Pot Crusader Says No To Marijuana Tickets

Aug 28, 2013

Pro­posal from police sig­nals shift toward cannabis reform, says SFU pro­fes­sor A rec­om­men­da­tion to let police treat sim­ple mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion as a tick­et­ing offence is being opposed by the head of a provin­cial cam­paign to decrim­i­nal­ize pot. Dana Larsen, whose group Sen­si­ble BC is set to kick off a peti­tion cam­paign next month to force a ref­er­en­dum on mar­i­juana pol­icy, says the new res­o­lu­tion from the Cana­dian Asso­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Police is counter-productive. The chiefs’ asso­ci­a­tion argues the option of writ­ing tick­ets to pun­ish peo­ple caught with less than 30 grams of mar­i­juana would be less costly and time-intensive than send­ing crim­i­nal charges through the courts. “It’s a bad idea,” Larsen said.  “It’s actu­ally going to result in more cannabis users being per­se­cuted.” He said police in B.C.  issue warn­ings or write reports on 18,000 peo­ple a year for use of mar­i­juana with­out lay­ing charges. “They would all get tick­ets under that new sys­tem,” Larsen pre­dicted. He said the pro­posal could con­fuse B.C.  vot­ers as can­vassers pre­pare to ask them to sign a peti­tion that would press for a ref­er­en­dum on a pro­posed law block­ing use of B.C.  police resources for enforc­ing sim­ple pos­ses­sion. “Our solu­tion does not involve fines or alter­na­tive penal­ties, it involves leav­ing peo­ple alone.” If Ottawa embraced broader leg­isla­tive reform, he added, it should sim­ply legal­ize pot. “I’d rather see rev­enue gen­er­ated through legal­iza­tion, reg­u­la­tion and tax­a­tion rather than fin­ing the peo­ple who hap­pen to be unlucky enough to get caught by police,” he said. Larsen noted ticket-empowered police would still have the abil­ity to charge some pot users, rais­ing ques­tions about poten­tial selec­tive enforce­ment. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment, which would have to change fed­eral leg­is­la­tion to enable mar­i­juana tick­et­ing, indi­cated it has no plans to legal­ize or decrim­i­nal­ize pot pos­ses­sion. Van­cou­ver Police Chief Const.  Jim Chu, pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian Asso­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Police, said the orga­ni­za­tion does not sup­port cannabis decrim­i­nal­iza­tion or legal­iza­tion. Chu said police now must either turn a blind eye or lay charges when they encounter pot use, and tick­et­ing would offer a new, more effec­tive enforce­ment option. The chiefs also say pot users who are tick­eted for sim­ple pos­ses­sion would avoid a crim­i­nal record that can block them from inter­na­tional travel, get­ting a job or gain­ing cit­i­zen­ship. SFU crim­i­nol­ogy pro­fes­sor Rob Gor­don called the res­o­lu­tion a sig­nif­i­cant shift that indi­cates police across the coun­try – not just in B.C.  – are ready for reform. “It’s the thin edge of the wedge, it’s the begin­ning of a move away from the crim­i­nal enforce­ment approach,” Gor­don said. He said Sen­si­ble BC cam­paign­ers are push­ing for change too fast and said tick­et­ing would be part of a more grad­ual move to alter pub­lic think­ing and gov­ern­ment pol­icy. “When mar­i­juana pol­icy is nor­mal­ized, I think we’ll look back at this period and say this is when the process began for the shift from crim­i­nal­iza­tion towards reg­u­la­tion and tax­a­tion,” Gor­don said. “If you go slowly, you can help peo­ple shift their think­ing from their cur­rent belief that mar­i­juana use is some sort of demonic activ­ity to rec­og­niz­ing it as just another recre­ational drug that does min­i­mal harm and the sky will not fall.” He said he wouldn’t be sur­prised if B.C.  liquor stores sell pot within five years. Although Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper has been firmly against mar­i­juana reform, Lib­eral leader Justin Trudeau’s call for change this sum­mer in B.C.  re-ignited the issue. Gor­don said Harper won’t be able to ignore the chiefs’ res­o­lu­tion, although he might send it to a com­mit­tee for a lengthy period of study. He said there are signs even Harper is posi­tion­ing his gov­ern­ment for a pivot on the issue, not­ing the recent cab­i­net shuf­fle saw the depar­ture of sev­eral law-and-order hard­lin­ers, includ­ing for­mer Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Vic Toews. A B.C.  jus­tice min­istry spokesper­son said police in B.C.  must enforce the fed­eral Con­trolled Drugs and Sub­stances Act as it now stands and any changes to the leg­is­la­tion would be up to Ottawa. Peti­tion cam­paign­ers have 1,000 can­vassers Mean­while, Sen­si­ble BC’s Dana Larsen said 1,000 can­vassers are reg­is­tered so far to col­lect sig­na­tures start­ing Sept.  9. He said he hopes to have at least 2,000 in place by that date and to gain more – the group has a tar­get of 5,000 – as the mar­i­juana decrim­i­nal­iza­tion cam­paign gath­ers steam. They’ll have 90 days to col­lect sig­na­tures from 10 per cent of reg­is­tered provin­cial vot­ers in each of B.C.’s 85 elec­toral dis­tricts. Larsen said the Fight HST cam­paign had 3,000 can­vassers in place at the out­set and got another 2,000 to 3,000 in the ensu­ing weeks. “I’m cau­tiously opti­mistic,” he said. No groups oppos­ing the ini­tia­tive reg­is­tered with Elec­tions BC by an Aug.  12 dead­line. Had a group done so it would have had a spend­ing limit of approx­i­mately $1 mil­lion to counter Sen­si­ble BC.  Groups and indi­vid­u­als can still spon­sor adver­tis­ing for and against the peti­tion, but will be sub­ject to a $5,000 limit. Source: Sur­rey Leader (CN BC) Copy­right: 2013 Sur­rey Leader Con­tact: newsroom@​surreyleader.​com Web­site: http://​www​.sur​reyleader​.com/ Details: http://​www​.map​inc​.org/​m​e​d​i​a​/​1​236 Author: Jeff Nagel

21a6fac834dana35.jpg 150x87 Pot Crusader Says No To Marijuana Tickets

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Pot Cru­sader Says No To Mar­i­juana Tickets

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