HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Judge Blames Pot In Fatal Stabbing
Pubdate: Thu, 30 Sep 2004
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2004, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Ingrid Peritz


MONTREAL -- Marijuana, a drug viewed as so harmless that Canada is moving to
decriminalize possessing it, is being blamed for driving a Quebec man to
stab his roommate to death in a paranoid rage.

A Quebec Superior Court judge imposed an eight-year prison sentence
yesterday on Martin Veilleux for an unhinged and unprovoked attack on his
friend last March.

"I think it's useful to emphasize that in this specific case, the marijuana
consumed by Veilleux on March 4 and 5, 2003, was at the very least the
catalyst that led him to commit a thoughtless and devastating act," Mr.
Justice Gilles Hebert said in his ruling.

Usually described in terms such as mellow and laid back, marijuana received
a contrasting assessment from medical experts cited in the case. They said
pot bought on the streets these days is often sprinkled with the psychedelic
drug phencyclidine, or PCP. Further, the pot that Mr. Veilleux ingested may
have also had a high concentration of THC, marijuana's active ingredient.

Whatever was in it, the drug made Mr. Veilleux paranoid, aggressive and
irritable, psychiatrist Louis Morissette concluded in a report submitted to
the court. The questionable composition prompted a withering critique by
Judge Hebert.

"What terms, what words, what vocabulary must we use to sensitize the public
to the sometimes unpredictable consequences of the consumption of marijuana
or other drugs whose contents, composition and THC content are completely

Mr. Veilleux, 31, is no stranger to drug use. Starting with glue sniffing at
age 9, he is a lifelong substance abuser and has undergone eight detox
treatments and numerous psychiatric sessions.

His drug-laced history prompted a national marijuana proponent to express
disappointment at Judge Hebert's ruling linking the death, which occurred on
Montreal's South Shore, to pot.

"It sounds like we're back in the age of Reefer Madness," Marc-Boris
St.-Maurice, leader of the federal Marijuana Party, said referring to the
classic anti-pot film. He said the problem of the doubtful content of
marijuana could be solved if the substance were legalized and given proper
Health Canada labelling.

"Marijuana is one of the safest drugs being used today. It is top of the
list -- safer than alcohol, tobacco, cocaine and maybe safer than coffee for
all we know," he said.

Mr. Veilleux's marijuana use became a mitigating factor in his punishment.
The 31-year-old was originally charged with second-degree murder, but
pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter after a plea bargain.
Crown prosecutor Claude Labrecque said in an interview that, given Mr.
Veilleux's drug-induced state, convincing a jury that he intended to murder
his friend would have been difficult.
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