Pubdate: Mon, 17 Oct 2016
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network
Author: Bill Kaufmann
Page: A5


Resort town top for per-capita cases of marijuana possession in

It's Canada's other Rocky Mountain high.

The resort hamlet of Lake Louise has consistently led the country in
per-capita cannabis possession incidents, as reported by RCMP.

Since at least 2008, the mountain village of a mere 800 souls has been
in the statistical clouds, with 7,938 possession incidents per 100,000
people in 2014, and 3,675 last year.

That compares with 58 and 46 respectively in the waning war on pot in

And just up the highway in Jasper, the numbers have also reached lofty
heights at the No. 2 spot, with 3,024 possession incidents per 100,000
people last year.

Of course, Lake Louise's tiny population of mostly hospitality
industry workers makes its drug busts go a long way in boosting those
per-capita stats. But Mounties say it's not even the locals who are
driving them.

Skewing the figures are offenders packing a stash and passing through
on the Trans-Canada Highway, where they're smoked out by RCMP lying in

Employing sniffer dogs, police have targeted the corridor - and the
one through Jasper - as major transit points for drugs between the
West Coast and the rest of Canada, said Sgt. Jack Poitras of the
RCMP's K Division.

In one four-month period in 2013, for instance, police seized 181
kilograms of pot on Alberta highways, the bulk of it in the Lake
Louise area. Even so, it's likely a drop in the bucket in the total
amount of pot being transited, RCMP Supt. Howard Eaton said at the

"When you think about the volume of vehicles going through Alberta,
we're probably getting a small percentage of what's actually moving
through it," he said.

And Poitras said suspects are more frequently arming themselves,
leading to Mounties increasing the size of the units for their own
protection. "It's beginning to be a safety issue for them ... those
units are three to five members at a time now," said Poitras. With so
many decrying the futility of the war on drugs, and Ottawa set to
legalize marijuana, Poitras is asked if those stops are still worth
the risk to his colleagues. "It's always worth it if you can stop it
going into kids' hands and those who are vulnerable," he said, adding
Mounties along those highways are also seizing much more dangerous
drugs, such as fentanyl, crystal meth and cocaine.

Later in 2013, volunteer RCMP officers began patrolling the Lake
Louise ski area, partly on the lookout for downhillers toking up on
the slopes. But after that one ski season, those patrols ended, said
resort spokesman Dan Markham.

"There wasn't really a need for it and people complained about it,
saying people shouldn't be in the resort policing it," said Markham.

A much bigger issue than joints shared on chairlifts, he said, is the
theft of skiing equipment.

But he said he's not surprised roving RCMP highway patrols nearby have
had a more fruitful haul.
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