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High Noon in Montreal

By Hempology | May 4, 2006


U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration prepares “drug war” strategies at Montreal conference

On May 8, 2006, undercover narcs and their handlers from around the globe will meet behind closed doors at Montreal’s Hilton Bonaventure to share intelligence and devise strategies for the “war on drugs.” According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration ( DEA ), which is footing the bill, the conference will be conducted in English, Spanish and Russian – French is conspicuously absent. The RCMP, pseudo co-sponsors, suggest visiting the DEA’s website ( ) for additional rhetoric and negligible information.

The same day and down the street, with open arms, open doors and simultaneous French/English translation, a counter-symposium called “Can We Talk?” gets underway at the Marriott hotel. Sponsored by a coalition of anti-prohibitionists, including Students for a Sensible Drug Policy and the University of Ottawa’s criminology department, the symposium offers a who’s who of drug scholars, activists and former cops, all on a quixotic quest to “open a dialogue with the DEA” and offer alternatives to prohibition. The general public is cordially invited, but DEA delegates are especially welcome on the off chance they might learn something.

“Current drug policies diminish everyone,” says retired B.C. Provincial Court judge and symposium speaker Jerry Paradis, a member of LEAP ( Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ). The 1,000-plus drug cases that he’s heard in his 28 years on the bench back him up.

“It diminishes judges by requiring them to shut their minds off from the irrationality of what they are required to do. It diminishes lawyers on both sides: the prosecutors, by forcing them to pursue people and issues that they know full well belong in the field of health care, and defence counsel, by forcing them to play silly Charter of Rights games instead of dealing with real issues. And it diminishes the police by forcing them to see drug users as prey, not worthy of serious second thought.”

Lionel Prevost’s opposition to the current drug laws stems from his 25 years with the Surete du Quebec. Today he teaches criminology at the Universite de Montreal and is an ardent – and eloquent – anti-prohibitionist.

“Current laws do not fulfill their dissuasive function,” he said. “Prohibition prevents the state from exerting its responsibilities, particularly with regard to the quality of drugs being sold on the street. Moreover, [prohibition] has created a climate of violence and criminality without precedent.”

The DEA conference – “IDEC XXIV” in narc-speak – is an annual event. Cities that have hosted previous IDECs include: Panama City during Manuel Noriega’s heyday; Cartegena, Colombia, when the Medellin cartel was going full-bore; and the world crime capital of Washington, D.C.

“This is the first time the DEA’s drug enforcement conference has come to Montreal,” said symposium co-ordinator Marc-Boris St-Maurice of NORML Canada.

“It’s also the first time retired judges and police officers have followed them to speak out against the insane drug wars,” he adds with an illegal smile.

Several symposium speakers will take their anti-prohibition message to the faculty and students of the University of Ottawa the following day, May 9, while for DEA delegates it will be back to business as usual.

Counter Symposium at Chateau Champlain Ballroom ( 1050 De la Gauchetiere ), May 8, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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