Pubdate: Fri, 21 Jul 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A1


A drug bust at Richmond and Dundas streets, a downtown London
intersection with a notorious reputation for crime, is rarely a

The shocker this time?

One of two men charged with drug trafficking in a recent bust there is
88 years old.

Then, there's the small amount of marijuana that was seized, 16

Social media chatter lit up, and critics pounced, after London police
Thursday announced the trafficking charges against the two men, the
octogenarian and a 60 year old.

Critics questioned the charges, given the age of the oldest man and
the small amount of pot.

"This is a waste of police resources and time. You've got bigger fish
to fry," said Eric Shepperd, an organizer of London's 420
demonstration, an annual event celebrating cannabis culture and
pushing for the drug's legalization. Don Crawford, president of the
Middlesex Law Association, said he sees first-hand how pot charges
clog an already overburdened court system.

"I think the courts have better things to do than worry about somebody
who's got 16 grams of pot," the London lawyer said, adding he's never
heard of someone in their late 80s charged with a marijuana offence in
his 47-year legal career.

Since the federal Liberal government tabled legislation in the spring
to legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use - a move
expected to take effect next July - critics have decried police for
continuing to lay pot charges.

The two London men were arrested Tuesday around noon after a
drug-trafficking probe downtown, police said.

Investigators seized 16 grams of pot - enough to roll about 40
medium-sized joints - and $605 in cash. The two accused are to appear
in court Sept. 1.

The 88 year old, who uses a walker, is a fixture at Dundas and
Richmond streets, say people who hang out at the corner. He couldn't
be reached for comment Thursday.

Const. Sandasha Bough defended the charges, saying drug trafficking
will remain a criminal offence after pot is legalized.

But Shepperd blasted police for targeting cannabis, while other more
dangerous drugs, such as opioids, wreak havoc on communities.

"We're going to look back on this time with total shame at the kind
laws we're enforcing," Shepperd said. "It's effectively harassment.
It's the police making work for themselves to justify their own existence."

London police have a history of taking a hard line against marijuana.
Until two years ago, the force was one of the few in Canada to crack
down on pro-pot activists at 420 demonstration in Victoria Park.

Since the 2015 election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who made a
campaign vow to legalize recreational pot use, London police have
stayed out of Victoria Park while 420 demonstrators gather and openly
smoke pot.

Despite the looming cannabis law changes, the picture of how legalized
marijuana will look remains hazy across Canada.
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