Canadian poker player loses fight for marijuana, receives fine and probation

A marijuana-advocating poker player has lost his case against the Canadian government, it was reported in the Canadian press on March 30. John Turmel, 55, an independent political candidate for last week's Nepean-Carleton bi-election, makes his living playing poker in the casino across the street from his residence, and otherwise spends his time fighting existing drug laws in Canada relating to the legalization of marijuana.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Turmel "was fined $1,000, given three years probation and told to perform 100 hours of community service" for crimes committed in 2003. Turmel subsequently announced his intention to appeal the decision.

"If I lose (the appeal), I'll have to pay, but I didn't want to go to jail, that's what worried me," said Turmel to the local paper.

Described as a "flamboyant poker player and perennial political candidate," Turmel was standing trial for the possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.

In 2003, Turmel arrived at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the seat of government in Canada, to deliver three kilograms of marijuana to then-prime minister Jean Chrétien as a political statement regarding "the need to decriminalize the country’s marijuana laws."

"I just wanted to prove that the possession law was still dead and I was proven right. They dropped the (possession) charges against 4,000 people, so I stopped the courts from enforcing an invalid law," Turmel said.

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