Pubdate: Fri, 16 May 2008
Source: Sudbury Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Sudbury Star
Author: Jesse Greenwell


It was with disappointment that I read Bob Vaillancourt's article of
May 8 ("Pot leads to $100 fine") regarding the local high school
student who was caught with $10 worth of marijuana at his school.

While I certainly agree with Justice Guy Mahaffy's contention that
school is no place for drugs, I would further contend that a courtroom
is no place for a teenager found to possess such a small amount of

I am troubled by this as a person who pays taxes - I cannot see how
the expense of a prosecution is justified in this petty matter.

Surely, the school has mechanisms in place to deal with such an
infraction, a quick visit to any local high school's website should
yield a code of conduct that states as much.

I'm sure examples are made every day of those who fail to abide by
this code of conduct - the schools suspend students regularly for such

In fact, last year our provincial legislature passed Bill 212, which
amended the Education Act. This includes a section that specifically
prescribes no more than a 20-day suspension as punishment for
possession of small amounts of illegal drugs.

Are we to believe that since last June (when the bill received Royal
Assent) circumstances have changed so much as to render this
prescription inadequate?

I am also troubled by this as a citizen, since some questions are
raised for me. If our elected officials have so lately detailed a
clear process for dealing with such a situation extralegally, why was
the law involved at all?

And even recognizing that the matter did come before the courts, how
can we as a community justify imposing a criminal record (with all the
consequences for travel and employment it carries) on such a young
person for such a small offence?

While I must again state clearly that I agree with Justice Mahaffy's
contention - recreational/illegal drugs have no place in schools - I
must strongly disagree with his decision regarding the necessity of
setting such an example.

Especially at such a price, both literally and figuratively.

Jesse Greenwell

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