HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Grow-Op Statement Speaks For Whole City
Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2004
Source: Chilliwack Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Chilliwack Times
Author: Mike Chouinard
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


The city's public safety advisory committee wants to send a message to
judges that grow-ops are not a victimless crime.

They have put together a lengthy victim impact statement for the
entire city that can be read at acourt whenever convicted marijuana
growers are sentenced.

Generally, victim impact statements are submitted by specific
individuals to tell judges how they have been affected by a crime.

"In most trials the victim is allowed to have a voice," Coun. Sharon
Gaetz said.

In the case of grow-ops it might be some unsuspecting landlord whose
property has been ruined by tenants with marijuana operations. There
has been a victim impact statement for a number of years for such

The twist with the public safety committee's plan is that they want
the police to read in statements on behalf of the community as a whole.

Gaetz, who chairs the committee, said growing operations in the
community affect everyone, not just the people with property at stake.

"It's a crime against everybody who pays tax dollars," she

The document the committee has devised covers a number of ways the
city as a whole is harmed by these underground enterprises.

The 1,200-word statement outlines the growth of grow-ops in the city,
the links to organized crime, and the increased risk to police
officers, hydroelectric employees and firefighters from stolen
electricity, the increased presence of weapons and potential for house
fires. It even points to the harm caused to the environment from
chemicals dumped into drainage systems or backyards.

The statement also points to the growing trend of Canadian marijuana
being shipped to the U.S. with other drugs coming back here. This was
a point Solicitor General Rich Coleman touched on during a talk in
Chilliwack last week.

"We send our dope south and cocaine comes north," he

The public safety committee is hoping if judges hear how the whole
community is hurt they will hand out stiffer penalties and perhaps
curb the boom in illegal marijuana growing.

Gaetz said that at present the punishment meted out to marijuana
growers, often just fines, is not severe enough, especially when
compared to sentences south of the border.

"Here it's a slap on the wrist," she said. "It's just a business
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