HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Lawyer Fights 'Totalitarian' Grow-Op Law
Pubdate: Wed, 23 Apr 2008
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Gerry Bellett, Staff Writer


Act Allowed Inspector To Cut Power To House Of Hells Angels

SURREY - The lawyer acting for a Hells Angels associate whose home was
targeted by municipal inspectors looking for a marijuana growing
operation argued in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday that such searches
should only be authorized by a warrant.

Jason Arkinstall has launched an action against Surrey for the actions
of the RCMP and municipal inspectors that resulted in power to his
home being cut off in May 2007, because he wouldn't let police
officers into his home.

Fire officials, police and municipal inspectors went to his home after
BC Hydro alerted them that power consumption there was above average,
which indicated there could be a marijuana growing operation underway.

They demanded access to the home under a section of the Safety
Standards Amendment Act, which permits such searches to uncover unsafe
power applications.

Arkinstall refused to allow police in but let in a BC Hydro inspector
who found nothing wrong. But the inspector was then ordered by
municipal officials to cut power to the home.

Arkinstall's home was without power until he obtained a court order to
have the power turned on five days later.

His lawyer, Joseph Arvay, is seeking to have the B.C. Supreme Court
overturn the provincial government's amendments to the Safety
Standards Act, which were designed to allow police officers access to
homes where marijuana is suspected of being cultivated without going
through the lengthy process of obtaining a search warrant issued under
the Criminal Code.

Police have complained that the sheer numbers of homes being used to
grow marijuana in B.C. make it impossible for them to use the search
warrant process to close them down.

However, Arvay said the authorities could use an administrative search
warrant issued by a justice of the peace, which is used to gain access
to buildings for safety and other reasons.

He said the provincial government was attempting to substitute
provincial law for criminal law -- which can only be approved by the
Canadian Parliament.

Allowing a safety officer the right to enter a home based solely on
power consumption with the right for the authorities to shut off power
if the resident refuses was an unreasonable interference in a
citizen's right to privacy, he said.

"That kind of criminal law you would expect to find in a totalitarian
state," said Arvay.

If the changes to the legislation were about safety they would be
targeted at those homes where power is stolen using a bypass system,
which poses the greatest risk of causing a fire, he said.

"The purpose of this legislation is to go after the Mom and Pop
operations -- people who call themselves gardeners who are growing pot
for their own use or for their friends or to make a little money on
the side -- not the gangs," he said.

Arvay said Surrey would argue that if people have nothing to hide,
they shouldn't object to being inspected.

"People with nothing to hide should never be put in a position to be
required to let someone into their home or have their power cut and be
put out of their home," he said.

The case continues.
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