Pubdate: Thur, 11 Mar 1999
Source: Nelson Daily News (Canada)
Author: Gil Puder


To the Editor:

It's always nice when people make points for you, particularly amongst one's
peers. Although I've spoken out for some time about the self-serving and
intellectually dishonest behaviour of police waging a drug war, my words are
hardly as eloquent as the comments attributed to Nelson police Sgt. Dan

Having known Dan since our first year at UBC together, and later as Policy
Academy recruits and Vancouver Police colleagues, I must have been
negligent in overlooking his scientific expertise.  How else could a
fellow copper possibly refute the position of the distinguished Lancet,
British Medical Journal, and New England Journal of Medicine, all of whom
have examined the research and called for the reform of marijuana laws?

Perhaps Dan feels, as I do, that our courts should provide direction for a
law abiding society.  In that case he might care to review the decision of
the Provincial Court of British Columbia in R. v. Caine, which in April
1998 granted an absolute discharge to a recreational pot user.  This court
heard from numerous scientific experts, the Deputy Provincial Health
Officer of B.C., reviewed the Annual Reports from that office over several
years, and concluded that,the current widespread use of marihuana does not
appear to have had any significant impact on the health care system of
this province and, more importantly, it has not been perceived by our
health care officials as a significant concern, either provincially or

Nonetheless, Dan claims that he can't imagine what kind of doctor would
allow access to pot, bolstering his umbrage with a scary and unreferenced
claim of "4000 toxins." If spending time with AIDS or cancer victims can't
provide Dan with ideas about the need for compassion, then I suggest he
devote his health care energies to something really scary: the recent
Canadian Medical Association report on obesity, costing Canada about two
billion dollars and thousands of lives annually. 

Certainly a health expert like Sgt. Maluta will now closely monitor his
subordinates eating and lifestyle habits, setting a strong example himself
to avoid looking like a hypocrite. Cops who are chubby will be locked up
until fit and trim.  I'll even volunteer to set up a fitness and dietary
regimen if a busy man like Dan can't find the time. 

Of course, I suppose it's possible that Dan might adhere to the example
set by the United States' Drug Enforcement Administration, whose own
administrative judge reviewed years of scientific research and found that
marijuana should be reclassified out of criminal law.  It apparently
doesn't matter what the science says, us police will ignore it and carry
on as we always have. 

Sgt. Maluta's thirst for knowledge is, however, reflected in his stated
desire for clinical marijuana trials - hoping of course that they will
refute the current research. How can police possibly claim to be unbiased
purveyors of evidence when all we want to know is what we want to hear?
All Canadians, including those living in Nelson, deserve something a whole
lot better than this. 

Gil Puder
Police Officer, Vancouver Police Dept., 
Instructor, Criminal Justice Dept., 
Langara College Instructor, 
Justice Institute B.C. Police Academy

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