several people, including Gwilt.

They have been separated since their separate arrests last fall.

Romilly initially imposed the conditions on Briere June 6 when he was granted mandatory release from federal prison, where he was serving a four-year stretch for marijuana production, money-laundering and weapons offences.

He was described at the time by the RCMP as one of the biggest drug lords in Western Canada, managing a network of growing operations that spanned the province, earning millions of dollars that were washed through a Burns Lake financial office.

Briere got involved in Da Kine shortly after being released on parole for those offences, and was returned to jail on his arrest in September.

However, he is also a marijuana activist and politician who has run in two elections -- the last as the first provincial candidate to run from inside a federal penitentiary.

His lawyer Richard Levenson told Romilly that Briere wanted the geographic restriction in his bail conditions relaxed so he could run for council and he outlined the seriousness with which Briere had conducted his previous campaigns.

"I thought you couldn't run for office with a prior conviction -- shows you I'm just right out of the loop," Romilly quipped.

In 2002, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the law that stripped the right to vote from inmates sentenced for serious offences, and there now is no law precluding prisoners from running in an election provided they meet the normal nomination criteria.

"A noble purpose," Romilly said, dismissing the Crown's objections, "a very noble purpose indeed. While I'm tempted to maintain my original terms, because of the purpose for which he wishes to have this term of release deleted, I'm satisfied the deletion should take place. I'm going to amend my original order."

With an initial victory in hand, Levenson then asked Romilly if he might stretch his luck and also have removed the restriction on contact with Gwilt.

"This is his lover," the judge asked surprised.

"Yes," Levenson said.

"And still his lover?" Romilly prodded.

"That would violate your conditions," Levenson replied lightly.

Romilly had imposed his original order expecting Briere already to have been tried and the bail conditions by this point moot.

But his trial now is slated to begin next spring.

"[Maintaining the condition] would mean he has to be without his lady love until next year?" Romilly asked.

Levenson nodded.

"I think the term should be removed," the judge said.

Briere beamed.

He left court to organize his campaign, but he still couldn't call his sweetie.

Gwilt was as happy as Briere when I called her.

"Oh, God," she repeated several times. "Oh, God, that's just great. You've got to excuse me, Ian, I've got to go dance."

Before the couple can embrace, provincial court Judge William Kitchen must agree to repeal the reciprocal restriction of contact he imposed on Gwilt.



Friday, May 06, 2005

LTE Abbotsford Times May 6,05

Newshawk: Herb
Rate this article Votes: 0
Pubdate: Fri, 06 May 2005
Source: Abbotsford Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 The Abbotsford Times
Author: Carol Gwilt and Don Briere
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)


The Editor:

Since the 1908 Opium Act in Canada, our government and police have been trying to eradicate drugs from our culture and there are now more drugs, more of a variety of drugs, and more desire by more people to use drugs than ever before.

We know after almost a century of trying, prohibition of drugs is dangerous, counterproductive and does not work.

Half a trillion dollars and a quarter million Canadians have been wasted in the last 40 years on efforts that do no more than destroy our families, friends, neighbours and economy and create victims and criminals out of decent people.

The plain fact that drugs are illegal costs the individual and society more than drug use itself. People with serious self-injurious dependencies are sick; just as sick as someone with cancer or AIDS and in fact, many do have cancer and AIDS as well.

They are so desperate they may steal from and beat people for money to buy drugs to ease their pain. Their lives revolve around their next fix because they need it, just like you and I need food.

If a person with a heroin addiction has access to clean, quality heroin without committing crimes to get it, everyone is safer.

What is wrong with giving it to them? Seriously.

If we don't, they will find a way to get it anyway. We know that.

Harm reduction models benefit the whole community by providing compassion and motivation for a person to gain autonomy and develop skills to make sound choices that contribute to society in a positive way.

I have spent quality time with people who have severe, debilitating drug problems and I can tell you there is still a person inside somebody's child, brother, mother or dad.

For me, there is no other way but to offer compassion and support and I am ashamed that we, as a democracy, are holding people in cages for being sick and closing down hospitals at the same time.

Carol Gwilt and Don Briere


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Oakland's Noble Pot Experiment

CN BC: Column: Oakland's Noble Pot Experiment
Newshawk: CMAP
Rate this article Votes: 0
Pubdate: Tue, 05 Apr 2005
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun
Cited: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Cited: Cannabis Consumer Campaign
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


San Francisco Area Takes Leadership Role in the Fight for Saner Drug Policies in U.S.

OAKLAND, Calif. - I emerged from the BART subway station squinting into the sunlight glinting off a red Ferrari ostentatiously parked outside the Cannabis Buyer's Co-op. The licence plate read: "Growhydroponics com."

Inside the co-op there was the usual head-shop collection of vapourizers, rolling papers, lighters, paraphernalia and hemp products. Those with a doctor's recommendation or a recognized cannabis-patient card -- good across the state -- can also buy from a menu of cannabis products -- kif, several strains of marijuana, hashish and selection of edibles.

Next door, the hydroponic shop offers equipment and advice on growing.

Two doors down is the Bulldog Cafe -- named after one of the legendary coffeeshops in Amsterdam that successfully challenged the Netherlands' pot prohibition policies in the mid-1970s.

Here, recreational users can order from a menu of cannabis products, sit and enjoy a cappuccino and a smoke.

Prices are about twice what they are in Vancouver -- an eighth of an ounce of good stinky sold for $40 US -- about $48 Cdn-- less potent weed for $30 US -- about $36 Cdn -- plus state sales tax, of course.

"It's called goo," Richard Lee, the owner, told me holding up the crystal-encrusted bud of marijuana that smelled of citrus and sandalwood. "As good as any of your B.C. Bud."

From his wheelchair in a small room behind an appropriate Dutch door, he dispensed the pot in small glassine bags and the edibles packaged in appropriately satirical wrappings -- Kiefkat, Indo' Joy, Stoners, Reefers... There was chocolate milk infused with THC ( the most active psychotropic chemical in marijuana ) as well as cheesecakes laced with pot.

"We're trying to be low-key responsible neighbours and so far it's working out well," Lee said. "We're celebrating our fifth anniversary."

Throughout this downtown neighbourhood are similar outlets, the oldest dating back to the early 1990s, the co-op to 1995. They call it Oaksterdam. Across California there is a growing network of medical marijuana dispensaries and clubs using the state's constitutional privacy rights to keep police at bay.

Believe it or not, there are an estimated 60,000 registered medical marijuana users -- some 20,000 in the Bay area -- and more than 100 pot outlets, some offering more than 60 strains of the demon weed.

Lee has been at the forefront of the fight that established this marijuana-friendly enclave in the belly of a country whose federal government is engaged in a jihad against the drug.

Forget what you have heard about Vansterdam -- our town is well behind the Bay area in terms of access to medical marijuana and tolerance of recreational pot consumers. Forget, too, what you hear about the U.S. being so afraid of Ottawa liberalizing our laws.

The U.S. federal administration is desperately trying to maintain a worldwide pot prohibition.

But a dozen states already have decriminalized possession and moved to protect medical users from prosecution. Another handful currently have marijuana initiatives on their political agenda.

Over the weekend some 500 primarily American members of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws were in San Francisco to celebrate the advances on the eve of a much-anticipated U.S. Supreme Court ruling on medical marijuana.

The acme, in my opinion, is Oakland, where cannabusiness is hailed as the catalyst for urban renewal in a once blighted neighbourhood and the working model that led to the passage Nov. 6 of Measure Z -- the Oakland Cannabis Regulation and Revenue Ordinance. Electors voted by 65 per cent to tolerate private adult sales, cultivation and possession of cannabis with envisioned regulated retail sales and smoking dens.

It's a noble experiment, though to truly enact such a policy requires changes to state and probably federal law.

"This is just the beginning," said Mikki Norris, who leads the Cannabis Consumer Campaign, a lobby group advocating a legalize, tax-and-regulate approach. "The debate is finally moving in the right direction."

Her group believes the state could save $150 million or so in enforcement costs and raise an estimated $1 billion in tax revenue.

The question, though, is whether pot opponents here will be able to attack the initiative and defeat it the way Vancouver shut the Da Kine Cafe retail pot outlet and dampened optimism among pot users here that liberalization is on the horizon.

Ethan Nadelmann, who travels the world on billionaire George Soros' nickel stumping for saner drug policies, and a key player in Vancouver's so-called Four Pillar approach, thinks what happens in Oakland will depend on pot users.

"San Francisco has a leadership role now," he said. "But people must be responsible. Don't be a target. Be a place we want to bring people to show them what works, not a place for their side to bring people and say look at this disaster."