HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html The War Against Drugs
Pubdate: Fri, 12 Apr 2002
Source: Sudbury Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Sudbury Star
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)



Focusing Drug Enforcement Efforts On All Drug Use May Not Be The Best Use 
Of Police Resources

The three police forces operating in Sudbury are collaborating to "do what 
it takes" to fight the war against drugs. Called Project Digger, the RCMP, 
the Ontario Provincial Police and the Greater Sudbury Police Service plan 
to crack down on drug producers, dealers and users in the Sudbury area, 
promises Sudbury Police Chief Alex McCauley.

Officials for all three police services said the increasing role of 
organized crime in the local drug trade has made it necessary for police to 
step up the level of enforcement. This means working more closely together 
to do in combination what it is harder to do separately.

Keeping those in organized crime "looking over their shoulders at all 
times," as Marty VanDoren, the RCMP's deputy criminal investigations 
officer for Ontario Region, called it, will be the new priority. The growth 
of organized crime in Sudbury links much of the local drug trade to groups 
outside of Sudbury, and it only makes sense that local police should work 
shoulder to shoulder with police in wider jurisdictions as well.

Not everyone out there, though, is a big-time "player" on the drug scene. 
While the combination of drug abuse and organized crime has been linked to 
other, often more serious, crimes -- theft, assault, burglary, prostitution 
- -- that does not characterize all drug use.

Drug use is limited to a small minority of the population, McCauley said. 
Really? If that is so, why have the police come across so many marijuana 
growing operations in northeastern Ontario? The indoor marijuana industry 
has become the province's third-largest agricultural sector, eclipsed only 
by dairy and beef producers. Clearly there is significant demand for it, 
even here in Sudbury, and much of it is recreational.

On its face, Project Digger seems worthy. But how effective it will be will 
depend on how police balance the war against drugs with the war against 
organized crime.

There's been a steady, low-key push for the decriminalization of "soft 
drugs" in Canada for several years now. That doesn't mean legalization -- 
it simply means the possession of small quantities of marijuana for 
personal use becomes a misdemeanour, akin to getting a traffic ticket. Even 
the Canadian Medical Association has called for marijuana to be taken out 
of the Criminal Code and made subject only to a small fine.

Certainly, a lot of marijuana smokers in Sudbury would fall into this 
category. Using police resources to chase after them does not seem like a 
productive use of their time. Not all drug use can be traced back to 
organized crime. Focusing on both, with as broad a net as McCauley 
suggests, will not be easy. This is certainly true considering the 
financial constraints McCauley has recently claimed local police work under.

Crimes against people and property seem to be more pressing matters today. 
And certainly, fighting organized crime as it entrenches itself in Sudbury 
is laudable, too. But to declare an all-out war on drugs seems problematic, 
as has been the case everywhere else it's been tried.
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