Police Not Pursuing Arrests for Possession 

††Police Not Pursuing Arrests for Possession 

Posted by FoM on November 09, 2001 at 17:33:45 PT
By Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun †
Source: Vancouver Sun †

Vancouver police have, for all practical purposes, stopped arresting people for drug possession -- whether the drug is cannabis, cocaine, heroin or designer drugs -- a senior officer told a Senate committee hearing Wednesday.Inspector Kash Heed, commanding officer of the police department's vice and drug section, said police have chosen to focus on busting profit-makers in the drug industry and tacitly ignore people who carry small amounts of drugs for their own use.
The police department also believes the prohibition of cannabis should be revisited and the federal government should consider removing criminal sanctions, he said."In practical terms, we have de facto decriminalization or de facto legalization based on the wide margin of discretion afforded to the police," he told the Senate special committee on illegal drugs.However, he said he wasn't suggesting cannabis should be legalized. The department supports the concept of possessors being given fines akin to traffic tickets. Such penalties would not result in a criminal conviction.The special committee, which is reviewing Canada's anti-drug legislation, was in Vancouver Wednesday.Heed's comments -- which he said represent the official view of the Vancouver police department -- came after Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen told the committee the legalization of soft drugs such as cannabis is inevitable.But it was the officer's comments near the end of the day that took the committee most by surprise.Pierre-Claude Nolin, the committee's chairman, said Heed had made "bold" comments that raise the stakes facing police and the public about the issues around illegal drugs.He congratulated the officer for considering an approach not normally endorsed by police.Heed said police in Vancouver recognize they need to go after drug profit-makers such as dealers and growers, and generally don't bother people who have small amounts for personal use.The courts have also signalled they're not really interested in pursuing possession charges, he said. Crown prosecutors don't want to be burdened with personal possession charges, and judges often hand down light sentences, up to and including absolute discharge.As a result, police officers have been told by their superiors that they have wide discretion in charging people who have small amounts of drugs -- hard or soft."The Vancouver police department's policies focus drug enforcement resources on people who are making a profit from the sale of drugs," Heed said. "Generally, simple possession charges are not pursued, regardless of the type of drug, unless there are extenuating circumstances."Heed said the department, although still "vigilant," has become tolerant of clubs that provide cannabis for medicinal purposes.The changing public view about soft drug use and the fact that police have been unable to effectively control cannabis means the government should consider decriminalizing the drug, he said."Current policies directed at prohibiting the use of cannabis and controlling the supply of cannabis should be reconsidered," he said."The confirmed ineffectiveness of control of use through prohibiting the supply, and the high costs of implementing such a policy make it very unlikely it will be effective in reducing cannabis use. It seems likely that the removal of criminal sanctions should be given serious consideration by the federal government in the near future."Heed said the department is grappling with a massive cannabis-growing industry that eats up enormous amounts of law enforcement resources.The cannabis grown in an estimated 15,000 operations in the Lower Mainland has a wholesale value of about $4.2 billion annually. Provincially, the wholesale value is about $6 billion, he said.Heed said the Vancouver police department's views run counter to those of law enforcement agencies in the United States, who still adamantly insist on trying to control possession.The senate committee was created in April and is expected to table its report to the Senate in August, 2002.Note: Vancouver inspector makes revelation at Senate hearing.Complete Title: Police 'Not Pursuing' Arrests for Possession of Hard DrugsNewshawk: puff_tuff Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)Author: Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun Published: Thursday, November 08, 2001Copyright: The Vancouver Sun 2001Contact: sunletters pacpress.southam.caWebsite: Articles & Web Site:FTE's Canadian Links Pay a Visit To The Compassion Club Urges Sale of Heroin, Cocaine

Home †† Comment †† Email †† Register †† Recent Comments †† Help

Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on November 10, 2001 at 08:46:33 PT
Great article, Puff tuff
I love the higher-level analysis of cannabis laws. Whatever God or Creationism process you believe in, the undeniable truth is that the cannabis plant, more than any of the millions of plants on Earth, has a symbiotic relationship with humans. Our internal chemistry is directly wired to the cannabis plant. Did God put it here on Earth with us, or Evolution? That's neither here nor there in the drug policy debate (personally, I say evolution). I am more interested in, what does it say about our society in general that this plant is banned? A fascinating question to be sure, but I think the answer is quite simple.  Exploitation and control are at the root of Western society. Look back into history. Government and religion have constantly tried to control the things that give men pleasure or relief. Sex, drugs, spiritual beliefs, even vacation time. You must shoehorn the aspirations of men into YOUR model of exploitation. You must wed their means of satisfaction to your profitable end. If a man can enjoy some good herb, relax with his wife and children, and friends, and find spiritual fulfillment within that framework, how can he be leveraged to produce for someone else? CONTROL is the key - the men at the top have been tweaking different systems of control for millenia. What do we have today? So many of the old control methods are gone - racism, religion, sexism. The new levers of control are more subtle, and that's what makes them even more frightening. Medicine and drugs, for one. But what really scares me is that they've gone after the most sacred and precious source of satisfaction and happiness - our relationships with our own families. And no ones seems to even notice. IMO, this is single biggest change in our society in the last 30 years. We can't even raise our kids anymore, or see our spouses, care for our parents, etc. Aren't these the most fundamental rights we have as leaving creatures? Our society is attacking the very processes from which our lives spring forth. Today kids are separated from Mom and Dad and given technology (videogames, TV, other media) as some kind of pacifier.  Original thought is unnecessary, they're trained for 18 years to memorize and play back a bunch of information, easily controlled and dictated by a central point of control through standardized testing. No need for independent thought at all.Enough ranting for a Saturday morning - there's enough to celebrate up North where hopefully the light of freedom, justice, and fairness is shining through the fog of BS generating from the U.S.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by puff_tuff on November 09, 2001 at 19:46:51 PT
Evil Brain
Here is an interesting Column from The Westender (Vancouvers Urban Voice)Nov 07 2001Evil BrainBy Brian Peterson 
The Westender (Vancouver)This Remembrance Day Iím concentrating most of my healing energies on Afghani civilians ripped apart by made-in-America landmines and cluster bombs. But Iím also honouring our homegrown victims of The War on Drugs. And although the poppy is a suitable symbol of infinite pain relief corrupted by perpetual warfare, Iíll be wearing a marijuana leaf on my lapel this year. I can appreciate the ironic hilarity of a country as violently steeped in immediate gratification as the U.S. declaring war on the hemp/marijuana plant which has historically provided all the fibre, fuel, food, medicine and topsoil, sweet topsoil the people need. However, the role call of wasting, dead and imprisoned at considerable taxpayer expense is too long to snicker at. And so in protest Iíve returned to my old alma mater: The University of Dope. Good olí U Dope. Under the auspices of The Merlin Project, weíre filling PVC pipes with Sunshine Mix, cutting tender clones of lavender, oregano and others herbs, dipping them in rooting hormone and beaming them with fluorescent, high-pressure sodium and sunlight.Weíre soaping up the mites and boning up on botany, photoperiod and the mysteries of hermaphroditism. At the core thereís the chemical structure of the miraculous THC molecule and its precursors. Our perfesser could wax on for hours about the evolution of the related cannabinoids when subjected to the heat, solvents and hand-welded vats and tubes of his weed-oil extractors. Sure, itís all fascinating and fun but itís in the interests of resuming research, bypassing pharmaceutical companies and providing medical grade organic cannabis to the needy. And itís now approved under the new Health Canada Regulations, which are disappointing in their insistence on keeping ignorant and pharmaceutically-biased MDs as the gatekeepers of the herb. Regardless it affords the stakeholders an opportunity to bury the bureaucrats with a choking wave of paper that may inch us along on the crooked path to decriminalization.Sure, education brings pain in the form of fascinating and infuriating glimpses into the suppressed cure for cancer. Thatís the big C, people. Go straight to to read of the shocking THC tumour-shrinking experiments censored by the DEA in 1974, recently repeated by Spanish researchers.But when the hard learniní is done nothing compares to hashing out a big sociological question over a pipeful. For instance, are we drawn to placid marijuana as a self-defence mechanism against our own violence as a species? What effect does marijuana consumption have in enacting pain avoidance behaviour? Are pot-smokers more or less likely to do the busy work society considers useful? Will they hump the 60-pound pack 10 miles to the screams of a drill sergeant? Or venture out into inclement weather when an errand can be postponed till a brighter day? So much depends on the mood, on the mind at the time...but if the prize were rich enough there was no typhoon or bubble gum/hash plant hybrid that could slow me down. But if you want a generalizations, you got íem. Sure, regular marijuana use demotivates people from the back-breaking, knee-busting and brain-wearing tasks. It may indeed pervert a whole strata of society to scorn the vile tax of government dependency and cruel usury of the banks. It may in fact enlighten the mind to spin gold from hempstraw. What a dangerous notion to have citizens considering. No wonder the feds want kids hepped up on nice safe stimulants like speedóoops I mean Ritalin, caffeine, refined sugar and first-person shooters. We need people who will accept the agony of algebra, the fatigue of 10,000 keystrokes per minute, the compressed spine of 10 hours spent dancing on a concrete floor. We need shallow minds to endorse the war on terrorism based on a page of sketchy allegations. So on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of this sorry year 2001, self-medicate those feelings of stress and depression with a couple high-powered bong tokes.And remember that bombing civilians from the stone age into the gravel age is an insult to the notion of enduring freedom. The only enduring freedom we need is from the corporate terrorism that blackmails our government into criminalizing what was furnished to nurture us. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by MikeEEEEE on November 09, 2001 at 18:50:10 PT
"The confirmed ineffectiveness of control of use through prohibiting the supply, and the high costs of implementing such a policy make it very unlikely it will be effective in reducing cannabis use.Won't be long now.
[ Post Comment ]

††Post Comment