Pot Smoker Not Bothered About Breaking The Law
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Author: Yvonne Zacharias, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, May 23, 2003
Copyright: 2003 Vancouver Sun
Contact: [email protected]
Chris Bennett took his first toke at age 12. He's been at it ever since.
It's 10 a.m. and the pungent odor of pot lingers around the headquarters of the Marijuana Party on West Hastings Street.
It doesn't take a sleuth to know the law is being broken here. Check out the law books. It is still an offence in Canada to possess and smoke marijuana.
Yet no police hover nearby ready to swoop.
Inside sits 40-year-old Chris Bennett. He is content. He has already had a joint with his morning coffee.
"To tell you the truth, I have much more of a problem dealing with coffee in my life than I have ever had dealing with marijuana," he chats affably, while his 11-month-old son, Shiva, crawls around nearby.
His wife, Renee Boje, keeps a watchful eye on the bright-eyed little boy.
She knows all too well the consequences of straying on the wrong side of the law. She faces 10 years in prison in the U.S. for aiding a medical growing operation in California. But now she has refugee status in Canada, the land of the benign, turn-a-blind-eye approach to all but major marijuana trafficking offences.
Bennett doesn't mind giving his name or having his photo taken.
"There is a situation of de facto decriminalization here in Vancouver," he says confidently. If police catch you with a small stash, "generally, they just throw it away and don't bother charging you because it's not worth clogging the court system."
He has been smoking pot for 28 years.
"I smoked pot for the first time when I was 12 years old. It was at my school in Deep Cove. I was quite frightened of it for some years before and quite horrified when I learned some of my school chums had been smoking marijuana. But the trend hit my school and I went out and scored a little pot."
At first, he didn't get high. In fact, it took him about a year of trying the weed before he actually felt its euphoric benefits.
"When I was a kid, it was mostly an escape from boredom. It was pretty readily available, unlike alcohol, which you had to find some bootlegger to go into the liquor store for you."
Now, he's a convert.
"I'd say the cannabis stoned state is very similar to the meditative state in that being high has a tendency to bring one really focused into the present."
Go to any snowboard hill, skateboard park, jam session of musicians or gathering of surfers on the West Coast, he counsels, and you'll find the same thing: pot. Lots of it.
It doesn't bother him that he is breaking the law when he partakes of his favourite elixir.
"The only reason we have continued legislation against marijuana is to placate America, and it's purely over trade. It's got nothing to do with the morality of what is right and what is wrong."
For the past decade or so, he has been very open in his consumption of marijuana. He wouldn't hesitate to smoke in front of the Marijuana Party's storefront office on West Hastings although he wouldn't do it in a restaurant or bar where it wasn't welcome. Other than that, he would light up almost anywhere.
"I think anyone with a little bit of courtesy and common sense can get away with smoking marijuana here in Vancouver," he said. "You have to be pretty aggressive to get busted for simple possession."
Related Articles & Web Sites:
Renee Boje's Home Page
Cannabis News Canadian Links
Don't Bully Canada, U.S. Told
Drug Refugees - Report Newsmagazine
Medical Marijuana Users Take Refuge in Canada