Pubdate: Thu, 09 Oct 2008
Source: Nor'wester, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2008, Transcontinental Media
Author: William Clarke
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)


RCMP Seize Drugs

A Sept. 30 Springdale drug bust might have led to charges, but it
points to larger societal issues. Acceptance of marijuana use needs to
change, or the problem could get worse, according to RCMP.

The day had just passed dusk when Springdale RCMP conducted a vehicle
stop on Fir Street. Inside they found a small quantity of marijuana.
Police arrested a 19-year-old Springdale man for possession and for
breaching a probation order. The 20-year-old driver was charged with
impaired operation by a drug.

That's where the problem ends, but cpl. Faron Harnum said it begins
with a large segment of society that believes a little smoke might not
be a bad thing.

"There's plenty of it," he said. "There's plenty of use and plenty of
movement. I think in society in general, drugs are a big part of
society. It's by and large, socially acceptable."

Now before you start calling the superintendent or your MHA, cpl.
Harnum clarified the remark by saying there exists a large number of
people across ages and economics that are using drugs like marijuana.

"It's not just very select people in the community, it's not just
youth," he said. "There are people in all communities using it that
are of different ages, different sexes and different walks of life. It
used to be isolated to a very small core of our population."

He likened the current level of drug use to that of alcohol before
groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) began their campaigns
to educate people on the risks. Cpl. Harnum said the difficulty now is
that you can be just as impaired with a little smoke as you would be
with alcohol. That's becoming a huge problem.

"There's a lot of people trying to de-criminalize it," he said. "It's
something that in some cases is used for pain relief and we're getting
drug use nearly as common as alcohol."

He said government has taken the battle seriously by putting more
money into drug programs for education and enforcement. What's next is
the type of community backlash that has been so effective in deterring
drunk drivers.

"Impaired driving is not only illegal, over the last number of years
it's something that's frowned on by the public," he said. "It's
embarrassing. People don't want their name in the paper, they don't
want people to find out because it's no longer socially

He said drug use has become so pervasive and permitted, some people
begin their day with a little smoke the same way other people might
start their day with cereal. RCMP have arrested people while they've
been smoking drugs on their way to work.

Although cpl. Harnum said the visible use and availability is no more
prevalent here than in other places he has served, people need to be
aware of the effects.

"You can be impaired by drugs just as much as you can be impaired by
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