Police waited seven months to charge de Vries
Pot politician blows smoke at new charges
The man who ran as Nunavut's Marijuana Party candidate in the last federal election insists he is no reefer recidivist.
Police charged Ed de Vries, 48, in Iqaluit May 2 with drug trafficking, conspiracy to traffic and breach of undertaking, shortly after de Vries was released from a six-month prison term for drug-related charges.
In fact, the marijuana seizure that led to these charges occurred in late September 2006, several days before de Vries was sentenced Sept. 24.
De Vries' current charge of breaching an undertaking does not mean he broke his terms of parole. Police simply allege he broke the peace at the time of the drug seizure.
This was unclear last week, when an RCMP press release did not state when police seized several pounds of marijuana. An RCMP spokesperson also could not say when the seizure took place.
De Vries says negative publicity from the new charges is impeding his ability to find work in Iqaluit.
"It looks like they captured a bunch of marijuana from me May 2 and charged me," de Vries said Monday.
"My wife and I and family are trying to put our lives back together again," he said. "I sit here in poverty, waiting. I'm not selling weed. I'm not selling carvings. I'm unemployed."
Cst. Peter Lambros, head of the Nunavut RCMP's drug section, said it took police seven months to charge de Vries because his unit is overwhelmed by paperwork, staff turnover, and the execution of warrants outside the territory.
The constant flow of drugs into the territory does not help matters. "That's a big part of it," he said.
Lambros is the only officer working in the drug section, although he expects more help soon.
As for de Vries, he is still seething from his time in jail. He accuses Crown lawyers of reneging on a deal that would have prevented him from serving jail time in exchange for a guilty plea.
"They reneged badly on it," he said.
He promises to turn his next trial into a public spectacle that exposes how widespread marijuana use is in Nunavut, complete with photos and videotaped evidence.
"No one has stepped up to the plate to say, hey, we're all doing this," he said.
De Vries is also appalled that since he left Igloolik, where he lived for several months before pleading guilty, "the price of marijuana skyrocketed… People are getting raped again up there. It's just horrible."
While de Vries admits he funnelled drug proceeds through his "natural pain relief" business, he also insists he conducted legitimate business through the operation, prior to his guilty plea, and had many "some pretty distinguished" clients in Iqaluit.
"I never offered a single one of them marijuana during their treatment," he said.
But de Vries has had trouble acquiring a new business licence from the city. "They believed it was a marijuana business. And it wasn't," he said.
He would not say whether he still smokes marijuana. "No comment," he said.