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Qualified Expert Witness: Marijuana Charges

Growing National Demand for Marijuana Expert Eric Nash

Cowichan News Leader and Pictorial
by Krista Siefken
Published: October 29, 2008

Eric Nash sits quietly in a small room at the Duncan court offices. He’s impeccably dressed in a black suit and burgundy tie, and with his glasses and closely cropped hair, he looks every bit the qualified court expert.

What’s not immediately apparent is that this man’s area of expertise is marijuana. “We’re beginning to become known by criminal defence lawyers across Canada as experts in our field,” explains Nash, who along with partner Wendy Little grows certified organic medical marijuana through the Health Canada-licenced operation, Island Harvest, here in the valley.

“Wendy Little and I were first asked to submit a statement for the defence regarding marijuana production, crop yield and monetary value in March 2007 for a cultivation case in the Maritimes,” said Nash. “On marijuana usage and supply issues, we first testified in Toronto in 2005.” Marijuana crop yield and monetary value are what brought Nash to the Duncan court house on October 24. Through videoconferencing technology, Nash was able to provide expert testimony in a St. John’s, Newfoundland courtroom.

To date, Nash and Little have testified in more than 30 cases across Canada at the provincial court, supreme court and federal court levels.

“There is an increasing demand for our services as experts in the courts as more people find out about our experience from several years of marijuana production and distribution within Health Canada’s medical marijuana access program,” said Nash. For example, he said two years ago he and Little would get one request every few months. Now they get daily e-mails from people and lawyers across the country.

“Because marijuana is B.C.’s third largest trade sector in the provincial economy and is such an integral part of culture and society, there will be a continued and escalating volume of legal work in this area due to the continued prohibition of this plant,” Nash added. As far as he knows, he and Little are the only defence experts able to speak to marijuana production, yield, usage and monetary value.

“There are other experts in Canada more specific to legal interpretations, medical application and drug policy,” he explained. For more information on Nash and Little’s legal expertise regarding marijuana, visit www.marijuanalaws.ca

Good news for Nash and Little

In 2005, Nash and Little testified in federal court in Ottawa on the matter of supply and consumption of medical marijuana in Canada. After three years of waiting, the verdict is in — and it’s good news for the local marijuana growers. “The federal government monopoly on marijuana supply is now legally and officially over, effective (Monday) afternoon,” Nash told the News Leader Pictorial.

“What this means is that suppliers in Canada such as our company, Island Harvest, can now supply an unlimited number of medical cannabis consumers in Canada.” Until now, Nash and Little were permitted to supply medical marijuana to just one consumer each. “This is incredible news for the medical marijuana consumer, for the cannabis agriculture industry and for the Canadian economy,” Nash added.

“This court decision is a bright light in dark economic times… Basically, this decision opens up and legitimizes a free and open Canadian medical cannabis market for suppliers, and it creates industry supply options and price ranges for consumers.” Island Harvest Certified Organic Cannabis has been in operation in the valley since 2002, and was the first of its kind in Canada.

Owners Eric Nash and Wendy Little use certified organic soils and fertilizers during production of the plant, which is a safe bet for those who require marijuana for medical purposes. Operations like Island Harvest are important, said Nash, because otherwise patients end up turning to the “unregulated street market for their medical supply, which can often contain hazardous chemicals, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides.”

Island Harvest has the support of Cowichan MP Jean Crowder, MLA Doug Routley and the City of Duncan’s mayor and council.

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