Pubdate: Wed, 02 Mar 2011
Source: Intelligencer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2011, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Luke Hendry


Bill S-10 Panned As "Ideological" Court-Clogging Move

Polite, educated opposition is the best way to fight a proposed
federal drug law amendment, marijuana activists said Tuesday in Belleville.

About 30 people filled The Studio cafe on Front Street for a panel
discussion on the negatives of Bill S-10.

The Penalites for Organized Drug Crime Act would implement mandatory
prison terms for certain drug charges and "special penalties" if the
crimes target youth or IS conducted by organized crime.

It cleared the Canadian senate in December but is pending final
approval in the House of Commons.

Tuesday's meeting was part of a national tour by the National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in Canada. "You
remove discretion from the judges in deciding how to proceed, and
that's dangerous. Each case is unique," said Marc-Boris St-Maurice,
NORML Canada's executive director.

"Public opinion is very much in our favour," St-Maurice

" There are already laws against organized crime. Why don't we use
those laws and actually go after these people?" St-Maurice said. "It's
easier to put something out for your ideological purposes and then
spin it for some convenient political purpose.

"This is just not going to solve those problems."

He said the bill would deter only small-time growers of pot because
organized criminals are "the only ones who would risk" stiffer penalties.

Local activist Gary Magwood said he helped organize the meeting in
part because of the "staggering" hypocrisy of government.

Marijuana, he said, "is being used in the mainstream" and not simply
by those attending the meeting.

He said he's concerned Bill S10 is "absolute insanity." He said it
would clog the courts, cause " staggering costs" for new prisons, and
destroy the lives of teens.

Those who face a minor pot possession charge might be jailed and
emerge with a criminal record, making it difficult for them to find
work, Magwood said.

A bust on a minor charge "breeds contempt for the law and
establishments," StMaurice said.

" My big concern is that ... Canadians are just sitting back and saying,
' OK,'" said Magwood.

Three Belleville Police officers, who were observing from the street,
were invited inside, where they listened quietly. They later reported
no problems with the gathering.

Both St-Maurice and Magwood said the public must speak up to oppose
the bill. StMaurice said opposition should be polite and
understanding, not confrontational.

"If 100,000 potheads joined the Conservative Party we may actually see
a shift in what's going on." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.