HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Where There's Pot Smoke, There's Abbotsford's Ire
Pubdate: Sat, 28 Aug 2004
Source: Abbotsford News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Hacker Press Ltd.
Author: Joe Millican
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


The City of Abbotsford wants the courts to get tough on local
marijuana producers and traffickers.

The city is putting forward a resolution to the Union of B.C.
Municipalities' (UBCM) annual convention next month, calling for a
harder line to be taken against those found guilty of growing or
distributing pot.

If approved, the city proposal will be used by the UBCM to lobby the
provincial government.

The written Abbotsford submission seeks "harsher penalties for persons
involved in the growing and distribution of illicit drugs."

It adds: "The leniency of sentencing provisions in the courts is not
acting as a deterrent for illegal grow operations."

Speaking in favour of the resolution, Abbotsford Mayor Mary Reeves
also spoke out against the legalization and decriminalization of
marijuana. Her comments fly in the face of statements made by Prime
Minister Paul Martin in July.

At that time, Martin said legislation decriminalizing minor quantities
of marijuana for personal use would be introduced by the federal Liberals.

According to the proposed Liberal legislation, anyone caught with 15
grams or less of pot would receive a ticket instead of criminal
charges. Those caught trafficking more than 15 grams would receive
harsher penalties.

Opponents of the legislation calculate the 15- gram limit would allow
someone to carry more than 30 joints at a time.

Reeves criticized the Liberal plan.

"I am not sure where he (Martin) is coming from," Reeves said." "Drug
use is huge - it is a major problem. "I can not support the
legalization or decriminalization of any drug until some (prevention)
things are in place.

"Too many young people are getting into this (drugs) and what we
(Canada) are spending on prevention is deplorable."

Part of the pro-decriminalization argument stems from a belief that
decriminalizing marijuana would actually relieve pressure on police
forces and help reduce crime levels.

Reeves disagrees.

"Young people think it is OK, and do not think there is any backlash
from smoking marijuana or any other drug," she said.

"It (drug use) is just frightening. At the end of the day, this is all
about organized crime. You can decriminalize until the cows come home,
but it's an epidemic."

The same Abbotsford resolution asks that the UBCM petition the
minister of community, aboriginal and women's services to "empower
local governments" to prosecute landowners who permit marijuana and
other illegal drug producers on their properties.

It also requests that more money come back to the municipality from
marijuana busts.

That is a proposal that is "widely supported," according to Reeves,
who says cities that have RCMP detachments receive 10 per cent of
their annual budget from the federal government.

However, those with municipal detachments - such as Abbotsford and
Vancouver - do not receive this benefit, she said.

Tim Felger, an Abbotsford pro-marijuana advocate, agrees with Reeves
that decriminalization is not an answer to resolving the drug debate.
Unlike Reeves, however, Felger is pressing for full marijuana

Felger, who stood in Abbotsford for the Marijuana Party during the
June 28 federal election, also believes that a resolution that calls
for stricter penalties is an inappropriate course of action.

The UBCM conference runs from Sept. 21 to 24 at the Grand Okanagan
Conference Centre in Kelowna. A total of 194 resolutions have been
forwarded by B.C. municipalities.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin