HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Police
Pubdate: Sat, 07 Feb 2004
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Sarah O'Donnell


EDMONTON - Local efforts to curb illegal drug use are being complicated by 
the federal government's mixed message on marijuana, a high-ranking 
Edmonton police officer said Friday.

"Messages that may be coming from some prevention programs don't 
necessarily jibe with the message from the feds. Of course that's 
problematic," deputy chief Mike Bradshaw said.

"I'm sure there are some young people that are out there now who believe 
the possession of a small amount of marijuana is OK."

Bradshaw made the comments after a private meeting organized by Mayor Bill 
Smith that brought participants from organizations like the Alberta 
Solicitor General's office, the Capital Health Authority, the Alberta 
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission and the local school boards together to 
discuss ways to collectively combat drug use in the city.

It was the group's third meeting since Smith called on all Edmontonians to 
declare a "war on drugs" in October. He issued the call to action after an 
incident which police described as a drug deal gone bad left a third young 
man dead in four weeks.

At previous meetings, participants agreed there could be better 
coordination between all the agencies that have a role in fighting drug 
use. Friday, they worked to identify problem areas and the best way to move 

Smith said he hopes the efforts will lead to a "made in Edmonton" anti-drug 
strategy that focuses on education, intervention, enforcement and treatment.

The federal government could help local efforts by clarifying its 
intentions towards marijuana legislation, Bradshaw said on Friday.

The federal government is considering decriminalizing marijuana so that 
anyone caught with possession of a small amount would be ticketed, not 
taken to court on a criminal charge.

Police Chief Bob Wasylyshen and Smith are both on record opposing any such 

But local organizations also can do a great deal of work to help 
themselves, Bradshaw said.

"We tend to paint ourselves into a corner and we police would just deal 
with the enforcement aspect," Bradshaw said. "We're saying, you know what, 
our role probably goes much beyond that."

For example, he said, if police recognize someone is at risk of illegal 
drug use, but has yet to do anything that requires police intervention, it 
would help to know where to direct that person to go for help.
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