Pubdate: Wed, 26 Apr 2017
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Calgary Sun
Author: Ricky Leong
Page: 15


As Canada prepares to legalize marijuana, one lone Alberta pot plant
has the potential to become something of a poster child for the
internal struggle currently facing law enforcement.

In a news release issued this month - days before the federal
government was to reveal its new cannabis policies - RCMP in Hanna
trumpeted the arrest of a 48-year-old woman resulting from the
execution of a search warrant at a home, which turned up one marijuana
plant and marijuana equipment.

The woman was to appear in court this week.

Maybe there's something special about this person.

Maybe there's something special about this house.

Maybe the police were trying to make some kind of point.

But looking at this from a big-picture perspective, such a drug bust
is nothing short of a colossal waste of resources.

Now that the proposed federal Cannabis Act is out in the wild, we know
what the federal government has in store for Canadians when it comes
to personal marijuana possession and production.

A household would be able to grow as many as four pot plants at a

In public, an adult would be able to possess as much as 30

True, this is just a bill and the laws of the land still say marijuana
is illegal.

But knowing drastic changes are coming down the pipe, it wouldn't hurt
police to exercise a little more judgment.

Our law enforcement resources are finite. Our courts are clogged. And
so, it seems ludicrous to have police officers running around busting
people for a so-called "soft drug" that will soon be legal when we are
simultaneously faced with an acute, deadly drugs crisis unlike
anything we've seen in a long time, in the form of such opioids as
fentanyl and carfentanil.

In 2016, 343 people died of an opioid overdose in Alberta.

Meanwhile, in B.C., opioids helped push the number of illicit drug
overdose deaths last year to 922.

Deaths due to fentanyl and carfentanil are on track to rise further
this year.

In the first six weeks of 2017, the number of deaths attributed to an
opioid overdose in Alberta was almost twice as high as what was
recorded during the same period in 2016.

And in March alone, a staggering 120 people died of an overdose in
B.C., that's four people a day, with the bulk of fatalities linked to
opioids, according to the B.C. coroners.

These startling statistics are fuelled by an illicit drug trade
reaching around the world.

Law enforcement would be better off concentrating on those merchants
who are essentially dealing instant death, rather than to continue
obsessing over individuals possessing and producing small quantities
of cannabis.

Mounties would do well to follow the lead of their colleagues in
Calgary, who weeks ago conceded simple possession is no longer seen as
a crime of significance.

"Simple possession. That wouldn't be a priority," Staff Sgt. Martin
Schiavetta told Postmedia at the time. But he warned: "Police officers
still operate with discretion, and that could still lead to criminal

While it would be wrong to say outright pot hasn't killed anyone, the
detrimental health effects of marijuana are more akin to those caused
by tobacco and alcohol than any kind of "hard drug."

It would be more fitting, then, to immediately begin dealing with pot
in the same manner we would deal with smoking and drinking - mainly as
a matter of public health, not a matter of criminal justice.
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