Marijuana War is Reefer Madness, Critics Say! 

Marijuana War is Reefer Madness, Critics Say! 
Posted by FoM on March 14, 1999 at 21:14:56 PT

 REGINA For months, RCMP officers had a secret window into Leland Dosch's life. They taped his family's phone calls, studied his daily routine -- even broke into his home and planted listening devices. 
Then, in a carefully planned manoeuvre, they raided his rural Saskatchewan farmhouse and arrested him as a suspected drug trafficker. It was hailed as the successful climax to a long, painstaking investigation -- another victory for the good guys in the war on drugs. But after the intense surveillance, thousands of taped conversations and countless hours on the job, what did police have to show for their Herculean efforts? Thirty immature marijuana plants and less than a kilogram of pot. The Dosch case and others like it have some experts questioning the wisdom of devoting so much time and money to battle a drug that many people regard as harmless and millions of Canadians use. And with the latest statistics showing marijuana accounting for 72 per cent of all drug offences, some suggest it's time to back off. "There's nothing more costly than a drug case for Canadian criminal justice," said Alan Young, a professor at Osgoode Hall law school in Toronto. "When you get to drugs, you find that the cost of enforcing these laws is extraordinary and, in my opinion, it saps the criminal justice system of necessary resources to deal with serious predatory crime." Young estimates that authorities across the country spend $1 billion a year to battle the drug trade -- 70 per cent of that on marijuana. "People have to start wondering whether this is money well spent," he said. It's not just the cost that bothers Young, it's the consequences for civil liberty. "There are enormous invasions of privacy in the name of intelligence gathering," Young said. "You often come up with diddly-squat and what you have effectively done is invade the privacy of dozens of people at dozens of locations in order to find out that Joe had 200 plants growing in his basement." Mark Brayford, the lawyer who represented Dosch, agrees that the intrusion of electronic surveillance is troubling. "The vast majority of people whose voices are on wiretaps don't know it," he said from his office in Saskatoon. Brayford pointed to the fact that 2,000 hours of tape involving dozens of innocent people yielded just 20 bits of incriminating evidence against Dosch. "I'd far sooner have somebody sift through my sock drawer and look at my belongings, if I haven't done anything wrong, than have police officers listen to my most private conversations," Brayford said. "I think it's for the public to decide whether we have misplaced priorities in where we're using both our electronic surveillance and our limited number of jail cells." Brayford also questioned the severity of sentences for marijuana offences. He noted that in Saskatchewan, trafficking marijuana can net a longer sentence than molesting a child. For Dosch, who was convicted last month, it brought a 16-month jail term. That means the 40-year-old can't help support his four children or maintain his struggling farm operation. Umberto Iorfida, president of NORML Canada (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), said it's time to end the war against pot. "We believe that the use of marijuana should not be a matter of criminal law," he said. "I certainly abhor any amount of (tax) money that they spend on this kind of effort." The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is against legalization but wants Ottawa to look at decriminalization in some instances. Barry King, police chief in Brockville, Ont., said police are merely doing their job enforcing the law and it's up to Ottawa to give them direction on easing up on minor cases. "We're looking for discretion as much as anybody else," he said. One of the most common arguments for continuing the crackdown on marijuana is that it is a "gateway" drug that leads users to try harder drugs. But Young said that's nonsense. "We have tried to construct justification for the marijuana prohibition for 70 years and we still cannot construct one that is coherent and meaningful," he said. "The gateway theory has been discredited in scientific literature many, many years ago." Statistics show that only one in nine marijuana users goes on to try cocaine, he said, and just one in 20 experiments with heroin. "Any statistician will tell you it's not a gateway, it's a gate closure."
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Comment #3 posted by Lisa Spliff on January 05, 2001 at 09:31:11 PT:
smoke weed everyday!!!
Please answer me this Who's to say what I can and can't do 2 my own body other than me?It's nobodies business that I like to get fried so lay off!!!I'm not hurting anyone by blazing shit so what's the problem?
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Comment #2 posted by lisa on January 05, 2001 at 09:26:39 PT:
weed is harmless!!!!
Other than the fact that it makes u forget a lot of the time weed is perfectly harmless! Even if it is messing me up in the long run. I don't care i'm the only one that's being harmed so if i want to smoke up then why should I be denied this pleasure?
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Comment #1 posted by anonymous on March 16, 1999 at 14:38:18 PT
comment only
I don't know if prohibition for marijuana will ever end because it seems to me that most people (adults) I know that use it tend to be non agressive passive citizens that are very unlikely to come out because of the fear of persecution. Many grow in their own home so they don't have to deal with the black market. So you have silent mass of users (considered criminals by law) that choose to remain unknown. On the other hand prohibitionists continue to have control of the media to crush the few users that get caught. Now medical users are different since they normally have less to loose thru prosecution and have the support of some of the medical profession to help.So its sad but sick and dying might have a chance to change the mood out there. The average working professional that smokes will never admit to using marijuana cause he has too much to loose. Its a really twisted issue of freedom of speech and so prohibitionist can go on drinking their alcool and smoking tabacco while persecuting pot smokers who will not retalliate out of fear.  
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