Pubdate: Wed, 03 Aug 2005
Source: Barrie Advance, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Frank Matys
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)


A law targeting indoor marijuana growers falls drastically short of the 
mark by ignoring other drugs that are crippling communities across North 
America, charges Garfield Dunlop.

The Simcoe North MPP says the Ontario government is failing to attack 
producers of crystal methamphetamine with the same vigour as the grow-ops 
that are being targeted under legislation that gives police and utility 
officials sweeping new powers.

"Any kind of an illegal drug that becomes a public safety issue should be 
included in this legislation," he said. "This was just a fancy announcement 
to show they are doing something. But they didn't want to touch crystal meth."

Dunlop argues that Bill 128 doesn't go far enough, and fails to address the 
rising popularity of highly-addictive stimulants like crystal meth, a drug 
police say is migrating to Ontario from Canada's western provinces.

"It is a huge, huge problem and they are only putting a dint in it right 
now," he added.

"We are passing legislation that is only a half version of what it should be."

Under the proposed law, proceeds from the sale of real estate, vehicles and 
other goods seized from indoor pot farms would be spent on law enforcement, 
crime prevention and compensating victims.

The legislation would also empower local hydro companies to disconnect 
service to grow-ops without warning, and double penalties for fire code 

Building inspections would become mandatory for all homes harbouring grow 
ops, with repairs ordered for those deemed unsafe.

"This is a fight the police can't win alone," Community Safety and 
Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter said.

"With a concerted effort by all involved, our neighbourhoods and 
communities will be safer places to live."

Dunlop argues that expansive new powers allowed under the legislation 
should apply equally to homes occupied by laboratories where crystal meth, 
ecstasy and other drugs are manufactured.

An amendment to that effect, proposed by Dunlop in recent months, was 
flatly rejected.

"What is the downside to making the bill stronger?" he added. "I just don't 
understand it."

Reached by The Advance, a ministry spokesperson said the task force 
responsible for the grow-op bill is now preparing to tackle crystal meth.

"We need a good wholesome solution," said Andrew Hilton. He said the 
legislation was tailored specifically to address the problem of indoor 
grow-ops, and would be difficult, if not impossible, to apply to other drugs.

"Crystal meth is a different kettle of fish," he added. "The labs 
themselves are different.

"It is a bit of a different scenario, and different in terms of how you 
find them and the powers you can use to shut them down," he added.

The province additionally supports a call for Ottawa to introduce tougher 
penalties for those involved in the production and sale of crystal meth, 
Hilton said.

"We want to work with the federal government," he added.

Despite his ill-fated attempt to broaden the scope of the bill, Dunlop was 
successful in amending the legislation to ensure municipal authorities play 
a role in the inspection of properties that house grow-ops.

The bill has since passed second reading, and could be approved by early fall.
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