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Pot protest of one

By admin | June 10, 2010

By Auren Ruvinsky – Parksville Qualicum Beach News
Published: June 07, 2010 4:00 PM

Bob Estes was the lone anti-Bill S-10 protester in downtown Parksville Friday afternoon.

A national day of protest against Bill S-10 was recognized in Parksville and Coombs on Friday, if only by small numbers.

The federal Bill S-10 would impose minimum jail sentences for marijuana producers. The bill was introduced by the Conservative government twice before under different names (C-26 and C-15) to combat “serious drug crimes.”

The Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act “would help disrupt criminal enterprises by targeting drug suppliers,” by setting stricter mandatory penalties for Schedule I drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as Schedule II drugs like marijuana.

“It takes away the judges’ power to consider whether it was medical marijuana,” said Parksville’s lone protester Bob Estes, who runs a compassion club in Errington for medical users.

Estes walked around the foot of the Alberni Highway in Parksville for a couple hours Friday afternoon with a sign, handing out pamphlets, while protests were set for 24 communities across the country, including seven on the Island.

Marijuana producers growing six or more plants would face minimum jail sentences of anywhere from six months to 14 years, depending on “aggravating factors,” such as using a third party’s property, or if the production is seen to be a potential security or health hazard to children.

Organized by the International Hempology 101 Society, the point of the protest was that select surveys show most Canadians, including the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, want marijuana to be legalized, or at least de-criminalized.

Estes said the bill would just put a lot more people in prison, at a cost of $100,000 per year, per person, and double prices which would in fact help organized crime.

He said the government should be moving to legalize and tax marijuana to create jobs, rather than putting people in prison.

The day before the national protest, police raided four medical marijuana compassion clubs in Quebec.

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