He's a Healer, Not a Dealer: Rick Simpson's "Cannabis Cures Cancer" Case Settled by Tom McCoag, Halifax Chronicle Herald (09 Feb, 2008)
Man who claims his hemp oil cures cancer says he's leaving Canada after fine for trafficking in medical pot.
A man who insists he has found the cure for cancer says he is leaving Canada for an unnamed country where he can live without fear of persecution or prosecution for taking and producing medicinal marijuana. "I can’t live in a country where I and others are labelled as criminals because of our medical need for this (marijuana) medication," Ricky Logan Simpson, 58, said Friday. "I’ve decided that after five years of trying to bring my medicine to the people, I don’t like the way this country is run. It seems that the health and welfare of the people means nothing to the (politicians) in Ottawa."
Mr. Simpson made the comments outside Nova Scotia Supreme Court moments after Justice Felix Cacchione fined him $2,000 and sentenced him to one day in jail, considered served by his court appearance, for producing marijuana and possessing less than three kilograms of tetrahydrocannabinol for the purpose of trafficking. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the main active ingredient in marijuana.
A charge of possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana was stayed. Mr. Simpson was given six months to pay the fine. A crowd of about 30 supporters in the courtroom applauded loudly when the sentence was handed down. As sheriff’s deputies tried to quiet them, one man yelled, "Rick Simpson is a healer, not a dealer."
Outside the courtroom, Chummy Anthony, president of the Nova Scotia Marijuana Party, held a sign bearing similar wording. He was upset that Mr. Simpson wasn’t simply given a discharge. He was yelling at the top of his lungs that "Mr. Simpson was just like Jesus Christ, because just like Jesus Christ, he was being prosecuted and persecuted for helping sick people."
A woman stood beside him holding up a DVD titled The Run from the Cure: The Rick Simpson Story. The DVD details Mr. Simpson’s court battles and his efforts — including running in the last federal election — to have federal medical marijuana laws changed. Mr. Simpson was seen distributing the DVD to people before his sentencing. Afterward, Mr. Simpson hugged and shook hands with supporters as he left the courtroom a free man. One man pledged that Mr. Simpson will not have to pay the fine because "all the people he’s helped will chip in money to make sure it’s paid."
A Supreme Court jury found Mr. Simpson guilty in September after a five-day trial. The charges stemmed from an RCMP raid on his Little Forks Road property on Aug. 3, 2005, that netted 1,190 marijuana plants. Mr. Simpson admitted at trial to growing marijuana on his property and using it to create a hemp oil that he claims cures everything from cankers to cancer. He distributed the hemp oil free to about 300 patients. Even after the trial ended with a guilty verdict, Mr. Simpson pledged to continue making and distributing the hemp oil. It was his contempt for the law, and the size of the marijuana seizure — described as one of the biggest in the province — that led Crown attorney Monica MacQueen to recommend a two-year jail sentence for Mr. Simpson. Defence lawyer Duncan Beveridge suggested an unconditional discharge, saying his client did not profit from his marijuana operation.
Justice Cacchione called the trial the most unique drug case he has ever presided over. He said he’d never heard of a drug trafficker telling police of his plans, or of a dealer who didn’t earn a profit from his trafficking. "Mr. Simpson’s actions were entirely altruistic," the judge said. "There was nothing insidious in what Mr. Simpson did." He acted out of a strongly held belief in the medicinal value of marijuana and a steadfast conviction that the hemp oil he made was helping people alleviate their suffering from a variety of ailments that prescription drugs were having little impact upon, the judge said. But he said he couldn’t grant a discharge because Mr. Simpson chose to grow marijuana and distribute his hemp oil illegally instead of participating in the federal government’s medical marijuana program. Ms. MacQueen said it was too early to say if the Crown will appeal.
Mr. Simpson’s legal woes are not over. He is to appear in Amherst provincial court on Feb. 28 to face another trafficking charge that Amherst police laid in November.