Pubdate: Mon, 28 Aug 2006
Source: Nelson Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Nelson Daily News
Note: The newspaper does not have an active website.
Author: Timothy Shay
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


To the Editor:

Regarding the Holy Smoke arrests, both police and mayor (who is the 
police board chair), have indicated they are simply enforcing the 
law. As a seven year resident of the downtown core I have noted 
regular inconsistency in law enforcement and in the instance of Holy 
Smoke a prejudicial illogic.

Which laws are enforced and to what extent should be based on the 
degree of public good realized.

A serious example of conscious lack of enforcement is over-service of 
alcohol in local licensed establishments.  I have observed young 
people leaving a popular local establishment, literally projectile 
vomiting then driving vehicles away!  I have called the city police 
regarding this.  One officer was honest enough to state clearly that 
police would not wait outside bars at closing time to prevent the 
intoxicated from driving.  He explained there were only two officers 
after midnight and arresting a drunk driver would take one off the 
beat for four hours of paper work.

So, while purportedly criminal pot smokers fall asleep at home, 
docile and early, dangerous, over served drunks careen through Nelson 
because it's "too much paperwork" for the understaffed" police to deal with.


Probably money, tourism, and the economic clout of the licensed booze pushers.

More seriously; the cocaine and methamphetamine trade.  Where are the 
arrests there?  Do the constabulary require a storefront with a 
twenty foot high illustration of a sick junkie before they can find 
them? Two truly insidious drugs, requiring real police enforcement 
and actual detective skills.  Both are present here and should that 
scent develop it will not only injure the potentially fickle tourist 
industry, but will destroy many youth of our community.

So why focus on Holy Smoke?

The officers involved, (particularly Detective Burkart), are very 
good men and from what I've seen competent and laudable police 
officers. While they often must decide which laws to enforce and to 
what extent, they also take orders from above; the chief, the police 
board, the mayor (who as Chair of the Police Boards directs the 
overall agenda).

I believe the presence of Holy Smoke in Nelson is healthy and of 
substantial benefit to the community and the police.

Whether Paul DeFelice and Alan Middlemiss broke the law or not will 
be determined by the courts.  Ethically, points in their favour come 
to mind: By centralizing the marijuana special interest group off 
Baker Street, wheeling and dealing, (which often left a bad in the 
mouths of our beloved tourists), was substantially reduced in the 
downtown core. This left dealers of dangerous drugs and drunk drivers 
on Baker Street thus assisting the police in what should be their 
more serious work.

The presence of Holy Smoke also supported a surprising number of 
seniors, whose only relief from chronic pain is the medicinal herb, marijuana.

As far as money goes, some tax paying businesses in this town are 
financial fronts for the massive billion dollar (RCMP reported) 
marijuana industry in the West Kootenay.  Many have wondered how a 
town with virtually no obvious industry (logging, mining, education: 
all in decline) can thrive.

Marijuana, whether you like it or not, is the real economic driver of 
Nelson.  So enforce an arcane and increasingly unpopular law.  Arrest 
a few idealists who are honest enough to stand up for their 
principles them underground; embrace the transient 
tourist industry with its noise, disrespect and defecating pets while 
ignoring the violence, injury, and destruction caused by the 
consumption of legally sanctioned drugs like alcohol.

Holy Smoke was an easy operation for the local police.  One of the 
owners actually went to the police, as an upstanding citizen would, 
before they came to him.  Perhaps now the police will go after the 
meth or drunks and demonstrate some real police work.

The police suggestion of wide community support for the Holy Smoke 
arrests demonstrated poor awareness of the whole community police are 
sworn to serve.

Timothy Shay

Nelson,  B.C.
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