From Cannabis Digest #25
By Andrew Brown
September 1st marks the fifteenth anniversary of Hempology 101 in Victoria, B.C. Our mandate is legalization by education. The long version is participatory education in constant, passive, civil disobedience.
Hempology 101 has evolved from meetings being held in a room across the street from Hemp BC in Nov. 1994, to a full lecture series spanning two terms at the University of Victoria. We incorporated the International Hempology 101 Society in Feb. 1996. It has also expanded to include a university club at Vancouver Island University (VIU), one set to begin this fall at UBC, and a new chapter in the Comox Valley. Each club or chapter operates slightly differently, but all hold events, organize rallies, and act as networking points.
In Victoria, the UVic Hempology 101 club is the largest student club at the University. They feature a lecture series held every Wed. at 3:30, and occasionally feature guest speakers such as Dr. Paul Hornby, and Bill Finley from Hemp & Co. You are encouraged to also attend the Hempology 101 Board Meetings, held the first Tues. of every month, and this year’s AGM held on Tues. Oct. 5. The Courtney chapter holds their meetings, usually, on the first Thurs. of every month.
Over the years, Hempology 101 has been actively educating the public, and holding events that are hoped to inspire people to become proactive in standing up for their freedoms. The last 12 months have been the busiest yet with events like the two Cannabis Conventions, the Victoria 420, Cannabis Day (July 1st), Medical Marijuana Day, numerous stop C-26/C-15/S-10 (mandatory minimum sentences bill), Cannabis Caroling, Reach 4 the Pot game show, Team 420 events, Halloween costume contest, among numerous other things—including this publication.
The Cannabis Convention saw its 11th year in Victoria, and first year in Nanaimo. The convention brings together a diverse group of speakers to share their knowledge with an ever-growing number of attendees—with Nanaimo’s convention reaching capacity. In Victoria this year, we saw Bill Finley from Hemp & Co., who spoke about the path that led him into the world of hemp, and how hemp could be utilized to literally save the planet; Tony Smith, a retired Vancouver policeman representing L.E.A.P., who spoke about the damage being caused by prohibition, and what L.E.A.P. as an organization does; lawyer Kirk Tousaw who touched on recent cannabis-related court cases and the rulings that are forming Canada’s medical marijuana laws (which the government is seemingly patronizing with their amendments); and Jeff Tek, from Treating Yourself magazine, discussed activism, medical cannabis, and many of the myths surrounding the plant.
The Nanaimo convention welcomed activist Mik Mann, who spoke about cultivation, and the road to become a legally licensed user and producer of cannabis; Dr. Paul Hornby, who gave a compelling lecture on the chemistry of cannabis; Chris Bennett, who provided a history lesson about cannabis’ roll in the evolution of different cultures; Michelle Rainey, with an inspiring talk about her use of medical marijuana, activism, her case with Marc Emery, and ways to get involved in legalizing the herb; and Ted Smith as an actual speaker, rather than a host.
The VIU Hempology 101 club also brought Jodie and Marc Emery to Nanaimo at the end of Nov. of this last year. This was a special event, as Marc had just been released on bail from the North Fraser Pretrial Centre, and nobody knew when Justice Minister Rob Nicholson was going to sign the extradition order; this was possibly going to be his only public speaking engagement, but luckily the order was not signed for a few more months. We watched the U.S. vs. Marc Emery—the documentary about Marc and his battle with the DEA—and were treated to an engaging discussion, with plenty of time for a question and answer period with Marc.
In 2009, both the UVic and VIU Hempology clubs held film festivals. They featured the films Run From the Cure, the Rick Simpson story; Cannahuana, a beautiful time-lapse film showing the life-cycle of some of the most beautiful plants and buds in the world, and What’s Up Ted?, a short documentary made several years ago about Ted Smith. Both events were a lot of fun, and fairly successful.
Team 420 was created by Ted as way for cannabis users to get active—both physically and as activists. Over the past year, Team 420 has participated in a Dodge-Ball tournament at Save-on-Foods Centre, a Frisbee-Golf tournament, had Kick-Ball games, a Foxx-Hunt, among many other fun events. Some enthusiastic activists have even downloaded Team 420 logos, displayed it on their equipment, and participated in functions in their own community—like Golf tournaments, and (as you will read further in this issue) R/C Racing. This year, Ted even ran in the Vancouver Sun Run wearing the 12 ft. tall (eight feet wide) Hempology 101 mascot costume, Herb, handing out hemp seeds along the way. He garnered mention in many news reports, and can even be seen on the cover of the Vancouver Sun in the background of the crowd shot! It’s easy to bring awareness to cannabis issues by simply wearing a Team 420 logo or T-shirt at public sporting events. Not only does it show off the jagged leaf to people not always exposed to it, but it allows you to engage other participants and spectators in a conversation about cannabis—and it helps to shake the old stereotype of the “lazy stoner.” Participating in events in this way is a lot of fun, and it helps to normalize cannabis to the general public (kind of in the same way the government is normalizing the militarization of the police, and the erosion of our basic freedoms, but that’s another issue).
Reach for the Pot is Hempology 101’s very own game show. You can check out the recent tournament on the Hempology 101 YouTube page. The tournament starts out with eight teams and works its way down, through elimination, to two teams for the final. Teams are asked skill testing questions—cannabis related, of course—similar to a Trivial Pursuit style game show. The question range in difficulty, some being almost obscure, but the fun meter always rates high. Winners are all rewarded with personal trophy bongs, though, bong or not, meeting new people and enjoying the sunshine with you favorite herb is always a winning combination. This year’s tournament is over, but stay tuned to learn how to get involved next year. In the future, we will play the game in other communities and teach people how to organize it so they can play on their own.
For the past few years, since 2002 to be specific, Hempology 101 has successfully lobbied Victoria City Council to declare Nov. 15 International Medical Marijuana Day. This past year was no different. The CBCoC held a benefit art auction that ended on the same day, with proceeds going to a club member who’s landlady incurred by-law fines due to his small medical grow. Every year, the club picks a different beneficiary.
Beyond the local Hempology 101 events, we also organize and participate in the international events like 4/20 (Apr. 20), and Cannabis Day (coinciding with Canada Day, on July 1). Our Province’s Capital, indeed, gets a lung full of...activism...with attendance reaching into the thousands at some events. These events are great for showing police, governing bodies, and the general public, just how many people want to be free to enjoy the herb—and be free from persecution.
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Since the Conservative government set its sights on mandatory minimum sentences (MMS), Hempology 101 has set its sights on educating the public—and our politicians—what these draconian laws will actually do to our society. From Bill C-26, to C-15, to S-10, it’s the same load from a bull in a different pasture. The group took action and came up the Phone Jam. Activists and concerned citizens from across Canada relentlessly phoned all their MPs, the Justice Minister, the Prime Minister, and Conservative Party headquarters, telling them what a harmful policy MMS are and that Canadians don’t approve. Phone Jam carried on to Senate when the bill passed through the House of Commons, and senators were swamped with phone calls and emails. Under the threat of the bill in its latest incarnation, S-10, Hempology 101 has stepped it up and begun holding Street Meets. The idea is inspired by Greenpeace’s style of grassroots activism of standing on street corners and engaging the public. In Victoria, Street Meets are held every Friday and Saturday, with national initiatives usually planned to coincide on a specific day. These meets have proven very effective, and quite often people who appeared to be supportive of MMS are converted.
Hempology 101 is something that is easy to start up. There are no rules, no membership fees, and nobody gets excluded, rather the opposite, everybody is encouraged to participate. Hold a movie night, start a school club, hand out some informational flyers, engage your family and friends, invite speakers to your school or rec. centre, do something small every day. If you want to open a formal club or chapter, contact <firstname.lastname@example.org> for advice or help. The more we educate, the closer we get to eliminating ignorance.
And be sure to join the Hempology 101 crew on Sept. 1 at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall. From there we march to the Legislature Building for the annual group photo.http://www.youtube.com/user/Hempology101