Bad Ideas, Good Ideas

American drug warriors are preparing to swarm into Vancouver, for an anti-drug conference sponsored by the International Drug Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS).

In a series of ads placed in Vancouver newspapers, as well as one in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association, IDEAS claimed that medical pot is pseudoscience that kills, and that Canada should adopt the "zero-tolerance" drug policies of Sweden over the harm-reduction of Holland.

IDEAS is an organization co-founded by Lynda Bentall and her real-estate mogul husband Robert. They have supplied $200,000 in funding to pay for the symposium and advertising campaign.

The Bentalls are acting in collaboration with the US-based Drug Free America Foundation, which is the reincarnation of Straight, Incorporated, a horrendous youth mind-control program which used emotional and physical abuse, strip searches, food deprivation, forced enemas, and other torturous techniques to keep kids off marijuana and other drugs.

Betty and Mel Sembler, Straight's founders, founded the Drug Free America Foundation after the Straight name had been discredited through numerous lawsuits and media exposés of their abusive ways. They have sponsored a number of conferences in Florida to oppose medical marijuana and any liberalization of drug policies.

The IDEAS conference is scheduled for May 1-3, 2002, at the Vancouver Trade and Exhibition Centre. Over 3000 representatives from policing, educational and government agencies are expected to attend, along with 100 students. IDEAS is keeping a strict control over who will be allowed to attend and participate, and all the speakers at the conference oppose liberalization of drug laws.

"It's a question of the validity of the studies," Lynda Bentall told the Vancouver Courier. "Every leading expert around the world comes to the same conclusion. It's not that we have chosen people for a viewpoint. They all end up being against liberalization. All educated people on the topic end up being conservative."

Bentall also called the BC Compassion Club Society "a scam," saying "There's not one bit of evidence that smoking marijuana is good medicine." Ironically, the Compassion Club had been in negotiation to rent out a second location in a building managed by Bentall Real Estate Services. The Compassion Club was told the deal was a no-go two days after the plan for the IDEAS conference was made public.

Good ideas

The many American anti-drug conventioneers should feel comfortable in Vancouver, as there's already a number of US anti-drug organizations that have agents permanently stationed in the city. The US Justice Department and the US Drug Enforcement Agency both have agents and offices in Vancouver, and according to US Attorney General John Ashcroft, the US Marshals Office will soon have agents here as well.

Yet the IDEAS symposium is also up against some tough competition. Cannabis Culture magazine is organizing a home-town rally outside the convention centre, to distribute information about the horrendous Straight program and the need for an end to the drug war. The day after the conference ends, May 4, is the date for the Million Marijuana March, a massive public protest event being held in over 130 cities around the globe, including Vancouver.

Finally, in an even more fun way of defying those who want to oppress us, we are sponsoring the first ever Cannabis Culture Tokers Bowl from May 2-5. This exciting event will be limited to only 200 people – the first 200 who cut out the form on page 27 and send it in with their payment! Those who attend this special event will be entertained in high style, with samples of the very best BC Bud, as well as food, fun and ever more phatties!

Clearly the IDEAS organizers see the pro-pot movement in Vancouver as an enemy to be eliminated. As with the federal med-pot raids in California, the forces of prohibition are stepping up their efforts to break the back of the "legalizers." Yet by coming into the hempen heartland of Vancouver, challenging us on our own turf, we hope they have bitten off more than they can chew.

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