The head of Edmonton's Police Service looks ahead to 2018 with
skepticism around supervised consumption sites,
Edmonton Police Service Chief Rod Knecht says police have had a good
but "extremely busy" year. Metro asked him about some of the year's
biggest stories and what to expect in 2018. The interview has been
edited for space.
Metro: Cannabis will be legal July 1. Has EPS backed off marijuana
related arrests since legalization was announced?
We're busy. Obviously there's lots of crimes, and we enforce crime on
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The anti-narcotics police arrived here in the heart of Colombia's
cocaine industry last month to destroy the coca crop. The community
was determined to save it.
Roughly 1,000 farmers, some armed with clubs, surrounded the hilltop
camp that police had set up in a jungle clearing and began closing in
on the officers.
The police started shooting. When they were done, seven farmers were
dead and 21 were wounded.
"Several friends and neighbors died on the ground waiting for medical
assistance," said Luis Gaitan, 32, who protected himself by hiding
behind a tree stump.
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If St. Paul, one of the most virulent and effective enemies of early
Christians could pull off the greatest about face in history and
become the religion's most prolific proponent, then who am I to argue
with former Toronto police chief Julian Fantino as a shill for the
Fantino, the macho, no-nonsense, law-and-order tough guy from Vaughan
stood at a podium in his city Tuesday singing the virtues of - pot.
Yes, he used to bust men and women, boys and girls - locked them up
for smoking a joint or a spliff - ignoring the haze of vibe-inducing
smoke and the good vibes of the "natural mystic flowing in the air,"
riding the Rasta rhythms of Bob Marley or the raw rhetoric of Peter
Tosh's Legalize it. That was then.
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One of the Trudeau government's stated policy goals for ending
marijuana prohibition is to divert the profits reaped by gangsters
toward legitimate shareholders. But an investigation by Greg McArthur
and Molly Hayes offers a glimpse into the insidious nature of
organized crime, finding that criminal groups easily exploited
loopholes in the federal government's old medical-marijuana licensing
In the late afternoon of March 14 in the Toronto suburb of Woodbridge,
a masked gunman jumped out of the passenger side of a black Jeep
Cherokee, darted across a snow-dusted parking lot and unleashed a
flurry of bullets into a black BMW. Thirty seconds later, he was back
in the car, leaving Saverio Serrano - the son of a notorious Canadian
Mafia figure and cocaine importer - wounded, and Mr. Serrano's
28-year-old girlfriend dead.
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President Trump's declaration of a national opioid crisis creates an
opportunity to bring greater focus and more resources to a scourge
that is killing an average of almost 150 people a day. (Getty Images)
President Trump's recent declaration recognizing the opioid crisis
acknowledges something people have been saying for years. It remains
to be seen whether this new development opens up more resources.
The opioid epidemic is ravaging a generation of mostly young people,
although older people are not immune. There are an estimated 2.6
million opioid addicts in the United States.
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Here's an idea what to do about all those illegal drugs that are
confiscated, and the drug dealers they arrest in the process. Put it
all in a cargo plane and send all of it to ISIS. Give the terrorists
all the drugs, along with the dealers. This would save a lot of
manpower, bullets, and not having to store any of the evidence
anywhere, where it could only take up space the authorities don't
have. Never mind all the money we, the taxpayer, can all save on not
having trials for the criminals. And the jail time they may get. At
the same time, we solve our terrorist wars and troubles. Another
saving on the taxpayers wallets.
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'Co-ordinated approach' begins on revenue tools
OTTAWA * As the country's finance ministers meet in Ottawa, the
Trudeau government should expect to hear concerns about the added
burden marijuana legalization could heap onto provincial shoulders.
The agenda for the two-day, federal-provincial-territorial gathering,
which started Sunday, will include discussions on how best to apply
taxes on a regulated market for cannabis.
The federal government introduced legislation in April with a goal of
legalizing and regulating the use of recreational marijuana by July
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In Heather Mac Donald's "Mandatory Minimums Don't Deserve Your Ire"
(op-ed, May 26) about mandatory minimum sentences (MMS), she writes
that 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentences are only given to
large-scale traffickers. In 2004 I was sentenced to 55 years in
federal prison for selling $1,000 worth of marijuana while possessing
a firearm. The judge who sentenced me called my punishment "unjust,
cruel and even irrational" and compared it to the much shorter federal
sentences given to repeat child rapists, murderers and even some terrorists.
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Be careful! This is the message to users of illegal drugs from a
community-wide education and awareness campaign that includes a
website, www.FentanylCAnKill.ca .
Drug overdoses have killed hundreds of people in British Columbia. The
most recent report shows that 120 died in March of this year.
The local campaign is in response to a spate of opioid
One day last October, Brantford police and paramedics were called to
three separate incidents, involving four people who overdosed on
fentanyl. That day was similar to an overnight incident in June when
there were four fentanyl overdoses and one death in the city.
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Be careful! This was the message to users of illegal drugs from the
North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit. Drug overdoses have killed
hundreds of people in British Columbia. The most recent report shows
that 120 died in March of this year.
The local warning came as a result of a man using tainted cocaine. He
was taken to the North Bay Regional Health Centre. He was given large
doses of naloxone. It probably saved his life. Drug users are being
told to have a friend standing by when they ingest drugs. If something
goes wrong the friend can dial 911 and perhaps save a life.
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A prison sentence of up to 14 years for providing cannabis to youth is
shaping up as one of the early points of contention as the Liberal
government prepares to defend its landmark legislation to legalize
Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, makes clear in its opening passages that
the main purpose of the legislation is to prevent young people from
Those opening statements are backed up with stiff penalties, including
imprisonment for up to 14 years for providing marijuana to someone 17
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People in 29 states can legally use medical marijuana for a variety of
problems, including the relief of pain, anxiety or stress. But what if
they want to travel with it?
Secure airport areas beyond the Transportation Security Administration
checkpoints are under federal control, and the federal government
classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 (most harmful) substance, even in
states where it is legal for adults to consume it.
The laws conflict, but federal law trumps state law, making it illegal
to fly with marijuana in carry-on or checked luggage. It is also
illegal to transport marijuana across state lines, even if both states
have legalized it.
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Some columns are hard to write because it's almost impossible to stop
watching the events that propel them.
That's the way it was with Monday's emergency legislature debate on
opioid addiction and deaths.
It was fascinating, emotional, moving and very informative. It might
have surprised many Albertans who think politicians have no clue about
MLAs on all sides - Wildrose, PC, Alberta Party, Liberal and NDP -
have seen the carnage close up.
Progressive Conservative MLA Rick Fraser, a former EMS worker,
recalled arriving at a residence to find a 14-year-old boy who'd
seemed perfectly normal when he arrived home, only to die shortly
afterward in the basement.
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HMCS Saskatoon deployed Feb. 20, beginning its latest contribution to
Operation Caribbe, Canada's decade-long contribution to the
multinational campaign against illicit trafficking by transnational
organized crime in the Caribbean sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean.
The Kingston-Class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel and its crew are
fulfilling Canada's commitment to Operation Martillo - the
United-States led multinational effort among Western Hemisphere and
European nations aimed at drug interdiction and counter smuggling
operations in the area.
"By preventing the flow of illicit drugs and denying unlawful access
to the sea, our sailors are effectively interrupting a major funding
source for organized crime," said Lieutenant-Commander Todd Bacon,
Commanding Officer HMCS Saskatoon. "Our mission success during these
operations is a result of the continued support our sailors receive
from their family, friends and colleagues back home."
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A pot bust against legal growers in Yolo County seems to go too far
If ever you needed proof that we live in an age of confusion about
marijuana laws, let me share with you the story of Ted Hicks and Ryan
Mears, two Sacramento-area entrepreneurs who decided to start a legal
medical cannabis business last year and ended up on the business end
of assault rifles wielded by officers from a multi-agency, anti-drug
I first heard about the case from Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor in
September, at a "State of Marijuana" conference aboard the Queen Mary
in Long Beach. Saylor, who was on a panel discussing how cities and
counties were dealing with cannabis regulation, said that Hicks and
Mears and their business, Big Red Farms, were considered by county
officials to be "shining stars" in the cannabis licensing arena.
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- -- and says he's done it before
In his latest controversial statement, Philippine President Rodrigo
Duterte, known for his bloody anti-drug war that has killed thousands,
threatened to throw corrupt officials out of a helicopter, saying he has
done it before, to a kidnapper, and won't hesitate to do it again.
"I will pick you up in a helicopter to Manila, and I will throw you out on
the way," Duterte said in Tagalog in front of a crowd in the Camarines Sur
province Tuesday, according to GMA News. "I've done it before. Why would I
not do it again?"
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BEIJING -- U.S. assertions that China is the top source of the synthetic
opioids that have killed thousands of drug users in the U.S. and Canada
are unsubstantiated, Chinese officials told the Associated Press.
Both the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the White House Office
of National Drug Control Policy point to China as North America's main
source of fentanyl, related drugs and the chemicals used to make them.
Such statements "lack the support of sufficient numbers of actual,
confirmed cases," China's National Narcotics Control Commission told DEA's
Beijing field office in a fax dated Friday.
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Deadly synthetic opioids are streaming into the United States amid a flood
of mail that arrives unscreened from abroad every day, overwhelming the
Postal Service and fueling the drug epidemic gripping much of the country,
security experts and Massachusetts lawmakers say.
Nearly 1 million packages a day enter the country without any advance
electronic information that might flag the presence of dangerous opioids
such as fentanyl, much of which is manufactured in China, said Juliette
Kayyem, a former assistant Homeland Security secretary.
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The Canadian government needs to fill more than 200 federal RCMP
vacancies in B.C. to help the province deal with its drug overdose
crisis, B.C.'s director of police services said Monday.
Clayton Pecknold, who co-chairs the province's task force on overdose
response, credited the federal government with introducing legislation
to ease the way for safe consumption sites and prevent the smuggling
of opioids into Canada.
"But there's more they can do," he said. "We are still down in the
number of RCMP officers that we have doing federal drug enforcement in
this province. We'd like to see the federal government act quickly on
filling those positions."
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Suppose 700 people died in a terrorist attack. Would you shrug it off
because it didn't happen near you? Suppose 700 people died from a
toxic chemical sprayed on farm vegetables. Would you still expect to
see those vegetables for sale at your local supermarket?
Not * likely!
So why do we blandly tolerate government foot-dragging on the 700 drug
overdose deaths that will happen in B.C. before the end of this year?
As of October, the province had 622 deaths. Two more months will push
the toll over 700.
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