HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Grow-Ops Pose 'Serious Threat' To Public Safety
Pubdate: Wed, 03 Nov 2004
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: James Gordon, The Ottawa Citizen
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Marijuana Still Illegal, Users 'Pretty Stupid,' Mclellan Says

The federal government is committed to eradicating marijuana grow
operations and people who smoke marijuana are "stupid," Public Safety
Minister Anne McLellan said yesterday.

"I see grow-ops as one of the single biggest problems we face in our
communities -- they do represent a serious threat to public safety,"
Ms. McLellan told Canada's first national conference on the illicit
operations, which opened yesterday in Ottawa.

She suggested delegates at the RCMP-hosted two-day event embrace
further integration of law enforcement agencies to better combat
large-scale cultivators.

Ms. McLellan, who is also deputy prime minister, later denied the
Liberal government's move toward decriminalizing marijuana was
counterproductive to the objectives of the conference.

"The message, whether it's from me, whether it's from the minister of
justice, the minister of health, is that marijuana continues to be
illegal in this country, and you're pretty stupid, in most cases, if
you smoke it," Ms. McLellan said.

"The jury's still out" when it comes to the drug's medicinal effects,
she said.

The minister told delegates that the government reintroduced its
cannabis reform legislation Monday. If passed, it would double the
maximum sentence for large-scale cultivation to 14 years in prison.

Judges would have to submit, in writing, their reasons for not
imposing prison terms for some large-scale cultivators.

She pledged to members of the RCMP, municipal police forces and
private-sector insurance and hydro companies that courts will get the
message on the seriousness of the situation.

RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli said most grow-houses are not
"ma-and-pa" operations, but dangerous organized crime businesses.

"We are not just talking about a simple crime," he said. "These grow
operations are related to the murders that take place in our streets,
to the serious harm that happens to the fabric of this nation."

The RCMP said last week's Supreme Court ruling permitting infrared
surveillance without a warrant won't result in increased use of the
devices. "It's used judiciously, it's used with the privacy of our
citizens in mind, it's not used randomly," said Chief Supt. Raf
Souccar, the director-general for drugs and organized crime. "We
welcome the decision. The decision will help us get our job done with
greater ease."
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