Gregory Schellenberg had already been approved to grow medicinal
marijuana when police raided his Winnipeg home.
Unfortunately for Schellenberg, he didn't have a licence to show
police, as it was lost in the mail, a casualty of last summer's postal strike.
Schellenberg pleaded guilty to one count of production of marijuana
Tuesday and was fined $1,500.
"He had a licence," said defence lawyer Greg Brodsky. "What he didn't
anticipate was that it wouldn't come because of a postal strike."
[continues 185 words]
Re: Robert Sharpe's letter (Regulate 'soft' drugs, Dec. 7) proposing
the legal sale of marijuana while continuing the prohibition of hard
drugs. Even if pot were legalized, drug peddlers would continue to
sell it, as they do now, to children too young to buy it legally,
while still exposing them to hard drugs. Selective legalization is
equivalent to permitting the sale of wine and beer, while keeping
spirits illegal. It leaves criminals in control of a lucrative
market, while exposing addicts to all kinds of risks. Helping kids
avoid drugs should be the responsibility of parents in conjunction
with anti-drug public-service announcements.
Over 500 New Prison Spaces Slated for Manitoba
As the federal government's bill C-10, aka the
Safe Streets and Communities Act, is poised to
make its way to the Senate, opposition of the
omnibus crime bill shows no sign of slowing down.
The bill is currently in its third and final
reading in the House of Commons, before going to a final vote on Monday.
On Nov. 25, Justin Pich=E9, an assistant professor
of sociology at Memorial University, gave a
lecture at the U of M via Skype titled =93Building
Our Way Towards Safer Communities? Prison
Capacity Expansion and the Need for an Alternative Approach.=94
[continues 802 words]
Re: the editorial Mr. Harper's marijuana pipe dream (Dec. 2). There
is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting
children from drugs. Decriminalization acknowledges the social
reality of marijuana and frees users from the stigma of
life-shattering criminal records. What's really needed is a regulated
market with age controls.
Separating the hard- and soft-drug markets is critical. As long as
organized crime controls marijuana distribution, consumers will
continue to come into contact with sellers of hard drugs such as
cocaine and heroin. This "gateway" is a direct result of marijuana prohibition.
[continues 78 words]
There can be no illusion about the enormous costs of the Harper
government's tough-on-crime agenda -- locking more people up for
longer periods will add tens of millions of dollars more every year
to the tab. Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page, in fact, has
estimated all the government's new measures combined, including the
elimination of double credit for pre-sentence jail time, will cost
billions more annually.
Attorney General Andrew Swan's demand now for more cash from Ottawa
to share the cost of legal aid that will rise when the federal
omnibus crime bill is passed is a sign of poor strategy. Manitoba's
NDP government has been leading the charge for many of the amendments
that will get tougher on criminals. Negotiating costs ought to have
been part of the lobby early.
[continues 261 words]
Coincidental with word that a British Columbia seed company has won
second place at the annual High Times Cannabis Cup in the
Netherlands, comes news of a speech delivered by Prime Minister
Stephen Harper in Vancouver defending Canada's get-tough laws against
the use of that drug.
The two countries could hardly have different approaches to how to
deal with the problem of drugs. Both agree that drug use is a
definite problem, just as the abuse of alcohol and tobacco is a
problem. In Holland, however, the sale and use of marijuana and
hashish are controlled and regulated -- one does not need to go to
the Mob to buy, for example, Hydra, the hashish that was crossbred
between the strains Warlock and Haoma and brought the silver medal to
Canada this week.
[continues 299 words]
Like those generals who used to discover nuclear weapons were not a
good thing about 20 minutes after they took off their uniforms and
started collecting their pensions, we have had a parade of former
presidents who knew that the war on drugs was a bad thing -- but only
mentioned it after they were already ex-presidents. Now, at last, we
have one who is saying it out loud while he is still in office.
President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, the country that has
suffered even more than Mexico from the drug wars, is an honest and
serious man. He is also very brave, because any political leader who
advocates the legalization of narcotics will become a prime target of
the prohibition industry. He has chosen to do it anyway.
[continues 772 words]
About 250 people rallied against the Harper government's omnibus crime
bill outside the Manitoba Legislative Building today.
Speakers and people in the crowd said the anti-crime measures in the
bill, currently before Parliament, will only put more people into jail
for minor crimes and ratchet up prison costs at the expense of social
Former city police officer Bill VanderGraaf, who now represents Law
Enforcement Against Prohibition, said the bill is a form of bullying
particularly against medical marijuana users.
[continues 267 words]
Re: Tories put MDs on the hook for pot (Oct. 30). As a therapeutic
herb, or natural health product, cannabis cannot be subjected to the
sort of clinical trials applied to pharmaceuticals.
More important, herbs cannot be patented, so there is no incentive
for private pharmaceutical companies to shepherd them through the
expensive drug-approval process.
Cannabis, however, already surpasses the accepted standards for
natural health products. According to the U.S. Institute of Medicine,
the benefit-risk profile of cannabis is well within that of many
commonly used pharmaceutical drugs. A far greater number of studies
have already demonstrated the health benefits and safety of cannabis
than exist for such medical standbys as Aspirin, penicillin and codeine.
[continues 136 words]
Craig Jones' commendable article Gang wars -- the law is to blame
(Oct. 4) exposes prohibition's folly well enough. However, it's past
time for governments to "commission" an "analysis" of how well
prohibition is performing. Anyone who doesn't know prohibition is
destructive, at every facet, may not be fit to run a government.
Prohibition, specifically cannabis (marijuana) prohibition, is a
monster that must be put to death. Political leaders must stop feeding
the monster. Citizens must stop feeding politicians who feed the monster.
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz says, "We know that gangs are in Winnipeg,
just like they are in every city in North America, big and small, and
we're going to have to deal with it... I don't think they're going to
go anywhere," (National Post, Oct. 2).
The mayor's fatalism is misplaced. It's true that gangs are ubiquitous
in human communities, and always have been, but criminally violent
gangs are a creation of failed public policy. They are the unintended,
but completely predictable, consequences of drug prohibition -- just
as they were the unintended but completely predictable consequences of
alcohol prohibition in the 20th-Century. Why is this?
[continues 400 words]
Reading Craig Jones's Oct. 4 article, Gang wars -- the law is to
blame, prompts me to expand on his observation that gangs resort to
internecine violence to protect drug profits. While I completely agree
with him, the corollary is worth mentioning.
Drug-related criminal behaviour is a frequent motivator for armed
robbery, burglary and street muggings, committed by desperate addicts
seeking funds for their next fix.
The ludicrous response from authorities who call for more police and
harsher penalties is shown to be without any merit when one considers
that police states such as Singapore impose the death penalty for
possession of more than 15 grams of heroin, and yet still execute
about two dozen people a year for drug offences alone.
The government's tough-on-crime stance relating to drugs reminds me of
an Albert Einstein quote. The definition of insanity is doing the same
thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Drug addicts in Vancouver's downtown east side now have the
protection of the Supreme Court of Canada to avail themselves of a
medical facility, the Insite clinic, where they may inject themselves
with heroin under medical supervision.
Now: What about drug addicts in the country's prisons? Can they
expect the court's ruling to change the way they are treated?
This is no academic question but one which the members of the House
of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and Security may soon be seized.
[continues 483 words]
The Supreme Court of Canada on Friday shredded the Harper government's
vacuous arguments for shutting down North America's first
government-sanctioned safe-injection site and ordered Health Minister
Leona Aglukkaq to immediately exempt Vancouver's Insite from federal
drug laws. It was the third time a panel of jurists has ruled against
Ottawa and its bewildering agenda to close a clinic that has cut
disease and death among thousands of addicts in Vancouver's Downtown
After five years of fighting, the staff at Insite now can simply
concentrate on doing their job. It is not easy work. Most Canadians
can be led to see the value of a clinic that opens its doors to
addicts who otherwise share needles to shoot up in darkened doorways
and alleys. But how many could tolerate the sight of a pregnant woman
frantic to find a good vein to deliver another hit of cocaine?
Instinctively, Canadians expect swift intervention to protect the vulnerable.
[continues 519 words]
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is getting tougher on pot growers than
he is on rapists of children. Under the Tories' omnibus crime
legislation tabled Tuesday, a person growing 201 pot plants in a
rental unit would receive a longer mandatory sentence than someone who
rapes a toddler or forces a five-year-old to have sex with an animal.
Producing six to 200 pot plants nets an automatic six-month sentence,
with an extra three months if it's done in a rental or is deemed a
public-safety hazard. Growing 201 to 500 plants brings a one-year
sentence, or 11/2 years if it's in a rental or poses a safety risk.
[continues 451 words]
AUTHORITIES at Stony Mountain Institution are grappling with a
sky-high number of drug packages being tossed in over the fence.
And they're asking the public to help thwart the "throw-overs."
In the past month at the medium-security federal prison, marijuana,
hashish, cocaine and pharmaceuticals with a behind-bars value of more
than $47,000 have been seized as a result of outsiders' attempts to
lob packages into the exercise yard, the Correctional Service of
Canada (CSC) said.
[continues 263 words]
Manitoba's highest court is weighing whether to reinstate perjury
charges against two Winnipeg police officers who walked free on an
unusual legal technicality.
Const. Peter O'Kane and Const. Jess Zebrun were cleared last February
of any criminal wrongdoing in a decision that likely saved their
careers. Their lawyers successfully filed a motion for a dismissal of
the case, saying the Crown attorney failed to have any of his
witnesses properly identify the two accused in court, as required by
[continues 502 words]
Decriminalizing pot could help squelch gang rivalry, add to tax
Depending on your perspective, the summer of 2011 is either the most
amazing in recent memory or one of Winnipeg's worst.
On one hand, it's been so hot and sunny in the Red River Valley this
summer, the mayor of Phoenix is probably thinking about spending a
holiday in Winnipeg for a change.
The mosquitoes are all but non-existent. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are
Even better, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are 1-7. According to a joke
making the rounds on Twitter, Mosaic Stadium in Regina has been
declared a tornado shelter, as touchdowns are considered so unlikely
[continues 860 words]
Canada's association of lawyers is justifiably worried about the
effect new sentencing laws will have on aboriginal offenders. The
mandatory minimums for some offences in the federal government's
proposed omnibus crime bill run contrary to the philosophy that
reasonable, alternative measures to jail ought to be canvassed where
appropriate. And with disproportionately more aboriginal people
charged with crimes, they are likely to feel the effect
If Canada's jails begin filling up because the Harper Tories aim to
throw more people found guilty of selling marijuana in the slammer --
one target of mandatory minimums -- they are bound to house more
aboriginal people, particularly on the Prairies where native
populations are higher.
[continues 259 words]
THE prison population in Canada is expected to grow by more than 30
per cent in the next few years. Ironically, this is not because the
crime rate is increasing. The crime rate is actually going down. It is
because the federal government has concluded fewer people should spend
more time in jail so that it can appear that Stephen Harper's
Conservatives are getting tough on crime, as they have long threatened
to do but were prevented from doing by their minority status.
[continues 360 words]