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New marijuana regulations are a cloud of confusion

By Hempology | May 28, 2003

From the Times Colonist, May 28, 2003

By Don Martin (CanWest News Service)

Cancel those freedom-to-toke parties, potheads. The days of dopey Canadian marijuana
laws have only just begin.

Consider a hardened criminal scenario under the proposed “cannabis reform” legislation
unveiled Tuesday by a trio of tightly scripted (“we are not legalizing marijuana”) cabinet

The pot smoker harvests some leaves from one of four wacky t’backy plants being cultivated
in a nearby farmer’s corn field, grinds it into 35 joints of homegrown high, adjourns
to the patio of a private residence which overlooks the local high school for a happy
sampling. Enter the law. Down comes multiple laws. Add up the damage.

Gosh, Decriminalization never sounded so deadly.

After a royal commission, a Senate committee, a Commons committee and endless studies,
all urging government to stop creating petty criminals out of pot possession, the government
finally had the right idea.

This was the government’s brain: reduce possession to a ticketed fine as a way to unclog
the courts, free up police resources for more serious drug pursuits and prevent a criminal
record from haunting drug-dabbling kids for life.

This was their brain on drugs: Try to please everyone by creating a nightmarish patchwork
of legislated circumstances and variable fines. Substance won’t matter, be it potent
B.C. bud or a pale imitation. Size and location will be everything, right down to
where the nabbed dude was sitting (driver or passenger) in a car.

As Solicitor General Wayne Easter declared: “The intent of the law is for greater
enforcement and for the courts to impose greater penalties.”

Such is the hallucinating effect marijuana has had on federal politicians.
Less law is actually more. Decriminalization is aimed at creating more crimes.
Preserving taxpayers’ cash is about spending more money on inefficient enforcement
and public advertising. And saving police time comes with enhanced police responsibility.

For example, officers who had the discretion to let a dope-tripper off with a verbal
warning are now forced into the role of marijuana meter maid, writing up tickets after
carefully weighing the collective evidence to see if it’s 15 grams ($150 fine) or 20
grams ($400) with added responsibility to decide if the nabbed gets the $50 youth
discount or pays the full adult fine.

Weed cultivation provisions are equally wacky. Get caught growing five plants and you
could rate five years in jail. If the helicopters find your stash of 500 plants, the
guilty grower could get 14 years, a sentence no sane judge would pass in any event.
So the more you grow, the less you serve proportionately.

And pity those poor cannabis cops on anothe front. There’s a commendable push to clamp
down on drivers flying high behind the wheel. While my memory is fuzzy now, the only
driving consequence I can recall was when a buzzing friend got a ticket for driving
too slow on a major highway.

But aside from suspecting a driver doing 40 km/h in a 110-km/h speed zone of being
stoned, police will only have the powers of observation to back up their conviction
with a charge. Glassy eyes and a giddy attitude – the sort of symptoms you might
display driving home after a gruelling week on a Friday evening – will be the only
signs of impairment they can introduce in court.

There’s a budget boost to help them acquire enhanced detection techniques. But
neither Ontario and Quebec, which have privincial police forces, will qualify for a penny
of the RCMP’s $11-million-per-year increase.

And, finally, on the dope delusion front, Justice Minister Martin Cauchon insists his
legislation will pass Parliament by year end. But with the Canadian Alliance vowing
obstruction and a couple dozen Liberal MPs opposed to the ammendment, there’s reason
to believe the bill will die with the Jean Chrétien era.

Add it all up and you’ve got a government showing signs of diminished will power, delusions,
memory loss and paranoia.

Those symptoms suggest a clear-as-grass answer to the question about the influences
behind this strange legislation: What are those guys smoking?

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