It’s High Time For Canada To Talk Pot

May 7, 2014

Mar­i­juana exists in a funny limbo in this coun­try. Despite a grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple who feel it should be decrim­i­nal­ized, or out­right legal – and reg­u­lated – it remains a con­trolled sub­stance. And, as such, we have a multibillion-dollar indus­try in Canada attempt­ing to oper­ate under the radar of the law. Weed is grown covertly on farms, in houses, con­dos or indus­trial bays, but is used widely across the coun­try. Often, the grow sites are booby trapped, elec­tric­ity is stolen, and the prop­erty is con­t­a­m­i­nated, both with chem­i­cals used in grow­ing and mold dam­age. A fire at a Cal­gary grow op even lev­elled a num­ber of homes in 2009.  Police say there is also the risk of break-ins and home inva­sions asso­ci­ated with these things. Despite all of these appar­ent dan­gers Alber­tans just don’t care, or aren’t aware. That’s one of the key find­ings in a new provin­cial report pre­pared by Cal­gary MLA Rick Fraser, the asso­ciate min­is­ter of pub­lic safety. “The preva­lent view of mar­i­juana use is that it is either used as a recre­ational drug or for med­ical pur­poses,” he says in the report. “There is a mis­per­cep­tion that grow­ing mar­i­juana is a vic­tim­less crime, and this per­cep­tion detracts from com­mu­nity involve­ment in report­ing sus­pected MGOs.  Many Alber­tans do not report mar­i­juana grow ops when they know or sus­pect a res­i­dence in their com­mu­nity has been con­verted into one.  The crime is likely not viewed as a dan­ger to the com­mu­nity.” It’s not really until peo­ple find them­selves liv­ing next to one that they per­ceive this as a prob­lem. And so, because of the dam­age done to homes and the poten­tial risk to pub­lic safety, the final rec­om­men­da­tions report for Grow Op Free Alberta lists a host of solu­tions to exist­ing prob­lems, includ­ing requir­ing real estate agents to dis­close a home was used to grow pot, guide­lines for proper and safe reme­di­a­tion and bump­ing up tools to iden­tify grow ops. The one solu­tion miss­ing? Legal­iza­tion and reg­u­la­tion. I get it – all the province can really do in its power is mit­i­gate the dam­age, try to hold peo­ple account­able when prop­er­ties are made unfit for habi­ta­tion, and ensure that reme­di­a­tion is done prop­erly. But, as pub­lic atti­tude shifts towards accep­tance of mar­i­juana, and a desire that gov­ern­ments leave adults alone to smoke what they please, the province could also take the lead in push­ing the feds to make changes to crim­i­nal law in Canada. So long as the sta­tus quo exists, res­i­den­tial grows will remain a big prob­lem, with thou­sands esti­mated to be oper­at­ing in Alberta. The rec­om­men­da­tions in the report give sig­nif­i­cant focus toward edu­ca­tion, but I think despite the empha­sis placed on inform­ing the pub­lic, I don’t think we’ll start to see an increase in police reports. Even if more peo­ple start report­ing grow ops, that won’t nec­es­sar­ily mean there will be a reduc­tion in peo­ple look­ing to grow mar­i­juana. So long as the trend toward sup­port­ing decrim­i­nal­iza­tion and legal­iza­tion con­tin­ues, the pub­lic will believe that the key is a change in fed­eral drug laws, not provin­cial pub­lic safety endeav­ours, no mat­ter how wise they may be. When look­ing at peo­ple opt­ing not to report grow ops, the rea­sons behind their com­pla­cency are key. And, with as many as two thirds of Cana­di­ans in sup­port of decrim­i­nal­iza­tion or legal­iza­tion, we shouldn’t be sur­prised peo­ple aren’t report­ing grows, and per­haps it should be taken as fur­ther sign we’re ready for greater debate on the issue. As we’re approach­ing a fed­eral elec­tion in 2015, here’s hop­ing we get one. Source: Cal­gary Sun, The Copy­right: 2014 The Cal­gary Sun Con­tact: http://​www​.cal​gar​y​sun​.com/​l​e​t​t​e​r​-​t​o​-​e​d​i​tor Web­site: http://​www​.cal​gar​y​sun​.com/ Details: http://​www​.map​inc​.org/​m​e​d​i​a​/67 Author: Dave Breakenridge

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It’s High Time For Canada To Talk Pot

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