Pubdate: Tue, 07 Oct 2008
Source: Terrace Standard (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Terrace Standard
Author: Margaret Speirs
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


FEDERAL ELECTION candidates shared a variety of views on illegal 
drugs and alcohol and, in particular, whether marijuana should be 

Green party candidate Hondo Arendt said he did not believe crime 
should be a main issue in the election.

"The crime rate dropped seven per cent in B.C. over the last year... 
I'm not saying now is the time we've got no crime it's time to get 
rid of the police force, I'm saying it's strange it's the hottest 
issue of the campaign when there's so many issues in our society to 
deal with right now," he said.

In rebuttal, NDP incumbent MP Nathan Cullen said "One of the things 
that's great about living in the Northwest is the sense of 
security...and a lot of that feeling and this sense of security is 
slipping away from us.

"Where I've seen government fail is in the rehabilitation process," 
he said. "It is what we must speak to whenever we address the crime issue."

Conservative candidate Sharon Smith defended her party's policies, 
saying "our government has introduced legislation to be tough on 
crime and included in that it is to be a deterrent for crime but 
also...incarceration is for treatment and rehabilitation. We need to 
protect our innocent victims and that's what the tough on crime bill 
is all about."

Liberal candidate Corinna Morhart said more work needs to be put into 
the proactive side of youth crime, and not forget about others moving up here.

"I would like to see more drug enforcement officers in this riding 
and an increase in policing with so many coming into the area, it's 
only right to have our people safe."

Cullen said more focus needs to be on alcohol as it's more prevalent, 
especially when it comes to the courts.

He remembered sitting on a law enforcement panel here at the college 
with a local judge and prosecutor and others. The prosecutor told 
them only one or two cases out of 10 were related to drugs, while the 
rest were related to alcohol.

"We can't isolate marijuana off in one corner," Cullen said. "We have 
to get the whole addiction to make sure we can live healthier lives 
in the Northwest."

Arendt said his party does not recommend the use of marijuana but 
does support the decriminalization of marijuana because the costs of 
clamping down on it are too high especially compared to the revenue 
it could produce if it was a government run system.

"We don't believe the current system really restricts it. Any teen 
will tell you they have more access to marijuana than alcohol so the 
system isn't blocking access to it at all."

Canadian Action party candidate Mary-Etta Goodacre said she believes 
marijuana should be decriminalized, but the U.S. slaps Canada's hand 
when our government tries to.

Hemp is a wonderful plant used in Europe to make such things as 
fabric, plastics and fibre, she said. She added that marijuana is not 
nearly as hard on people as alcohol.

Taylor said the CHP does not support decriminalization. While 
marijuana itself may not be that harmful, there is a lifestyle 
component in it that can lead to harder drugs, he said.

In terms of youth offenders, the CHP does not want to throw people in 
jail for minor crimes but believes in restitution for nonviolent crimes
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom