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Challenger of Canadian Marijuana Law Sentenced to Three Years Probation, Fined $750


September-October 1997

On September 5, Justice John McCart of the Ontario (Canada) Court sentenced Chris Clay to three years probation and issued him a $750 fine. Clay also forfeited about $50,000-$80,000 worth of inventory seized by police during a raid on his Hemp Nation Shop in London, Ontario. Clay was convicted on August 14 of marijuana possession and trafficking (See "Canadian Constitutional Challenge to Marijuana Laws Rejected by Trial Court, Appeal Planned," NewsBriefs, August 1997). (Reuters, "Cannabis crusader sentenced," September 5, 1997; Peter Krivel, "Marijuana crusader gets probation, fine," Toronto Star, September 6, 1997; Pearce Bannon, "Hemp crusader escapes jail time, fined $750," Ottawa Citizen, September 8, 1997).

Clay had deliberately sold marijuana plants in 1995 with the intent of challenging the constitutionality of marijuana laws. Clay's lawyer, Professor Alan Young, Osgoode Hall Law School, filed an appeal of Justice John McCart's rejection of the constitutional challenge on the same day as his sentencing. "Alan [Young] was preparing right from the start for the Supreme Court. The main purpose for the first round is to get a good evidentiary record that we can draw upon later," Clay said. Clay told NewsBriefs that he believes his appeal will be heard next summer.

"I want to get buyers away from the black market, where there're no quality controls and no age restrictions," Clay said. "I'm also concerned about the thousands of Canadians who have criminal records just from marijuana possession." Clay said he plans to move to Vancouver and assist a group that helps AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis victims obtain medical marijuana.

Chris Clay -

Attorney Alan Young - Osgoode Hall Law School, 4700 Keele Street, North York, Ontario, Canada M3J1P3 Tel: (416) 736-5595.