Federal Pot Bill Ho Hum, Says Drug Cop 

Federal Pot Bill Ho Hum, Says Drug Cop 
Posted by CN Staff on May 14, 2003 at 23:38:59 PT
By Mike Howell, Staff Writer 
Source: Vancouver Courier 
Decriminalization of possessing small amounts of pot will have little effect in Vancouver, since the city already has "de facto decriminalization," says the head of the city's drug squad. Commenting on the bill to be introduced later this week by the federal justice department, Insp. Kash Heed said he's more concerned about stopping the proliferation of marijuana grow operations than issuing a fine to someone caught with a small quantity of marijuana. 
"I don't think it's anything we're going to get overly excited about," Heed said. Under the new bill, those caught with less than 30 grams of marijuana would be ticketed rather than charged criminally. The amount of the fine hasn't been released, but it's not expected to reach the $500-to-$1,000 tab often levied against operators of grow ops. News of the bill comes as no surprise to Heed, who made a presentation to the Senate special committee on illegal drugs in November 2001. At the time, his pro-decriminalization views raised eyebrows in police circles, Heed recalls. "I was considered 'out there.'" He told the committee that total prohibition of marijuana has resulted in costly enforcement, little deterrence in supply and minimal deterrence of use. Because of that, Vancouver police have concentrated on chasing cultivators and sellers of marijuana. "I am not alone when I go on record in support of the removal of criminal penalties from small private possession of cannabis as a means of reducing the economic costs of law enforcement, and the social costs of arresting people who are otherwise not criminally involved," Heed wrote. "The effectiveness of the present policy for prohibiting the use of cannabis falls far from its goal of preventing use. It can no longer be argued that the use of cannabis would be much more widespread and the challenging effects greater today, if prohibition did not exist." Last year, police busted about 475 grow-ops in Vancouver and seized $97 million worth of marijuana. In most cases, the suspects arrested in the houses were tied to some form of organized crime, including biker and Vietnamese gangs. The new bill will also include stiffer penalties for marijuana grow operators, but Heed said the current seven-year maximum prison sentence isn't what needs to be changed-it's having judges apply the sentences. Although putting dealers behind bars is important, Heed says Canada's drug strategy needs an overhaul, considering only six per cent of its budget is spent on reducing demand for drugs. The new bill, he said, is expected to be introduced alongside a revamped drug strategy that involves spending millions on drug education and prevention. Reflecting on his presentation to the Senate committee, Heed believes his words might have had an effect on lawmakers. Or, he said, they may have been moved to act because the marijuana problem has now spread across the country, exposing eastern provinces to something B.C. has been dealing with for several years. "It seems that when the marijuana issue went east of the Rockies, it became a problem." Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)Author:  Mike Howell, Staff Writer Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2003 Copyright: 2003 Vancouver CourierContact: editor vancourier.comWebsite: Articles:Cops Now Have a Leg Up On Tokers Mellow On Weed
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Comment #1 posted by Lehder on May 15, 2003 at 02:18:35 PT
100 million informers
 ''I envision 100 million Americans looking
     for indicators of terrorism and promptly reporting it to a central database where it
     would get analyzed.''
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