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Pot smoking 101

By Hempology | November 20, 2003

From the Martlet, November 20, 2003

By Michelle Martin

Although smoking marijuana is illegal, Campus Security and the Saanich Police turn a
blind eye when the Hempology 101 Club meets at 4:20 p.m. every Wednesday and clouds
of smoke rise over Petch Fountain.

“It’s not on our radar. We have much bigger problems to deal with: sexual assaults,
violence and rapes,” said Hunter McDonald, Director of Campus Security. “If you look
at the problems we have, they don’t involve kids smoking dope at the fountain.”

Chris Horsley, media relations officer for the Saanich Police, said, “The police
department is still very concerned with drug use on campus.” Nevertheless, marijuana
use on and off campus is something Horsley believes has not had a lot of police
attention in the last few years. “The police have to look at the bigger issues of
public safety and public harm,” said Horsley.

“Just because the police aren’t showing up every week doesn’t mean we are agreeing
to what is happening,” Horsley added.

Campus Security and the Saanich Police did, however, collaborate in November 2000
to arrest the founder of Hempology 101, Ted Smith, for trafficking marijuana at the
weekly 4:20 circle. Horesley said that at the time marijuana was a more prominent
issue than it is now.

Smith’s arrest was the last arrest involving the 4:20 club on campus.

But according to Horsley, 4:20 club participants are not exempt from marijuana-related
charges. “They thought they were acting with immunity back then,” he said about Smith’s
arrest. “[But] we’ve dealt with this group before, and there’s nothing that says we
won’t deal with it again.”

Campus Security and the Saanich Police do not treat all marijuana-related crimes
equally. “If we see it, we’ll confiscate it and flush it. If we see someone selling
it we might take a stronger approach and call the police,” said McDonald. “[Also]
if someone is stoned and creates a disturbance, intimidates, harasses, or bullies,
then it’s a different ball game.” He also said that Campus Security has never busted
anyone for straight possession.

Horsley said that the police still act on the premise that possession of marijuna
is illegal and an offense fit for the courts. He siad that changing laws in Canada
have confused some about the legal consequences of possession: possession is now
considered a summary conviction offensive (what is called a misdemeanor in the U.S.),
which means those convicted will not have a criminal record, but those charged will
still go to court.

“The police have the same power to arrest as they did before. It’s just that the
consequences have changed for the people charges, but it hasn’t changed the method
of operation,” Horsley said.

Even though police seem to be just as willing to charge people with marijuana-related
offenses as before the legislation changes were proposed, no charges have been laid on
campud since Smith’s arrest. Horsley says that they rely on members of the public
to direct police resources and that currently the Street Crime and Drug Unit are
dedicated to combating street-level drug dealing.

McDonald said that marijuana-related offenses have not been discussed between Campus
Security and Saanich Police since the arrest of Smith. “We made our point by charging
him.” said McDonald. Now McDonald says that Campus Security is waiting until the
judicial system decides on Smith’s case before looking at future marijuana enforcement

Long-time Hempology 101 member Tyler MacDonald thinks that the lack of enforcement
of the 4:20 club since Smith’s arrest is because officials don’t want another
reason for “UVic students to hate them.”

But according to Hunter McDonald, popularity is not a factor. “Honesty and justice
are more important than the reputation of the university,” he said. “We’ve had no
pressure from the university for us not to do anything, [but] if I did bust them,
it would only bring them more popularity.”

Ted Smith thinks discreet monitoring may be taking place. He said, “I suspect that
there have [recently] been undercover cops coming to watch occasionally because it
was undercover surveillance that arrested me.”

Horsley said that there is a “strong likelihood” that Smith is correct. In
contrast, McDonald says, “[Campus Security is] not doing surveilance.

We already know they’re there.”

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