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Pubdate: Mon, 12 Apr 2004
Source: Coquitlam Now, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004Lower Mainland Publishing Group, Inc.
Author: Pamela Sharif


Re: "Coleman says marijuana grow ops the cash flow for organized crime," 
March 20.

Sixty members of the community listened to politicians and police talk 
about what is being done to stop the proliferation of grow ops in the Lower 
Mainland. Sigh ...

First of all, I hardly think that 60 people at a forum is a good enough 
sample of the community to base any sort of criticism on any subject 
pertaining to the major population that does not attend these events.

My beef isn't with the people who attended, though. They obviously care 
deeply enough about their families that they want their voices heard. The 
subject affects them in their homes and neighborhoods. They should be 

My beef is with the politicians, namely Rich Coleman and Mayor Jon 
Kingsbury because of their comments. I also have a tough time swallowing 
what the police have to say on the matter.

With election time coming up soon, politicians wouldn't want to spark too 
much controversy over their current efforts on the subject. It's best to 
step aside quickly and let the police handle the situation.

Who's in charge here anyway? I hope it's not the police. This isn't a 
police state yet. I hope it's "the people" in charge and the courts who 
care for their best interests.

I gather from what I read in the article that the police have a keen 
interest in acquiring new little toys to combat what they say is the evil 
of marijuana. Kingsbury seems to be their buddy, fueling them along. I 
guess those casino funds from addicted gamblers come in handy when 
supplying the police with their toys.

Secondly, I wanted to touch upon the main problem, which is the way many in 
this community feel about the issue of cannabis and its legalization. I 
appreciated that reporter Ron Devitt managed to attach a short ditty at the 
end of the article stating the other side of the argument. Sigh again. I 
would have liked to hear more of what Roderick Louis had to say.

MLA Richard Stewart was noticeably upset with Louis's call for 
decriminalization because it contradicts what he wants to see happen with 
the issue. Louis said, "It's time there was some constructive talk about 
the decriminalization of cannabis and putting it on the same level as 
alcohol in this society." I couldn't agree with him more. We need to hear 
from everyone on this issue, not just a handful of opportunists and 
self-proclaimed do-gooders.

The issue as I see it isn't a hard one to grasp. There is a very widespread 
use of marijuana in this province, this country and worldwide. A large 
portion of this world's society also uses alcohol. It's funny to think that 
alcohol is legal and marijuana is not, that you can die from consuming too 
much of the aforementioned and not the latter.

Yet, it's legal to consume alcohol because the government says it's okay. I 
find their reasoning a bit confusing.

The decriminalization of marijuana would lead to a more controlled 
environment for growing it. It could then be monitored by safety 
regulations. It would take a large bite out of organized crime making large 
profits to fund themselves. It would also take a huge burden off of our 
court systems. The police could actually use their time more effectively to 
focus on bigger issues that concern the public, such as violent crimes.

They are wrong when they try to lump marijuana in with crack cocaine and 
there needs to be more discussion all the way around the issue. I say this 
because almost one in four people I meet smokes marijuana, medicinally or 
for pleasure. Medicinally, to help ease the symptoms of an illness. 
Pleasure, to relieve the stresses of the day or to socialize - the same way 
alcohol is consumed. I have met individuals from all walks of life who 
consume it. This is why there are so many grow ops. There is a demand for it.

I look forward to seeing a national referendum on the issue. We may then 
put this issue into better perspective for the population.

- - Pamela Sharif is a Port Moody resident and mother of two.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart