Pubdate: Wed, 30 Sep 2009
Source: Airdrie Echo (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Osprey Media
Author: Scott Mitchell, Senior Reporter


It was a minor marijuana bust to you and to the police, but it was
perhaps somebody's grandparents.

I don't mean to make light of an arrest and a police matter, but it
again brings to the forefront the issue of marijuana use and grow-ops
and whether or not it should be legalized.

Before I get started, I'll let you know that I don't have an opinion
on marijuana users, marijuana use, nor do I care whether or not it is
ever legalized.

It's not part of my lifestyle and unless it suddenly replaces the
lettuce at my local Safeway, I doubt I'll ever have an opinion on it.

But if my grandparents were "on the pot" I may have to rethink that.

The story is of an elderly couple in Balzac that was busted last week
with $24,000 worth of cannabis marijuana at their residence.

A total of 16 mature plants were seized, as well as some growing

There are likely hundreds of grow-ops in Alberta just like this one
and there are two sides of the fence you could find yourself on.

For those who don't believe marijuana should be legalized, parties are
probably being thrown after seeing the elderly couple being led away
in handcuffs. Others, including many who sent letters into the Echo,
believe it's over-policing and there are bigger fish to fry.

That is the area where I would tend to agree.

It's not because I want to be able to go out and light up a spliff
after work, it's because police resources in this province and all
over the country are taxed as it is.

Local RCMP, as well as Calgary Police Service, have stressed the need
for more officers and more resources to take care of rising gang
violence, domestic violence and crimes against children.

Even the most staunch critic against the legalization of marijuana
would likely agree that those three issues are much, much more
important than storming farms around the province and putting shackles
on every Tom, Dick and Harry who has a pot plant.

Then there are concerns over road safety, drunk drivers,
methamphetamine use and more hardcore drugs that are becoming more
prevalent as the population increases.

The issue of legalizing marijuana has been around for years. The
proponents say it would stimulate the economy and allow governments to
tax it much like tobacco and generate revenue in that sense. It would
allow cuts to policing costs.

Even grocery stores and the local confectionaries would likely see an
increase in Doritos and chocolate bar sales.

Less crowded courts, jails and prisons would allow cost cuts and allow
the judicial system to focus on keeping more dangerous offenders
behind bars.

However, marijuana does have confirmed psychological effects and has
been proven to be addictive.

There are arguments for both sides. There was also once prohibition.
Times change and issues do, as well.

So while police around the province are having a hard time corralling
gang members and keeping them behind bars because of a lack of
manpower, we can sleep soundly knowing the mean streets of Balzac are
a safer place with an elderly couple's devious operation out of
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr