Pubdate: Tue, 08 Mar 2005
Source: Medicine Hat News (CN AB)
Copyright: 2005 Alberta Newspaper Group, Inc.
Author: Lee-Anne Goodman, Canadian Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Rochfort Bridge)


 From the first word of the fatal shootings of four RCMP officers in
rural Alberta last week, the spotlight was turned on marijuana
grow-ops -- the dangers they posed, the tougher laws needed to combat

Within hours, politicians, police, pot activists and even the father
of killer James Roszko pointed both to marijuana itself and the
illegal trade in the drug as major players in the deadly chain of events.

RCMP officials said from the outset that their men were killed in a
grow-op raid. William Roszko said his son was never the same after he
started smoking "that crazy dope" as a teenager. The Marijuana Party
said the shootings underscored the need to legalize pot and wipe out
the black market.

Police and some politicians argued just the opposite, saying the
tragedy proved that any move to legalize weed was madness.

It now appears the focus on grow-ups was misplaced.

"It was shameful and disrespectful both on the side of the state and
on the side of the activists, who felt they had to respond to the
state," said Alan Young, a lawyer and longtime proponent of legalizing

"Four police officers were dead and it was alarming to see it turn
into a propaganda play right off the bat. There is really nothing
about this case that should cause someone to develop public policy one
way or the other. This case is about how to deal with psychopathic
people who have long histories with the law."

Young isn't alone in his distaste. Letters to newspapers and callers
to TV and radio shows buzzed Monday along similar lines.

In a letter to the Edmonton Journal, a reader scoffed at Premier Ralph
Klein's appeal to the federal government to drop any plans to
decriminalize marijuana in the wake of the incident.

"This idiot would have killed over a littering ticket," Allan Wood
wrote, referring to Roszko. "For Klein to push his agenda on pot this
way is ridiculous."

A caller to CBC Newsworld echoed that sentiment: "The issue is about a
crazy guy with a gun," he said. 
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