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LOCAL, B.C., and CANADA

DRUGS

Comment Form

This includes all drugs and not limited to pharmaceutical drugs, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, cigarettes, coffee, etc.

Blue Divider Line

Online Petition to Legalize Marijuana in Canada

against Stephen Harper

Legalize Marijuana in Canada Today Petition | GoPetition

Blue Divider Line

Regulating compassion: an overview of Canada's federal medical cannabis policy and practice
Lucas, Philippe G
Harm Reduction Journal 2008;5:5.

Background
In response to a number of court challenges brought forth by Canadian patients who demonstrated that they benefited from the use of medicinal cannabis but remained vulnerable to arrest and persecution as a result of its status as a controlled substance, in 1999 Canada became the second nation in the world to initiate a centralized medicinal cannabis program. Over its six years of existence, this controversial program has been found unconstitutional by a number of courts, and has faced criticism from the medical establishment, law enforcement, as well as the patient/participants themselves.

Methods
This critical policy analysis is an evidence-based review of court decisions, government records, relevant studies and Access to Information Act data related to the three main facets of Health Canada's medicinal cannabis policy – the Marihuana Medical Access Division (MMAD); the Canadians Institute of Health Research Medical Marijuana Research Program; and the federal cannabis production and distribution program. This analysis also examines Canada's network of unregulated community-based dispensaries.

Results
There is a growing body of evidence that Health Canada's program is not meeting the needs of the nation's medical cannabis patient community and that the policies of the Marihuana Medical Access Division may be significantly limiting the potential individual and public health benefits achievable though the therapeutic use of cannabis. Canada's community-based dispensaries supply medical cannabis to a far greater number of patients than the MMAD, but their work is currently unregulated by any level of government, leaving these organizations and their clients vulnerable to arrest and prosecution.

Conclusion
Any future success will depend on the government's ability to better assess and address the needs and legitimate concerns of end-users of this program, to promote and fund an expanded clinical research agenda, and to work in cooperation with community-based medical cannabis dispensaries in order to address the ongoing issue of safe and timely access to this herbal medicine.

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon May 26, 2014 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

Zoning Bylaw Amendment
The Regional Board has adopted amendments to the Zoning Bylaw No. 871. Health Canada regulated medical marijuana production facilities in the electoral areas will be restricted to agricultural or larger rural zoned lands. These facilities will be treated similar to intensive agricultural operations available in the RU1, RU2 and A1 zones with a minimum parcel size of eight hectares, providing sufficient setbacks to reduce potential negative impacts with other neighbouring properties.

Joe Rich Rural Land Use Bylaw Amendment
The Regional Board has adopted amendments to the Joe Rich Rural Land Use Bylaw. These changes restrict Health Canada regulated medical marijuana production facilities in the Rural Land Use bylaw area to agricultural or larger rural designated lands with a minimum parcel size of eight hectares. The intent is to provide sufficient setbacks to reduce potential negative impacts from other neighbouring properties.

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio May 26, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (22.2 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files May 26, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 7.3 Zoning Amendment Bylaw No 871 222 (medical marihuana) - .wma (381 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files May 26, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 7.4 Joe Rich Rural Land Use Amendment Bylaw No 1195 09 (medical marihuana) - .wma (238 KB)

.pdf icon May 26, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

RDCO Minutes of the meeting are not usually published to RDCO's website until after being adopted at the following meeting which would be June 12, 2014.  If the minutes are not published here yet, you can check RDCO's website to see if the minutes are published there yet.

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio May 26, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (22.2 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files May 26, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 7.3 Zoning Amendment Bylaw No 871 222 (medical marihuana) - .wma (381 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files May 26, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 7.4 Joe Rich Rural Land Use Amendment Bylaw No 1195 09 (medical marihuana) - .wma (238 KB)

Blue Divider Line

Medical marijuana bylaw moves ahead
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore | Story: 110758 - Mar 12, 2014

Saying they are making the best of 'not the best situation,' West Kelowna Councillor Duane Ophus reluctantly moved adoption of third reading of the district's Medical Marijuana bylaw.

"I think we have to go forward whether we completely like it or not and I don't completely like it," says Ophus.

Mayor Doug Findlater agreed.

"I am certainly not happy and I said that last time when we discussed this about how this is being rolled out. Folks back in Ottawa may have thought how it might work in Ottawa but they certainly didn't think it through about how it would work in BC," says Findlater.

"We have all kinds of other complexities and players, however, we have a deadline approaching where we have to manage this issue and this is, as Councillor Ophus said, the best of not an absolutely wonderful situation."

The bylaw allows for Medical Marijuana production facilities to be located in light industrial (I1) zones within the municipality.

While it also states Medical Marijuana facilities cannot be located in multi-tenant buildings unless all tenants are growers.

Two site specific text amendments are also included within the proposed bylaw amendment to allow for commercial medical marijuana production within multi-tenanted buildings for two properties.
1352 Industrial Road and 2322 Dominion Road.

These two properties are currently in stream applications with Health Canada and are located within multi-tenated buildings.

Prior to third reading council waded through a 30 minute public hearing.

Trent Kitsch, founder of SAAX Apparel, is behind the two in stream applications.

Kitsch told council the location at 2322 Dominion Road has been fully producing medical marijuana for the almost two years.

"It's been fully under the watchful eye of inspections. We've worked with Westside Fire Rescue, we've worked with West Kelowna bylaws," Kitsch told council.

"Health Canada is going to have stringent rules with regards to their inspections and their regulations as well as I'm sure the District of West Kelowna will be applying their rules and regulations."

He says it will be professionally run with round the clock surveillance.

"It's a significant investment, it's a pharmaceutical business, it's going to be quality assured."

Kitsch says the second location on Industrial Road is currently vacant and up for sale.

He says if the application is approved through Health Canada he would purchase the building which will create jobs and tax revenue for the municipality.

"I believe this is misconstrued as an illegal or shady business when it's a Health Canada endorsed, fully legal business that I recognized as an entrepreneur is just an economic opportunity."

Because the two properties are near provincial roadways the bylaw must first go to the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for approval before it can receive fourth and final reading.

The new Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations come into effect nationally April 1.

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon February 24, 2014 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

Zoning Bylaw Amendments Proposed

The Regional Board has given first reading to proposed amendments to the Zoning Bylaw No. 871. One of the suggested amendments deals with housing for Temporary Migrant Farm Workers and provides more flexible options that are consistent with the Agricultural Land Commission legislation and the Province’s template for migrant farm worker housing. The key changes include: setback provisions, maximum allowable floor area and confirmation from farm operators that buildings are for seasonal farm worker housing. A Public Hearing will be scheduled and advertised for the proposed amendments to the Zoning Bylaw. An amendment regarding medical marijuana production facilities was deferred until further information is available from Health Canada and other local governments.

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 24, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (38.3 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 6.2 Sterile Insect Release Board Highlights - .wma (1.77 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments (marijuana) - .wma (18.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments for Migrant Farm Workers - .wma (1.67 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.4 Joe Rich Rural Land Use Amendment Bylaw No 1195 09 Text Amendments (marijuana) - .wma (639 KB)

.pdf icon February 24, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Item 6.2 Sterile Insect Release Board Highlights

.pdf icon Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments (marijuana)

.pdf icon Item 10.4 Joe Rich Rural Land Use Amendment Bylaw No 1195 09 Text Amendments (marijuana)

*Note* This is only a snippet, please click links above for full content

SIR Board Chair and Vice-Chair Elected:
The SIR Board is pleased to announce that Director Duane Ophus, RDCO (West Kelowna) and Director Allan Patton, RDOS (Electoral Area "c" Rural Oliver) were elected on February 7,2014 as SIR Board Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively. All regional district appointments remain the same as 2013.

SIR Board Financial Plan for 2014:
The SIR Board gave three readings and adopted Bylaw No. 29, SIR 2014-2018 Five Year Financial Plan which outlines the Board's $3.07 million annual budget. The adoption of this budget confirms that there is no increase in tax requisition to the Regional Districts for 2014 and the parcel tax rate remains at $139.26 per acre of planted codling moth host trees. There has been no increase in tax requisition since 2010.

====================

Purpose:
This is a Community Services Department initiated text and mapping amendment to Zoning Bylaw No. 871, 2000. The proposed amendments are listed in attached Bylaw No. 871-215 and attached Schedules 'A', 'B' and 'C'.

Executive Summary:
Based on feedback received to date, it is proposed that medical marihuana production facilities be restricted to agricultural and/or larger rural zoned lands. The amendments related to Temporary Agricultural Worker Dwellings/Accommodations are in keeping with provincial guidelines and initiatives that support agricultural operations in the region. The additional housekeeping items respond to highlighted issues identified through day-to-day workings with the Zoning Bylaw.

RECOMMENDATION:
THAT Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 871-215, application Z12/05 be given first reading;
AND FURTHER THAT the application be scheduled for a Public Hearing.

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To date, the RDCO has received five letters from potential applicants: one is zoned A1 and within the ALR, two are zoned RU2, others are zoned in the Joe Rich Rural Land Use Bylaw LH and RA and are located within the ALR.

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 24, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (38.3 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 6.2 Sterile Insect Release Board Highlights - .wma (1.77 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments (marijuana) - .wma (18.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments for Migrant Farm Workers - .wma (1.67 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.4 Joe Rich Rural Land Use Amendment Bylaw No 1195 09 Text Amendments (marijuana) - .wma (639 KB)

.pdf icon February 24, 2014 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

RDCO Board minutes are not usually published to RDCO's website until after being adopted at the following board meeting which may be March 24, 2014.  If the minutes are not posted here yet, you can always check RDCO's website.

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 24, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (38.3 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 6.2 Sterile Insect Release Board Highlights - .wma (1.77 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments (marijuana) - .wma (18.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.3 Zoning Bylaw No 871 Text And Mapping Amendments for Migrant Farm Workers - .wma (1.67 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 24, 2014 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 10.4 Joe Rich Rural Land Use Amendment Bylaw No 1195 09 Text Amendments (marijuana) - .wma (639 KB)

Blue Divider Line

Industrial zones for medical marijuana
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 109964 - Feb 28, 2014

File: A worker takes care of plants at Kelowna's largest legal grow operation.

West Kelowna Council has given first and second reading to a Zoning Amendment Bylaw that would allow commercial medical marijuana production in the District’s Light Industrial Zone, with minimum siting distances from P zones and zones that permit residential dwellings as principle use.

The Bylaw indicates that medical marijuana production would not be allowed within multi-tenanted buildings.

However, two site specific text amendments were added to permit its production in two multi-tenanted buildings in West Kelowna’s industrial zone as both properties are in stream applications with Health Canada. Council directed that the draft bylaw be taken to public hearing on Tuesday, March 11, at 1:30 p.m.

Commercial medical marijuana production must be licensed by Health Canada under the Federal Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations.

Council further directed that staff write a letter to the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and BC Assessment to object to the farm classification of commercial medical marihuana operations.

In other council news:

SILGA Resolutions

Council approved three resolutions to be forwarded for consideration at the Southern Interior Local Government Association’s 2014 convention April 29 to May 2 in Penticton. The resolutions to be forwarded are:
•“Provincial-Local Government Communication” which requests that the Provincial Government review its communication policy and procedures with a view to fostering a timelier and more cooperative partnership with local governments.
•“Expanded Public Notification Opportunities” which requests that the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development amend the Community Charter to expand the methods in which a local government can provide public notification to meet legislative requirements.
•“Medical Marijuana Production on ALR Land” which requests that the Union of BC Municipalities lobby the provincial government to amend the Agricultural Land Commission Act definition of "farm use" to exclude medical marijuana production as a farm use.


These resolutions will be submitted for consideration by SILGA’s membership. If approved, the resolutions will be taken to the UBCM convention, September 22 to 26 for member consideration.

Tallus Ridge Development

Council gave second readings to amendment bylaws to the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw for the majority of the remaining lands in the Tallus Ridge neighbourhood to a mix of park and open space, compact housing, single family residential, low density multiple family and medium density multiple family. Council directed that the bylaws be scheduled for public hearing pending receipt of an updated servicing report.

Glenrosa Road Development

Council gave third reading to an Official Community Plan amendment and an amendment to the District’s former Zoning Bylaw 0154 (the District’s new Zoning Bylaw comes into effect on March 13, 2014) for a development fronting Glenrosa Road to the East, Yorkton Road, Morningside Drive and Astoria Drive to the North. The development includes single family, compact housing, low density multiple housing as well as neighbourhood commercial and park and open space. The bylaws went to public hearing December 10, 2013. Council further agreed that the owner of the property provide excess services in the form of off-site water service upgrades at the time of subdivision. Staff will schedule the amendments for adoption pending dedication of park areas and registration of restrictive covenants which restrict future development pending certain items including:
•Construction of intersection improvements for Glenrosa Road and Webber Road
•Completion of water service upgrades
•Protection of hillside areas

Council also accepted a proposal that the applicant provide neighbourhood park improvements at the time of future development.

Rose Valley Development

Council adopted Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments for Phase 11 of the Rose Valley neighbourhood involving a nine hectare property located along the western boundary of the Rose Valley neighbourhood. The amendment changes the land use designation from Single Family Residential to Low Density Multiple Family and the subject area is rezoned from Rural 2 (RU2) to Low Density Multiple Family (R3A). This allows the construction of a 69-unit multiple family residential development which will incorporate a range of structures from duplexes to five-plexes. It is anticipated that 18 buildings will be constructed.

Boucherie Road Winery

Council authorized the issuance of a Development Variance Permit (DVP) to allow an increase to the maximum height of the principle building and retaining wall associated with a proposed winery on property at the Intersection of Hudson and Boucherie Roads. Council did not approve the requested variance to increase the height of an accessory building on the site. The 4.78 hectare property is zoned A1 and is in the Agricultural Land Reserve. The proposed development will include a winery building, food and beverage lounge and an accessory building. Council further directed that the DVP be issued upon the submission of a professional landscape plan and an associated security to ensure the installation of landscaping screening at the base of the proposed retaining wall.

Wildhorse Park Conceptual Plan

Council was provided information on potentially fast-tracking the development of Wildhorse Park in the Smith Creek neighbourhood. The development of the park is currently recognized in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan as a medium to long term priority (10 to 20 years). The development of a Wildhorse Park Conceptual Plan is estimated to cost approximately $20,000 to complete and is not included in the 2014 Capital Budget. Council directed staff to continue public consultation with the Smith Creek neighbourhood to determine the neighbourhood park development needs and the level of support and bring back to Council the options for funding this consultation and park development.

Heritage Registry

Council adopted the District of West Kelowna’s first Community Heritage Register and two statements of significance have been prepared for the inclusion in the registry – the CNR Wharf site and the Gellatly Landing Park location in respect of the importance of transportation on Okanagan Lake.

Westbank Cemetery Services

Council adopted the Westbank Cemetery Bylaw, part of its Westbank Cemetery Strategy. The Bylaw now allows the sale of newly-installed columbarium niches and mausoleum crypts. A landscaping plan is also part of the strategy to improve the cemetery to a park-like setting.

Transportation Master Plan

Council adopted the District’s first Transportation Master Plan which builds upon the goals and objectives of the District's Official Community Plan to support the social and economic health of the District. The Plan uses current and future travel patterns and public expectations to determine incremental system improvements, and integrates these with existing infrastructure maintenance and renewal needs, to present a practical and affordable long term transportation strategy.

On Feb 28, 2014 local news Mayor Doug Findlater said it was partly a money issue because the District would receive more revenue through taxation from Industrial properties vs ALR land.

Blue Divider Line

Medical marijuana users say they’ll go underground
Globalnews.ca - By Kelly Hayes - Feb 20, 2014

KELOWNA - A Kelowna man is sounding the alarm about impending dramatic changes to the medical marijuana business.

Under the new rules, people who are licensed to possess marijuana for medical purposes will no longer be able to grow their own or purchase marijuana from small scale producers.

Richard Palson says the changes will mean medical marijuana users will not be able to afford their medicine and will also drive the business underground.

The 49-year-old Kelowna man had big dreams — studying to become a construction engineer, but in 2005 his life came crashing down in a construction accident that nearly severed his spine.

“Well, it was like I had lost my life. I had lost everything. I had lost the ability to earn a living, to take care of my kids and myself. All my ambitions of becoming an engineer went down the drain. It was a big blow.”

At first, Palson was put in a wheelchair and was taking up to 30 pills a day to cope with the pain and spasms. Through extensive rehab, he slowly regained control of his legs, but the pills were killing him.

“Although I was happy to get my legs back, I was losing the rest of my body, my liver, my kidneys.”

So he weaned himself off the meds and looked to medical marijuana as a substitute.

“I did what I needed to do to get off meds and found a physician who would agree to sign for my medical cannabis exemption.”

Palson smokes 300 grams a month at a cost of less than $100. But under the new federal regulations that take effect in April, Palson says he’ll have to doll out thousands to a designated commercial grower.

“It will cost me exactly $2630 which is basically four times what disability pays me.”

Palson says he and other medical marijuana users will have no choice but to break the law in order to afford to keep smoking medical marijuana.

“I know for a fact that it’s going to go underground because for one, the price is going to go above the price of black market cannabis.”

Palson says many are going to resort to homegrown.

“Some of us are going to go illegal and grow our own medicine.”

A group of lawyers have filed an injunction in BC Supreme Court, arguing the new medical marijuana regulations are unconstitutional.

A decision is expected March 18.

Blue Divider Line

Three B.C. medical pot licensees sue Ottawa over new law
By Keith Fraser, The Province February 19, 2014

Three B.C. medical pot licensees sue Ottawa over new law

Tweed Inc. workers tend to medical marijuana plants at a new commercial operation in Smiths Falls, Ont. Medical marijuana licensees in B.C. are suing to retain the right grow their own pot for their own use.
Photograph by: MICHEL COMTE , AFP/Getty Images


Three B.C. men who have medicinal marijuana licences say the federal government has violated their rights by changing the laws allowing them to possess and grow pot.

Kevin Garber, a Langley resident, says he needs marijuana to treat his severe epilepsy and arthritis and has held a licence to grow and possess pot since 2009.

In a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court, he says changes to the laws that will require him to purchase his pot from a licensed company will have a harmful effect on him.

Garber says his licence allows him to possess 1,800 grams of cannabis and his daily dosage, approved by his doctor, is 60 grams per day.

He is also allowed to cultivate 292 cannabis plants indoors and to store 13,140 grams of cannabis, he says.

But under the new law going into effect March 31, he could be required to destroy 15,000 grams of marijuana he would otherwise have used to meet his medical needs, he says.

Garber claims that none of the licensed producers under the new regime have the genetic variants he requires and the pricing far exceeds his ability to afford sufficient quantities of the drug for his medicinal requirements.

“[The] plaintiff experiences emotional and psychological distress as a result of his awareness that on March 31, 2014 he will be forced to choose between his health and liberty and will be forced to destroy all of the cannabis he has stored as of that date,” says his lawsuit.

“The plaintiff also believes that if his licensing is revoked his quality of life and health will suffer. Indeed, his life may be at risk from severe seizures or seizure-related injuries.

The second man, Timothy Sproule of Abbotsford, says he is disabled as a result of degenerative disc disease that’s exacerbated by multiple car accidents.

His license allows him to possess 1,080 grams of pot and his daily dosage is 42 grams. He is also allowed to produce 176 cannabis plants indoors and to store 7,920 grams of cannabis, he says.

The new law could require him to destroy 9,000 grams of pot that would otherwise be used as medicine for himself, he says.

The third man, Philip Newmarch, says he is disabled and suffers from a variety of conditions including severe arthritis and spinal-cord disease.

He is allowed to possess 5,010 grams of cannabis and his daily dosage is 167 grams. He is allowed to produce 813 cannabis plants and to store 36,585 grams of the drug.

On March 31, he could be required to destroy 40,000 grams of the drug, he says.

The three men are seeking a court declaration that the new law violates their rights and a court order that they be allowed to continue to possess their licences.

A Health Canada spokesman referred questions to the federal justice department, but a phone message left there seeking comment went unanswered.

Canada’s laws have allowed qualified patients to hold medicinal marijuana licences since 2001.

The new law establishing a commercial system for production and distribution of dried marijuana to qualified patients came into effect in July 2012.

Changes removing the right of qualified patients to produce cannabis for personal medicinal consumption go into effect April 1.

They also disallow possession and provision of cannabis in any form other than dried pot and impose limits on the quantity of dried pot that can be purchased at any one time from a licensed producer, according to the lawsuit.

kfraser "at" theprovince.com

twitter.com/keithrfraser

Copyright (c) The Province

Blue Divider Line

1000 legal pot growers to be shut down
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 109690 - Feb 25, 2014

At the present time there are more than 1,000 licenced medical marijuana grow operations within the city of Kelowna.

In a letter sent to the city last year, Health Canada informed the City there are currently 841 people licenced to grow medical marijuana for personal use and another 181 active licences allowing people to grow for themselves and up to four other people.

New Health Canada rules will force them to shut down by the end of March.

To prepare for the inevitable growth of new operations, Kelowna City Council put forth a series of new zoning and bylaw regulations concerning the growing and distribution of medical marijuana.

According to Health Canada the new regulations, set to take affect April 1, will treat marijuana as much as possible like any other narcotic used for medical purposes by creating conditions for a new, commercial industry that is responsible for its production and distribution.

Those conditions, regulating health and safety and also where facilities could or could not be located, are being left to individual municipalities across the country.

At the present time medical marijuana operations can be located anywhere within a city as long as the operator has a licence for production from Health Canada.

Monday, Kelowna City Council approval a text amendment to zoning bylaw 8000 permitting medical marijuana production facilities only in I2 (General Industrial), I3 (Heavy Industrial) and I4 (Central Industrial) zones.

Other industrial zones such as I1, I5 and I6 were not included, although Councillor Andre Blanleil did question the exclusion of I1 (Business Industrial).


Environment & Land Use Manager, Todd Cashin, says staff was looking for industrial zones that provided the least amount of conflict with typical users within those zones.

"When staff was looking through the different uses I1 definitely came up...it was on the bubble," says Cashin.

"If you review the existing I1 zones that are out there today there are a lot of regular type businesses - a lot less on the true industrial use side. Some are closer to residential areas and the I1's, in some cases, had a bit more opportunities for conflict so staff left it off."

Some of the primary land uses in the I1 zone include animal clinics, care facilities, child care while I2 has automotive, warehousing and production facilities, things that look and feel like what the city feels the marijuana production facilities will look like.

A second text amendment was also approved to prohibit medical marijuana production facilities from all Agriculture 1 (A1) zones by amending the definition of agriculture.

Councillor Robert Hobson supported the direction council has taken in eliminating the possibility of of these facilities within the agricultural zone.

"This is an industrial use and not an agricultural use that requires the kinds of servicing and road access that an industrial property would require," says Hobson.

"It's (marijuana) not an outdoor crop like corn. To me it makes sense to focus on industrial areas."

Greg Wise, Kelowna's bylaws manager, says the Medical Marijuana Producer Business Licence and Regulation Bylaw mirrors those of Health Canada.

Those include:
•The applicant is obligated to ensure the location of the medical marijuana production facility meets all applicable stipulations of the City of Kelowna Zoning Bylaw 8000
•The applicant is obligated to obtain the required permits prior to commencement of any building, plumbing, natural gas, propane and electrical installations on any development site or building
•All new construction and tenant improvements must comply with the BC Building code, BC Fire Code and City of Kelowna Building Bylaw, Plumbing, Gas, Development Cost Charges, and Life Safety Bylaws

Submission of:
•A ventilation plan used to control the environment detailing how such system(s) prevents the escape of pollen, and other particles through exhausted air ensuring no odours leaving the premises can be detected by a person with a normal sense of smell at the exterior of the premises
•A plan that specifies the methods to be used to prevent the growth of harmful mould and achieve compliance with limitations on discharge into the waste water system of the City
•A security and exterior lighting plan consistent with the requirements of the Health Canada MMPR regulations, including monitored alarm system
•A plan of the placement and use of security cameras consistent with the Health Canada MMPR regulations
•A storage plan for the medical marijuana produced and/or otherwise stored on the Premises
•A plan for disposal of any medical marijuana or Infused marijuana that is not consumed by patients in a manner that protects any portion thereof being possessed or ingested by any person or animal
•A plan for packaging and delivery of medical marijuana to patients, including the loading and transport of product
•Provide a signed declaration that no pesticides or other toxic substance shall be used in medical marijuana production and that the operation will meet the Health Canada Technical Specifications for Dried Marihuana for Medical Purposes document
•A Copy of the Heath Canada Medical Marijuana Producer licence
•The names of every individual employed in the MMPR business and provide updates within 72 hrs. of any change in personnel
•Documentation that the applicant and all employees have passed an RCMP criminal records check on an annual basis
•The premises must be cleaned to the standard contained in the Nuisance Controlled Substance Bylaw 9510, as amended or replaced from time to time
•City may inspect at any time to confirm any and all conditions are being met
•Failure to meet any of the conditions will be grounds for a business licence suspension hearing [staff decision] or business licence revocation hearing [council decision]

Councillor Colin Basran did have some concerns with the provision allowing the city to inspect a facility at any time wondering if the RCMP would be accompanying staff members.

"Like with any business in our community there are those that are owned by very reputable people with good intentions and those that aren't," says Basran.

"I have some real concerns with our employees who are unarmed going into facilities that could potentially be run by people with not necessarily the best of intentions."

While businesses wanting to operate a production facility are required to undergo stringent background checks for themselves and all employees, City Clerk Stephen Fleming says if a bylaw officer feels there is an issue with their safety or public safety an RCMP member would come along.

Meantime, council had concerns over the cooperation or lack of from Health Canada in regards to how current facilities that will no longer be operational after March 31 are shut down.

While the RCMP and bylaws are working together to formulate an enforcement plan to ensure these operations are shut down as required by March 31, Health Canada is not providing the locations.

"This is something the RCMP is looking at nationally," says Fleming.

"There is an enforcement plan being worked upon to make sure those properties are subject to our grow-op bylaw where they have to be cleaned to a certain standard once the grow finishes. He have a high number of facilities subject to the bylaw with the challenge that Health Canada won't give us the specific addresses."

This did not sit well with council.

"I really find it discerning about Health Canada and I don't know if they really thought this through," says Maxine DeHart.

"It's really appalling to me and it's worth a discussion."

At the present time, Health Canada has approved eight licences across Canada including two in BC, one on Vancouver Island and the other in Maple Ridge in the Fraser Valley.

Blue Divider Line

Policing for profit thrives in BC
Vancouver Sun - April 2, 2013 - Section: COMMUNITY

Posted by:
Dana Larsen

In British Columbia, the government can take away your home, your car and your cash, without ever charging you with a crime.

Most people in BC are not aware of how easily the government can take away their most valuable possessions.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever been charged with a crime. In many cases the government doesn’t need to go to court at all!

The BC Liberals have made it easier and easier for police to profit from seizing private property. This trend is called “policing for profit” and it is very dangerous. Policing for profit corrupts police forces and results in policing priorities being set based on their financial gain.

NO CRIMINAL CHARGES, BUT THEY TAKE YOUR HOUSE

In 2011, the BC government seized two East Vancouver properties worth almost $1 million, because they were used to grow marijuana. The homes’ owner was never charged, and both sides agreed that the homeowner wasn’t even aware that his tenants were growing pot.

First the landlord was victimized by his irresponsible tenants, then he was given a much worse punishment by the government!

If the tenants had been committing rape or murder in their rented home, the landlord would not have lost his property. But because his tenants had a marijuana garden, the government took his houses. Does that seem fair?

In another recent case, BC’s Liberal government seized a $570,000 home from a man caught with 80 small pot plants and the remnants of a larger marijuana garden. Police didn’t bother laying charges for such a small number of plants, but that didn’t stop the Director of Civil Forfeiture from coming in and taking the man’s home.

If the man had been caught committing any other crime, he would have been charged, had a trial and possibly gone to jail. But he would not have faced the loss of his home like this. Why are accused marijuana growers singled out for this special kind of property seizure?

In neither of these cases were the men wealthy, and there was no evidence or suggestion that they had bought their homes with proceeds from the marijuana gardens. The government just took their homes because they can, and because it is easier and more profitable just to seize people’s property then it is to actually charge and convict them through the courts.

EXTREME FINANCIAL PUNISHMENTS

Compare these extreme financial punishments to the small fines received by three companies that caused a massive 250,000 litre residential oil spill in Burnaby in 2011. The companies plead guilty to 21 charges, and received fines of just $150,000 after a public clean-up that cost taxpayers $15 million.

Does having a home marijuana garden really deserve a worse punishment than causing a residential oil spill?

No-one is arguing against the government taking away assets that are proven to be proceeds of crime. That is appropriate and how the legal system is supposed to work. But despite headlines proclaiming that the government has been seizing assets “from criminals,” in most cases there have been no criminal charges at all!

Policing for profit is a dangerous trend that must be stopped.
Policing for profit is a dangerous trend that must be stopped.

Taking away the homes and cars of people who have never even been charged with a crime should not be standard practice.

The goal of the BC government’s asset forfeiture team is clearly to get the most money they can out of the people they go after. Last year, a Saanich man was caught with a duffel bag of marijuana in the back of his leased truck. The Civil Forfeiture Office waited for two years until the man had finished paying off the truck and owned it outright, then finally launched proceedings to seize it from him!

GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

It gets even worse than that. Did you know that the BC Liberals passed a law in 2011, so that now a bureaucrat can seize up to $75,000 of your property without even having to ask permission from a judge?

Under this new law, if the Director of Civil Forfeiture “has reason to believe” that something you own “is an instrument of unlawful activity,” then the government can basically just take it. If you want to get it back you’ll need to hire a lawyer and go to court.

Under all these civil forfeiture laws, there is a “reverse-onus,” which means you are assumed to be guilty, and you need to prove you didn’t break the law in order to get your property back.

All of these provincial forfeiture laws have been passed mainly to seize the homes, cars and assets from suspected marijuana growers. Yet when we ask BC politicians about the much greater revenue to be gained from the fair and equitable taxation of legally regulated marijuana products, they throw up their hands and proclaim that marijuana is a federal issue.

Wouldn’t it be better to properly regulate, tax and control the sale of marijuana, instead of just grabbing the homes and cars of those unlucky enough to get caught in the net?

Wouldn’t that be the sensible thing to do?

———————————————————————————————–

BC can decriminalize marijuana! Find out how and join the campaign at Sensible BC.

Blue Divider Line

Kelowna-Mission holds back pot reform
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Kelowna - Story: 103698 - Nov 29, 2013

Organizer Cindy Heemeryck hands over a stack of Westside-Kelowna petition forms to Sensible BC organizer, Dana Larsen

The Kelowna-Mission riding is one of a handful of ridings in the province lagging behind as Sensible BC attempts to get enough signatures to trigger a referendum on marijuana reform.

Sensible BC has until Dec 9 to collect those signatures.

Similar to the petition against the HST, Sensible BC must collect signatures from at least 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the provinces' 85 ridings. That works out to more than 400,000 signatures province-wide.

Sensible BC organizer Dana Larsen was in Kelowna Thursday afternoon to collect petitions from Premier Christy Clark's Westside-Kelowna riding.

That riding crossed the 10 per cent threshold earlier this week, acquiring more than the approximately 4,500 required signatures.

Kelowna-Mission and Kelowna-Lake Country are a different story.

"I think we're just coming up to the half way point in that district (Kelowna-Mission)," says Larsen who admits Kelowna-Lake Country is also lagging behind.

"We've had some challenges in the Fraser Valley, up north, in the Cariboo region, South Vancouver. We're working hard in those areas and we still have a lot of signatures coming in so we're keeping our fingers crossed."

With less than two weeks to go before the Dec 9 deadline to deliver the petition to Elections BC, Larsen agrees the task is daunting but they will continue to forge ahead.

"I've been concerned since day one that we might not make it. We've always known it was a big risk but we're just going to work our butts off for the next two weeks, do the best job we can," says Larsen.

"Whether we make it or not we have to put pressure on our political leaders to enact this legislation. If we don't succeed this time we are going to start getting ready right away and launch it again at some point."

As for getting the required signatures in Clark's riding, Larsen says he hopes she takes the message to heart.

"Being a former marijuana user herself she will recognize the war on cannabis users is really a failure. It's costing British Columbians a lot of money we can't really afford," says Larsen.

"British Columbians are ready for this law to change. It is clear British Columbians want this to happen and I hope she will make it happen without forcing us to go to a referendum."

Blue Divider Line

Cell phones, cash forfeited
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Kelowna - Story: 103688 - Nov 28, 2013

A 'routine' traffic stop for speeding in February has resulted in the civil forfeiture of a large sum of cash and cell phones.

On Feb 27, 2013 at 7:40 am, a member of the Central Okanagan Traffic Services was conducting stationary laser speed enforcement on Highway 33 East near McKenzie Road for northbound vehicles.

The officer stopped a red Volkswagen Beetle for going 86 km/h in the posted 60 km/h zone.

The driver was eventually arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance and his vehicle searched incidental to arrest.

During the search, police seized three cellular phones from the cab of the car as well as a backpack from the trunk found to contain two sums of cash, one of which was in a vacuum-sealed bag.

No drugs were found in the car but a Police Service Dog later 'indicated' on the bag, suggesting it may have been contaminated with drug residue.

The 30-year-old Kelowna man was released at the scene with a violation ticket for speeding.

Investigators referred the case to the BC Civil Forfeiture Office whose actions resulted in the forfeiture of $51,780 and three cellular phones.

Blue Divider Line

Legal super sized grow-op
Castanet.net - by Jennifer Zielinski - Kelowna - Story: 103696 - Nov 28, 2013

It's being recognized as the most up-to-date, sterile and most efficient medical marijuana grow operation in the province and perhaps, even the country.

Located in an industrial zone of Kelowna, Green Leaf Technologies is considered a super sized medical marijuana grow operation and at 16,000 square feet the company may get up to 10 times larger.

Health Canada will implement new rules surrounding medical marijuana and commercial licensing starting April 1.

Bob 'K', of Green Leaf Technologies says the commercial licensing that is unrolling will allow the commercial user/grower to be able to produce unlimited plant structure.

"Based on their license application, whatever that might be for them, some may apply for a million plants, some may apply for $60,000 plants and some may apply based on square footage."

Green Leaf Technologies increased their plant structure by growing on behalf of people with medical marijuana licenses.

However once the new rules come into affect those who are dependent on medical marijuana will no longer be able to receive it from Health Canada or apply for a license to grow, instead they must rely on commercial growers which some say could be costly.

Yet, Bob 'K' disagrees.

"In a controlled commercial market I personally see the price dropping. I know that is something that scares a lot of people," he explains. " I think we may see that happen and then it will level out and maybe it will gain some increase."

According to Health Canada the commercial model will also make cannabis use safer and more secure.

Green Leaf production manager Winston Butt believes that to be true.

He says Green Leaf Technologies is bringing a clean marijuana to the market that is not sprayed with chemicals.

"If you have respiratory problems you don't have to worry about breathing in anything into your system that is going to do more harm. We do our best to make sure everything is clean and organically done."

With the new regulations set to increase commercial grow operations, it also means more jobs for the industry and according to Butt working for Green Leaf is a career of a lifetime.

"It is definitely my dream job, I thought my last job was, but it wasn't. Not till I got here and realized how fun this is and the people we work with it is an excellent environment."

Medical marijuana is estimated to be a 1.5 billion dollar industry and growing. As for Green Leaf Technologies they are one of 250 companies seeking a license under the new regulations which take place in the spring.

Blue Divider Line

RCMP investigate Lake Country home invasion
By Staff Writer - Vernon Morning Star - November 17, 2013

Public assistance is being sought into what is believed to be a home invasion in Lake Country.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, a homeowner on Darlene Road was threatened at gunpoint and a large quantity of marijuana and cash was stolen.

"The RCMP feel that this was a targeted event," said Cst. Chris Joy, with the Lake Country detachment.

If you have any information regarding this incident, Cst. Darwin Robbins at 250-766-2288 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon November 14, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Governance and Services Committee Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Item 5.1 Marijuana For Medical Purposes Regulations Update

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.pdf icon November 14, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Governance and Services Committee Meeting Minutes

5. Community Services
Planning:

5.1 Update on the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) and Implications Regarding District Bylaws

Staff report dated November 4, 2013 outlined the background of the Federal governments enacted Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) for prescription, production and distribution of medical marijuana in Canada. The new regulations came into force on June 19, 2013 replacing the previous medical access regulations. Local governments are now faced with impacts to their regulations as it is expected a number of applications will be received for these new
businesses. The approaches will be varied across the province depending upon the type of setting of a local government (ie: rural vs urban). Staff provided options for consideration including the potential for amendments to the zoning bylaws.

Three official notices for medical marijuana have been received by staff-two in Electoral Area West and one in the Electoral Area East.

Staff reviewed the regulations proposed by the Federal government. It was noted that local governments cannot prohibit the use of a medical marijuana business.
The Agricultural Land Commission notes it is considered a farm use-it can be regulated, but not prohibited.

Options for moving forward were presented: status quo with current zoning or proceed with changes to the zoning bylaw to intensive agriculture. Staff is recommending the latter option. The following will be required: a business license; building permit; development permit may be required; and consultation with Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to determine if the operation falls within the agricultural use.

The question was raised whether applicants get approved prior to changes proposed? Yes, that is why staff recommends moving forward. If Health Canada issues a license before regulations are approved, the RDCO could end up with legal non-conforming uses.
• Will there be any provision for adequate services for the facilities. It will be up to the local government to have the applicant prove services required.
The subdivision bylaw would not necessarily apply.
• Who is liable if a contaminated water source occurs? Due to that concern as we move forward with bylaw amendments staff will include referrals to Health Canada, IHA, and provincial ministries to ensure concerns are captured.
• Staff noted that Health Canada advised that there is officially no cap on the number of licenses being issued or geographic restriction. Health Canada will be putting out a comprehensive fact sheet within the next few weeks.
License for these operations will not be issued until a building is complete and meets all the Federal requirements as well as local requirements. By December 2013 Health Canada will issue which licenses may be currently issued,
• Lake Country and West Kelowna are zoning facilities in industrial areas.
With the ALC ruling this may be challenged. Peachland is zoning within the ALR. Kelowna has not made a decision at this point.
• Concern may be odor issue for the facilities-will Health Canada provide regulations with this? Staff noted that the ALC Executive Director has toured a facility developed with the new regulations in place and they were not aware of what was being grown in the facility until they walked into the facility and saw the plants.
• The question is who will enforce the standard of a facility-this is not known at this time.
• The RCMP has been officially notified of the two potential sites-one in West Kelowna and one in Central Okanagan West.
• Within the RDCO there are very few industrial or commercial zoned properties.

EDGSON/BAKER
THAT the Governance & Services Committee recommends that the Regional Board receive for information the Update on the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations and Implications Regarding District Bylaws report of November 4, 2013;
AND FURTHER THAT staff be directed to proceed with an amendment to the electoral area zoning bylaws to permit medical marijuana grow operations as a form of "intensive agriculture".

CARRIED

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio November 14, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Governance and Services Committee meeting - .mp3 (12.2 MB)

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Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon November 14, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

10.2 Rise & Report Governance & Services Committee Meeting - Nov 14, 2013

a) Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations and Implications Regarding District Bylaws

Staff report dated November 4, 2013 outlined the changes to regulations the Federal government has enacted for marijuana for medical purposes.

EDGSON/BASRAN
THAT the Regional Board receive for information the Update on the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations and Implications Regarding District Bylaws report of November 4, 2013;
AND FURTHER THAT staff be directed to proceed with an amendment to the electoral area zoning bylaws to permit Medical Marijuana Grow Operations as a form of "intensive agriculture".

CARRIED

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Blue Divider Line

Outspoken cop alleges VicPD tried to muzzle his views on drug legalization
By Bethany Lindsay, Vancouver Sun October 25, 2013

Outspoken cop alleges VicPD tried to muzzle his views on drug legalization

A Victoria police constable who is also a vocal supporter of drug legalization is pursuing a human rights complaint against the VicPD and Chief Jamie Graham.

Const. David Bratzer, the current coordinator of the department's bait car program, filed the complaint early this year, claiming his superiors infringed on his freedom of speech because of his political beliefs.

In a decision Friday, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal accepted the bulk of Bratzer's complaint for filing, despite protestations from the police department that the allegations contained within it fell outside of a six-month time limit.

Bratzer is the president of the Canadian branch of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and supports the eventual full legalization and regulation of all drugs. He regularly participates in public forums on drug policy and writes opinion pieces on what he views as the failures of the War on Drugs.

According to tribunal documents, when Bratzer first joined LEAP in 2008, he told his bosses that he would let them know when he performed any public work on behalf of LEAP, and promised he would always make clear that his views were personal and did not represent those of VicPD.

Despite those pledges, which he says he has kept, Bratzer alleges that he has been barred from participating in a panel discussion on harm reduction, ordered not to publicly comment on the Washington State's successful marijuana legalization referendum and repeatedly reminded of Graham's disapproval.

Those actions, Bratzer told the tribunal, "demonstrate repeated efforts to restrict, prevent or deter him from the responsible public expression, outside working hours, of his political belief."

The complaint also names Insp. Jamie Pearce, who last year wrote a letter to Bratzer informing him that he must get advance permission from his officer in charge before giving a public opinion that is "contrary to positions that the executive of Board of the Victoria Police Department is taking, or is reasonably expected to take on behalf of the Department."

Bratzer's allegations have yet to be argued in front of the tribunal.

blindsay "at" vancouversun.com

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Blue Divider Line

Feds shut illicit drug prescription loophole
Sun News Network - October 3rd, 2013

Feds shut illicit drug prescription loophole
Canada's Health Minister Rona Ambrose speaks at a press conference


OTTAWA — The feds snapped shut a medical legal loophole Thursday that let doctors to prescribe illicit drugs to addicts.

The immediate changes scrap illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, LSD and ecstasy from being prescribed under Health Canada's Special Access Program (SAP), which is designed to give patients with rare or terminal illnesses access to drugs and treatments not usually available in this country.

In September, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said she was shocked to learn bureaucrats had signed off on prescription requests from doctors to give heroin to their addict patients.

Ambrose said giving drugs to users as treatment went against the government's anti-drug policy and "violated the spirit and intent" of the SAP.

"Our policy is to take heroin out of the hands of addicts, not to put it into their arms," she said at the time.

In July 2011, a clinical trial called SALOME got the green-light to begin research into whether prescribing pharmaceutical-grade heroin to addicts can be an alternative treatment for chronic drug users.

Justin Karasick, a spokesman for SALOME with the Providence Health Care in British Columbia, said Thursday his organization was reviewing the impact of the new rules on current and exiting trial participants.

Ambrose said the changes will have no impact on ongoing trials.

Karasick said doctors for 35 participants in the drug trial requested access to heroin for addicts exiting the trial under SAP, and 21 were approved.

"They have continuing health care needs after they exit and their physicians determine what's the best treatment options they should be pursuing," he said.

"Some did go on methadone. Some the physicians deemed need for other treatment."

Those approved three-month prescriptions will be honoured, Ambrose said, but not renewed — at least through SAP.

Ambrose said the doctors can always seek approval at the provincial level if they believe it's the best course of treatment for their patients.

"There are other avenues for the physicians to take if they want to go down that road," she said.

"I have a feeling that the doctors came through this route did so because they knew they'd be denied through another route."

Addicts can still access treatment with approved drugs such as methadone.

Ambrose said the findings made her want to "start a conversation about recovery and treatment."

"We have been very narrowly focused on certain controversial drug treatments."

Heroin is approved for use in the "maintenance" treatment of addicts in some European countries, including Switzerland and Denmark.

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon September 23, 2013 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

This was a Director Item so nothing was mentioned in the Highlights about Director Item Mayor Findlater UBCM CFCU, Grow-ops, and Prov. Prisoner Costs

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.pdf icon September 23, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon This was a Director Item so nothing was mentioned in the Agenda about Director Item Mayor Findlater UBCM CFCU, Grow-ops, and Prov. Prisoner Costs

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.pdf icon September 23, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

10. DIRECTOR ITEMS

b) UBCM Resolutions - it was noted District of West Kelowna and Kelowna had support for their various resolutions to UBCM.

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.pdf icon September 12, 2013 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

Nothing was mentioned in the Highlights about Director Item Director Gray noise legislation and Director Findlater about 3 UBCM resolutions, marijuana being one.

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Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files September 12, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item Director Gray noise legislation and Director Findlater about 3 UBCM resolutions, marijuana being one - .wma (1.95 MB)

.pdf icon September 12, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Nothing was mentioned in the Agenda about Director Item Director Gray noise legislation and Director Findlater about 3 UBCM resolutions, marijuana being one.

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio September 12, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (5.82 MB)

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.pdf icon September 12, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

9. DIRECTOR ITEMS
It was noted that various directors will be attending the Union of BC Municipalities Convention next week in Vancouver. The Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition will be hosting a discussion on the rural BC project. Various resolutions have been put forward by member municipalities: Kelowna-noise bylaw resolution; West Kelowna-federal funding of police officer recruitment fund, prisoner cost recovery, and extension of municipal grow op bylaw provisions to regional districts

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio September 12, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (5.82 MB)

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Blue Divider Line

Mayors warn feds of medical pot mayhem ahead
By Jeff Nagel - Surrey North Delta Leader - September 17, 2013

Lower Mainland mayors are predicting disaster when Ottawa cancels medical marijuana growing licences in thousands of B.C. homes next spring in favour of new commercial producers.

They warned federal officials at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention Tuesday that the transition – without any teeth to enforce closure and cleanup of the soon-to-be-illegal home grows – will push them further into the grip of organized crime and leave cities with a legacy of contaminated houses.

"You created this nightmare," Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman told Health Canada representatives, noting Ottawa refused to identify licensees so cities could inspect them and ensure they're safe.

He said the federal government therefore has a moral obligation to help ensure medical pot grow houses are made safe so subsequent buyers don't unsuspectingly move their families and children into homes with serious mould problems or electrical or fire code violations.

"Fix the problem you helped create," Banman demanded. "These people are going to close these homes down, they're going to slap a little paint on and nobody is going to be the wiser. That is borderline criminal."

Health Canada would take steps to remediate if it were tied to properties contaminated with asbestos, he suggested, so it should do the same when under B.C. law past use of a property as a grow-op must be disclosed for health reasons.

Other mayors, including Chilliwack's Sharon Gaetz and Kelowna's Walter Gray, predicted medical growers won't stop voluntarily.

"Dave's not here, man," quipped Burnaby Coun. Nick Volkow in a rendition of Cheech and Chong.

Asked by the mayor of Mission what will be done to ensure growers shut down, Health Canada's Todd Cain said licensees will be notified they must cease production, decommission and remediate.

"Beyond that, we're really relying on them to follow the law," he said, drawing laughter.

"They're going to take that letter and roll it in product and they're going to smoke it – that's what's going to happen," predicted Mission Coun. Dave Hensman.

He demanded to know how Ottawa justified licensing 700 legal medical pot grows in Mission – a community of 30,000 people – and said he opposes his municipality spending a dime to clean up the problem.

"I'm not going to shut them down and you're not going to shut them down. So dude, it's not going to work."

Cain said privacy restrictions still prevent Ottawa from disclosing permitted grows.

He said Health Canada could begin certifying legal producers within weeks and some of the expected 50 to 75 producers to be chosen nation-wide are expected to be in operation well before the official April 1 launch date of the new system.

More than 100 licence applications have been received and about 40 are from B.C., most of them located in the Lower Mainland.

Hensman said the Lower Mainland doesn't need that many commercial growers, suggesting more be located elsewhere in Canada.



Medical pot price to vary

New medical marijuana grown in large-scale commercial operations will be sold at various price points, federal officials say.

"What we're hearing from producers is there will be quite a range," Health Canada spokesman Todd Cain said.

He said producers expect to offer between four and 30 different strains at different prices, some of them as low as about $3.50 or $4 a gram, adding that's significantly lower than medical pot users previously feared.

"Supply and demand, once the market is established, will drive the pricing," Cain said.

Pot distribution will be done only by mail or courier, not through any pharmacies or retail outlets.

In response to questions about pot being lost in the mail, Cain noted the existing federally run medical marijuana plant in Saskatchewan already ships product through a combination of courier and mail with a "good success rate."

Shipments will be in the form of dried marijuana only.

It will be sent in individual airtight packets of 30 grams each, limited to a maximum of 150 grams per shipment.

Cain predicted the new system will close loopholes that allowed abuse while ensuring qualified medical users can legally get marijuana.

Users who are prescribed marijuana by a doctor will be permitted to possess 150 grams or a 30-day supply, whichever is lower.

There are 35,000 existing permitted medical pot users in Canada.

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.pdf icon April 22, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting Minutes

2. ADDITION OF LATE ITEMS

6.3 Letters of Support - Central Okanagan Sobering Centre

=======================

6.3 Letters of Support - Central Okanagan Sobering Centre

Social Development Coordinator, Christene Walsh, presented the Board with letters of support for the establishment of a sobering centre in the Central Okanagan.

FINDLATER/FIELDING
THAT the letters of support for the establishment of a sobering centre in the Central Okanagan be forwarded to the Interior Health Authority and local MLAs for information and continuing support of a sobering centre within the Central Okanagan.

CARRIED

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio April 22, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (25.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files April 22, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about letters received in regards to a Sobering Center - .wma (205 KB)

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.pdf icon February 25, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting Minutes

Nothing was mentioned in the Highlights, Agenda, or Minutes about Director Items Findlater and Hanson about SILGA Resolutions in regards to grow-ops, prison funding, and gas tax tier funding.

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 25, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (26.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 25, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Items Findlater and Hanson about SILGA Resolutions in regards to grow-ops, prison funding, and gas tax tier funding - .wma (1.67 MB)

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.pdf icon February 25, 2013 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting

Nothing was mentioned in the Highlights about Director Item Director Gray about Sobering Center because this was a Director Item

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 25, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (26.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 25, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item Director Gray about Sobering Center - .wma (493 KB)

.pdf icon February 25, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Nothing was mentioned in the Agenda about Director Item Director Gray about Sobering Center because this was a Director Item

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 25, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (26.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 25, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item Director Gray about Sobering Center - .wma (493 KB)

.pdf icon February 25, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Board Meeting Minutes

12. DIRECTOR ITEMS

Nothing was mentioned in the Minutes in regards to Director Item Director Gray about Sobering Center

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 25, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (26.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 25, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Item Director Gray about Sobering Center - .wma (493 KB)

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Canada's new medical marijuana rules cut homegrowers, pharmacists out
The Canadian Press - Monday, June 10, 2013

OTTAWA -- After two years of study and discussion, the federal government has finalized new rules for medical marijuana and granted a reprieve to pharmacists who opposed the rules in their draft form.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq rolled out the regulations today for formal publication in the Canada Gazette on Wednesday.

Under the new regime, the government will no longer produce or distribute medical pot and medical marijuana users will no longer be allowed to grow the product at home.

Health Canada said since the medical marijuana program was introduced in 2001, it has expanded to 30,000 people from the original 500 authorized to use the product.

"This rapid increase has had unintended consequences for public health, safety and security as a result of allowing individuals to produce marijuana in their homes," the department said in a news release.

"Under the new regulations, production will no longer take place in homes and municipal zoning laws will need to be respected, which will further enhance public safety."

Under the new regulations, the government will allow patients to buy prescribed amounts only from licensed growers who will be required to meet strict conditions.

In previous versions of the regulations, pharmacies were to distribute the product just like other medications, provoking concern from pharmacists, who expressed concerns about dispensing a product without sufficient research. They also cited security concerns.

The final version removes the pharmacists from the loop, leaving patients to rely on mail order for their medical marijuana.

"While the courts have said that there must be reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana for medical purposes, we believe that this must be done in a controlled fashion in order to protect public safety," Aglukkaq said in a statement.

"These changes will strengthen the safety of Canadian communities while making sure patients can access what they need to treat serious illnesses."

She used similar reasoning last week when she introduced new hurdles for the creation of supervised drug-injection sites in response to a court ruling.

Physicians and pharmacists alike questioned the regulatory changes, saying there is little evidence that medical marijuana is either effective or safe.

The umbrella group representing the country's colleges of physicians and surgeons said the changes won't protect people.

"We believe that the new federal medical marijuana regulations put patients and the general public at risk," Dr. Rocco Gerace, president of the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada, said in a statement.

"Physicians should not be asked to prescribe or dispense substances or treatments for which there is little or no evidence of clinical efficacy or safety."

In December, the president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Anna Reid, described the proposed marijuana rules as "akin to asking doctors to write prescriptions while blindfolded."

"Not only does prescribing drugs that haven't been clinically tested fly in the face of medical training and ethics, but marijuana's potential benefits and adverse effects have not been rigorously tested."

The Canadian Pharmacists Association responded in February to a set of draft rules.

"There is little information available on safety, effectiveness, dosage, drug interactions or long-term health risks," the association said in its letter to Health Canada.

"Pharmacists, physicians and nurse practitioners need evidence-based information to support safe and effective prescribing and dispensing of (medical marijuana)."

The association said it didn't know how many pharmacies would be willing to participate a revamped system.

"While the distribution process would be regulated, there remains the concern with pharmacists dispensing a product that does not have adequate safety and effectiveness evidence. In addition, the potential security risks to pharmacies due to robberies would need to be considered."

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.pdf icon February 14, 2013 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

There is nothing mentioned in the Highlights about Director Luke Stack bringing a noise resolution to SILGA, or anything about Grow Ops

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 14, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (11.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Luke Stack discussing a resolution to enact noise laws he is wanting to take to SILGA - .wma (522 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Findlater discussing not being able to get a mortgage on a Grow Op and Grow Ops moving to Electoral areas due to Municipalities having legislation and Regional Districts not having legislation so are designing a resolution for that - .wma (1.85 MB)

.pdf icon February 14, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

7. DIRECTOR ITEMS

c) District of West Kelowna Resolutions to SILGA

Director Findlater noted that the District of West Kelowna council are considering various resolutions for this years' SILGA convention (tiered funding for future federal gas tax funding; authority for regional districts to adopt bylaws as municipalities can for dealing with grow-op houses; provincial wide noise bylaw).

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio February 14, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (11.1 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Luke Stack discussing a resolution to enact noise laws he is wanting to take to SILGA - .wma (522 KB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files February 14, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Director Findlater discussing not being able to get a mortgage on a Grow Op and Grow Ops moving to Electoral areas due to Municipalities having legislation and Regional Districts not having legislation so are designing a resolution for that - .wma (1.85 MB)

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As of December 15, 2012, the proposed Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations are published in Canada Gazette, Part I and are available for comments for the following 75 days, ending February 28, 2013.

Comments will be accepted in writing, by email, fax or mail.

By Mail:
Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulatory Reform,
Controlled Substances and Tobacco Directorate,
Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch,
Health Canada,
Address Locator: AL3503D
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9

E-mail: consultations-marihuana "at" hc-sc.gc.ca
Facsimile: (613) 941-7240

The proposed regulations are not yet finalized. Your comments will be taken into consideration in the development of final regulations, which is expected for Spring 2013.

Source: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/marihuana/future-avenir/consult_futur-eng.php

Source: http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2012/2012-12-15/html/reg4-eng.html

Apparently March 31, 2014 all Medical Marijuana grow licenses will expire

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UP IN SMOKE – BC JUDGE AWARDS COSTS FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA
By Bronwyn Martin - Sep. 2, 2011

In the recent decision of Joinson v. Heran, 2011 BCSC 727, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brown awarded a plaintiff costs for medical marijuana arising out of a medical malpractice action. This is the first time in Canada that costs have been awarded for medical marijuana.

The plaintiff, who suffered damages after the defendant neurosurgeon performed a surgery on the wrong vertebrae, sought $822,308 for the cost of medical marijuana for the rest of his natural life. The plaintiff claimed he used approximately 10 grams of marijuana a day, and spent $700 a week on marijuana in various forms. Further, the plaintiff’s treating psychiatrists approved of up to 20 grams a day, which would be equivalent to 27 joints, as it allowed the plaintiff to reduce his consumption of morphine.

Justice Brown raised concerns about the use of up to 20 grams a day, as it was well in excess of the one to three grams recommended by Health Canada. Concerns were also raised over the detrimental effects of such a high dosage, as the research before the court suggested a daily dosage of more than 5 grams has negative effects on the cardiovascular, pulmonary and immune systems. Finally, it was noted the plaintiff smoked marijuana recreationally, even before the erroneous surgery. This, Justice Brown held, had to be taken into account.

After considering these various factors, Justice Brown stated that “the foundational principle for an award of a cost of future care is that the expense must be both medically justifiable and reasonable on an objective basis. It is not enough to show merely that it is beneficial; the medical evidence must show that it is reasonably necessary.”

Applying this principle, Justice Brown found that an award for the cost of medical marijuana was appropriate, however it was determined that $30,000 was sufficient. This amount was reached by allowing the plaintiff 5 grams per day, and priced as if purchased from a Health Canada legally authorized source. That total was reduced by 50% because of the plaintiff’s recreational use of marijuana that would have occurred regardless of the negligence of the defendant.

In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, the plaintiff said while he was glad the decision sets a precedent for medicinal-cannabis users, he was ultimately disappointed as “it was supposed to be for the rest of [his] life”.

This decision provides an interesting discussion of the way in which the court will assess the costs of alternative treatments, such as marijuana. What is instructive is that the plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that the use of marijuana is both beneficial and reasonably necessary, on the basis of medical evidence.

It also demonstrates a return to first principles of tort law: The plaintiff ought to be returned to the position he was in before the tortious act. In this case the plaintiff was a pre-accident marijuana user. After the accident he was a recreational marijuana user who had to use additional marijuana for medicinal purposes. Accordingly, a blanket award of costs for a lifetime supply of marijuana was inappropriate, as it did not take into account the marijuana the plaintiff would have consumed regardless.

As medical marijuana becomes more commonly used as a method of pain control this issue will undoubtedly come up again.

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B.C. activist pulls petition to decriminalize pot; will file again next year
GlobalTVBC - Wednesday, November 21, 2012

VANCOUVER - A B.C. marijuana activist has withdrawn his petition to decriminalize pot, saying he will spend the next 10 months gathering volunteers and support before submitting it again.

Elections BC approved a petition in September by Dana Larsen, who wants to use B.C.'s unique citizen's initiative legislation to force a debate on the issue or even a referendum.

The petition calls for changes to the Police Act to prohibit the use of provincial police resources to enforce simple possession-and-use laws for adults.

Elections BC formally issued the petition last Friday, and Larsen says his plan was always to use the current petition as a "test run" before actually gathering signatures after submitting it again in the fall of next year.

If he files again, Larsen will have 90 days to gather the signatures of 10 per cent of registered voters in each of the province's 85 ridings.

If he achieves that, a committee of the legislature could then choose to either send the matter to the legislature for a vote or call a provincewide, non-binding referendum.

An initiative petition has only received the required number of signatures once before in B.C. and that prompted a mail-in referendum over the harmonized sales tax, which was killed as a result.

While the results were not binding, the Liberal government had earlier promised it would scrap the tax if a majority of voters wanted it gone.

The Canadian Press, 2012

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Pot-smoking driver in Saskatoon deemed not impaired
CBC News - Aug 31, 2012

Judge says ability to walk heel-to-toe not related to ability to drive

A woman who admitted to using marijuana before getting into her car has been acquitted of impaired driving, with the Saskatoon judge saying he was not convinced her ability to operate a vehicle was affected.

The case, recently published to an online legal database, concerned the arrest of a woman on June 19, 2011, who was pulled over during a routine traffic enforcement program.

According to the judge, the officer directed her to pull over even though she was driving appropriately and in her proper lane of travel.

Unlike drunk driving cases, where .08 per cent is the legal limit for a person's blood-alcohol level, there's no equivalent for marijuana-impaired driving. Instead, officers must rely on a lengthy list of tests to establish impairment.

'I would have appreciated some evidence as to how these observations related to the accused’s ability to drive a motor vehicle.'—D. E. Labach, provincial court judge

In the Saskatoon case, when the officer went to the woman's car, he detected what was described as an "overwhelming odour of marijuana."

He decided to investigate further and learned from the woman that she had smoked some marijuana earlier in the evening.

With that, the officer decided to have the woman perform a number of roadside tests, including walking heel-to-toe and touching the tip of her nose with her finger.

Missed her nose

"She was only successful in touching her nose on one of six attempts," the judge noted in his decision. "On the other five attempts, she touched her face right under her nose."

The officer noted that the woman had reddened eyes, something consistent with marijuana use.

A urine sample was also taken and confirmed that the woman had used marijuana.

However, the judge was not convinced there was any evidence that the woman's driving ability was impaired.

In his decision, the judge said he was left with several unanswered questions, including:
1.What signs of impairment would one expect to see in someone who has been using marijuana?
2.How long after using marijuana would you expect to see these signs and how long would they last?
3.Can the results of drug evaluation tests taken over 1 hours after the time of driving be reliably related back to the time the woman was stopped?
4.Was the woman's performance in some of the tests an indication of poor balance or poor co-ordination?

On the other hand, the judge found there was plenty of evidence to suggest the woman was not impaired, noting:
1.The officer did not observe any problems with her driving as she came to the check stop, when she was directed into the check stop or when she was directed to drive out of the line of cars to a nearby parking lot.
2.She had no problems understanding the officer or answering his questions and did not slur her speech.
3.She was able to provide him with her licence without any problems and had no difficulty following the officer's instructions or getting out of her vehicle.
4.When he asked her to take her hand off her vehicle and step away from it, she did so without problem. She did not have to hold on to anyone or anything for balance and after he handcuffed her, she had no problems walking to his police car and getting into the back seat.
5.She was polite and co-operative with the officer.

The judge added he was not sure how the finger-to-nose test and the walking heel-to-toe test related to one's ability to drive a car.

"I would have appreciated some evidence as to how these observations related to the accused’s ability to drive a motor vehicle," the judge said.

Ultimately, the judge said he was left with reasonable doubt on the charge and the woman was acquitted.

The prosecutor on the case told CBC News that Crown lawyers were still deciding whether to appeal.

Her Majesty the Queen - and - Sherry Wallin Perillat

===================================

Compared to drinking and driving, how serious a problem is smoking marijuana and driving?

It's equally bad. 27.37% (430 votes)
It's worse. 2.23% (35 votes)
It's nowhere near as bad. 70.4% (1,106 votes)

Total Votes: 1,571

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Sensible BC - Deciminalize Marijuana - www.sensiblebc.ca

IF YOU THINK THAT POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA SHOULD NOT BE A POLICE PRIORITY, THEN JOIN US NOW!

Welcome to the Sensible BC campaign to decriminalize marijuana possession in our province.

We are a coalition of academics, activists, law enforcement professionals and health care providers who are working towards sensible policies on marijuana and policing.

We are calling upon the BC government to pass the Sensible Policing Act, which would redirect provincial police from making arrests or citations in cases of simple marijuana possession.

We are also gathering support and volunteers for a provincial referendum on this issue.

Please register now in support of our campaign, so that we can collect your official signature for the referendum campaign.

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Waters: Time for rest of Central Okanagan's mayors to speak out about pot prohibition
By Alistair Waters - Kelowna Capital News - April 30, 2012

The call for legalization—or at least decriminalization—of marijuana in B.C. is getting louder.

Last week eight B.C. mayors, including James Baker of Lake Country, Robert Sawatzky of Vernon, Chris Pieper of Armstrong, Howie Cyr of Enderby, and John Ranns of Metchosin on Vancouver Island, Darrell Mussamotto of the CIty of North Vancouver and Burnaby's Derek Corrigan and Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson released a letter they all signed calling on Victoria to tax and regulate the drug as a way of helping stop gang violence in this province and help make communities safer. They sent the letter to premier Christy Clark, NDP leader Adrian Dix and B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins

The mayors' call comes on the heels of similar demands in recent months by four former Vancouver mayors and four former B.C. attorneys general. The attorney's general served in both Liberal and the NDP government of the past.

Unlike some who staunchly hold on to the view that lumps marijuana into the same category as heroin and cocaine and considers it just as worthy of a legal ban, the latest group of mayors to speak out have come to the realization that the pot prohibition is helping feed B.C.'s growing culture of crime.

In their letter, they say the current prohibition has lead to large-scale grow ops, increased organized crime, ongoing gang violence and the need for increased police budgets to deal with the problems.

Without saying it directly, they make a strong case that with more marijuana available than ever before, it's clear the pot portion of the "war on drugs" has been lost.

The mayors say 85 per cent of the province's marijuana industry is controlled by criminal groups and the total industry is now worth $7 billion per year.

"It is time to tax and strictly regulate marijuana under a public health framework," wrote the mayors.

The fact the letter was written by four rural area mayors—leaders of smaller B.C. communities—as well as three big city mayors shows that the issue is not just one that affects the Lower Mainland.

With the federal Conservative government making it clear it will not support any relaxation of the current laws concerning marijuana at the national level, any move by the province is likely still a long ways off. But that does not mean the mayors' call should go unheeded.

As B.C. municipalities like to say, there is strength in numbers. So, more mayors should join the call.

Here in the Central Okanagan Kelowna's, West Kelowna's and Peachland's mayors should jump aboard the wagon Baker has helped set in motion.

The Lake County mayor deserves credit for taking a stand on a controversial topic.

Now, do his colleagues in the other Central Okanagan municipalities have the guts to follow suit?

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News

Blue Divider Line

Vancouver city council call to end prohibition on marijuana
News 1130 - Shane Bigham - May 01, 2012

Unanimous vote towards health-based strategy for dealing with the popular recreational drug

BC mayors back legalized pot: Does it influence your view?
City of Vancouver to debate pot decriminalization
Thousands smoke up downtown for 4/20 annual rally

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - Vancouver city council is calling for an end to the prohibition on marijuana. They are supporting the Stop the Violence campaign, calling for the adoption of a health-based strategy for dealing with the popular recreational drug.

The vote in favour of the motion was unanimous, with Green and NPA councillors supporting the motion put forward by Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang.

"The federal (marijuana) laws are failing Vancouver, and they are failing Canadians" says Jang. "We have to do something more than just saying it's illegal. We have to find a way of regulating it and getting it out of our neighbourhoods."

He says marijuana should be treated like alcohol or tobacco, with rules governing where and how the product is sold. He add that the city needs to find a way to "tax the hell out of it," as former Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell once famously said.

"What really surprises me now is when I walk through the streets of Vancouver, we're not just seeing teenagers smoking it, but I'm finding nine and 10 year olds," Jang laments. "In fact, people are telling me that even four year olds are getting it. And it's easier to get marijuana these days than it is tobacco."

He says laws that simply prohibit things do not work, as we have seen in the past with bans on alcohol and tobacco.

Jang adds rules governing tobacco have helped to reduce smoking rates across the country, and suggests a similar effort could possibly see a reduction in the number of people smoking marijuana.

Mayor Gregor Robertson also spoke to the motion, shortly before council voted.

"The estimate I've seen is that over a third of the funding that gangs operate with is generated from marijuana" he said.

"Clearly, we have to start re-routing that cash, and if we can do that to the public good, into looking after our city and taking care of our healthcare and education systems in particular, I think it would be a significant improvement."

Last month, Stop the Violence BC invited John McKay to Vancouver to speak in favour of regulating and taxing marijuana. McKay is a former US Attorney, the same one who prosecuted BC's Prince of Pot, Marc Emery.

Emery is serving a five year prison sentence in the US for selling seeds through a Vancouver-based mail-order business to customers in the US.

Along with officially endorsing Stop the Violence BC, Vancouver council has instructed staff to send letters to the Union of BC Municipalities, and to the federal and provincial ministers of health and justice, informing them of council's new position on the marijuana issue.

Blue Divider Line

Do you agree it's time to legalize marijuana in BC?

Yes: 78.86%
No: 21.14% 
Total Votes: 2734

Source: Castanet.net Poll April 30, 2012

Blue Divider Line

Support legalization of marijuana?
Castanet.net - by Contributed - Story: 74563 - Apr 30, 2012

A coalition of BC mayors is urging provincial political leaders to support the regulation and taxation of cannabis to better protect communities, reduce crime and undercut gang activity resulting from the illegal marijuana trade.

On Thursday morning, the coalition of eight mayors sent a letter addressed to Premier Christy Clark, NDP leader Adrian Dix and BC Conservative party leader John Cummins.

The list includes Vernon Mayor Robert Sawatzky, Lake Country Mayor James Baker, Armstrong's Chris Pieper, Enderby's Howie Cyr and Vancouver's Gregor Robertson.

Through the encouragement of Stop the Violence BC, the mayors signed on to the letter, which asks the provincial leaders to take a new approach to marijuana regulation.

The mayors have stepped forward in an effort to draw attention to the issues of crime and violence directly related to marijuana prohibition, asking their counterparts across the province to join them.

“We are all well aware of the human, social and financial costs of marijuana prohibition, and it does not make sense to bear them any longer,” says Sawatzky.

“We invite mayors from across BC to consider the escalating costs of prohibition, and join our efforts to implement evidence-based cannabis policies that reflect our commitment as municipal leaders to community health and safety.”

In their letter, the mayors’ endorsed Stop the Violence BC (STVBC), a coalition of academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts campaigning to reform cannabis laws.

The mayors join a growing list of recent high-profile endorsements, including four former mayors of Vancouver, the Health Officers Council of BC and four former BC Attorneys General.

Dr. Thomas Kerr, Director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the BC Centre for Excellence and a Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC, is also a member of STVBC.

"What we want to do is point out that much of this problem is being driven by marijuana production in BC and that despite all the efforts to try and control cannabis production and use, availability is higher than ever, prices have gone down and purity has gone up," says Kerr.

"All the available evidence shows that the current approach isn't working and that is also having the perverse effect of enriching organized crime and promoting violence."

Kerr adds that BC marijuana is being used to purchase cocaine connected to the Mexican Cartels responsible for the escalating violence there.

Kerr's group is optimistic that today's announcement points to a change in how politicians approach the debate.

"We have a situation where currently elected politicians, not former politicians, are sticking their necks out and saying enough is enough. Taxation and regulation is a better way to protect public health and safety and to save tax dollars currently being wasted on a policy that really only contributes to gang violence and organized crime."

STVBC also argues that legalization and regulation would eventually lead to a decrease in the number of recreational users. As proof, Kerr points to the success of anti-smoking campaigns.

"Some of the very large population level declines in cigarette smoking have occurred not through prohibition, but through public health messaging. If you tax cannabis and direct some of those funds towards public health activities, you can have some positive health impacts."

Blue Divider Line

Kelowna mayor didn't feel comfortable signing pro pot letter
By Alistair Waters - Kelowna Capital News - April 30, 2012

Kelowna's mayor says he was at the meeting in which several Okanagan mayors were asked to sign a letter supporting the decriminalization of marijuana.

But unlike his Lake Country, Enderby, Armstrong and Vernon counterparts, Walter Gray declined, offering instead to petition the Union of B.C. Municipalities to include Stop The Violence B.C. in a forum at its annual convention in September to "start a national dialogue" on the issue.

"We were all asked to sign on but I felt it was a big leap for a (newly elected) mayor to make at that time," Gray said Monday. Gray was re-elected mayor of Kelonwa in November after nine-years ut of public office. Five of his eight councillors are rookies.

The meeting with Stop The Violence, a group dedicated to either legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana in B.C. to reduce the involvement of organized crime and curtail increasing police budgets needed to fight the problems associated with the current pot prohibition, took place in Kelowna about six weeks ago, said Gray.

Last week, the four Okanagan mayors, along with their counterparts in Vancouver, Burnaby the City of North Vancouver and the small Vancouver Island village of Metchosin, released a letter they sent to Premier Christy Clark, NDP leader Adrian Dix and B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins calling on the province to regulate and tax marijuana in a bid to take the drug out of the hands of criminals.

Gray, while he has not formulated a personal position on legalizing or decriminalizing pot, or had direction from his council, he has sent his letter to the UBCM. As of Monday, he had not received a reply.

He said Stop The Violence has, however, been invited to publicly address Kelowna council directly on the issue at an upcoming public council meeting.

The mayor, who said he believes the issue is a federal one and ultimately needs to be adressed at that level, said it is important that the public let the government in Ottawa know exactly how it feels about the issue.

"I believe that something as sensitive as this needs the Canadian public to send a strong signal to government," said Gray.

So far, publicly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he has no intention of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana.

Despite that position, Gray said he is happy to try and start national conversation on the issue and he hopes the UBCM will be that forum.

The mayors who signed the letter to the provincial politicians said they are concerned about growing levels of violence in their communities as a result of Canada's current marijuana laws, the presence of organized crime and the costs to deal with those issues.

“Given the ongoing gang activity, widespread availability of marijuana and high costs associated with enforcement, leaders at all levels of government must take responsibility for marijuana policy,” the letter said. “We are asking you as provincial leaders to take a new approach to marijuana regulation.”

The mayors’ letter comes after four former B.C. attorneys general — including former B.C. premier and federal health minister Ujjal Dosanjh — called for marijuana decriminalization in February. Former Vancouver mayors Larry Campbell, Mike Harcourt, Sam Sullivan and Philip Owen made a similar call for pot decriminalization late last year.

Gray said he would like to see a forum at the UBCM meeting in September because that could include other points of view necessary for a proper discussion of the issue.

He agreed a concern for municipalities is the level of funding for policing due to drug crimes and said he was told 70 per cent of all drug crimes in this country are related to marijuana. The mayors who sent the letter to Clark, Dix and Cummins estimated the production and sale of marijuana in B.C. is now a $7 billion a year industry.

Gray said if marijuana is to be decriminalized, it should also be regulated and taxed.

awaters "at" kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

A round table for Mayors
Castanet.net - by Grant Scott - Story: 74400 - Apr 27, 2012

The four member municipalities of the Inter-Municipal Services Advisory Board - Kelowna, West Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton - are continuing their work on common municipal issues including transit governance, the Okanagan Basin Water Board and environmental permitting.

The board is made up of the four municipal mayors and chief administrative officers.

On Friday, April 20, Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray, Vernon Mayor Robert Sawatzky, West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater and Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton met to plan ahead for the rest of 2012.

“By continuing to work together, the four municipalities are able to address areas of mutual concern, which will be a benefit to all the citizens of the Okanagan Valley,” says Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton.

In the past, that has included agreement on a common Safe Premises bylaw to handle properties found to be cultivating illegal drugs, the launching a Bylaw Dispute Adjudication System and lobbying for continued support of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of the RCMP, dedicated to organized crime activity.

This time around, the group discussed partnership opportunities with BC Transit, which is considering implementing a three-person panel to work with municipalities on planning.

The Mayors agreed that larger centres would like to work in tandem with its provincial transit partner, making the panel available to assist smaller centres with planning.

The group also noted it is looking forward to the Okanagan Basin Water Board’s strategic planning session scheduled for early June, and would call on municipal peers at the coming Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) convention in Revelstoke to offer the OBWB suggestions and recommendations for consideration during its planning process.

Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton also broached the topic of environmental permitting issues relating to the reconstruction of streamside infrastructure, such as dike systems.

The City of Penticton will take the lead on the matter, writing a letter to senior government to review the lengthy and often costly process required before municipalities are able to conduct needed repairs.

Mayors Gray, Sawatzky, Findlater and Ashton signed two joint letters at the meeting: one to Premier Christy Clark seeking funding support for private landowners for forest fire mitigation and the other to the Union of BC Municipalities seeking a change in how funds are allocated under the Gas Tax Agreement.

Ongoing concerns that impact all member municipalities were also discussed, including enforcement of lakeshore zoning regulations and the RCMP policing agreement.

Inter-Municipal Services Advisory Board meetings are held quarterly and alternate between municipalities. The four mayors represent more than 80 per cent of the Okanagan’s population.

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Mayors: The dope on regulating pot
Castanet.net - by Grant Scott - Story: 74425 - Apr 26, 2012

A coalition of BC mayors is urging provincial political leaders to support the regulation and taxation of cannabis to better protect communities, reduce crime and undercut gang activity resulting from the illegal marijuana trade.

File photo: Kelly Hayes

A coalition of BC Mayors have signed a letter urging provincial leaders to support change to marijuana laws in BC.

On Thursday morning, the coalition of eight mayors sent a letter addressed to Premier Christy Clark, NDP leader Adrian Dix and BC Conservative party leader John Cummins.

The list includes Vernon Mayor Robert Sawatzky, Lake Country Mayor James Baker, Armstrong's Chris Pieper, Enderby's Howie Cyr and Vancouver's Gregor Robertson.

Through the encouragement of Stop the Violence BC, the mayors signed on to the letter, which asks the provincial leaders to take a new approach to marijuana regulation.

The mayors have stepped forward in an effort to draw attention to the issues of crime and violence directly related to marijuana prohibition, asking their counterparts across the province to join them.

“We are all well aware of the human, social and financial costs of marijuana prohibition, and it does not make sense to bear them any longer,” says Sawatzky.

“We invite mayors from across BC to consider the escalating costs of prohibition, and join our efforts to implement evidence-based cannabis policies that reflect our commitment as municipal leaders to community health and safety.”

In their letter, the mayors’ endorsed Stop the Violence BC (STVBC), a coalition of academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts campaigning to reform cannabis laws.

The mayors join a growing list of recent high-profile endorsements, including four former mayors of Vancouver, the Health Officers Council of BC and four former BC Attorneys General.

Dr. Thomas Kerr, Director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the BC Centre for Excellence and a Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC, is also a member of STVBC.

"What we want to do is point out that much of this problem is being driven by marijuana production in BC and that despite all the efforts to try and control cannabis production and use, availability is higher than ever, prices have gone down and purity has gone up," says Kerr.

"All the available evidence shows that the current approach isn't working and that is also having the perverse effect of enriching organized crime and promoting violence."

Kerr adds that BC marijuana is being used to purchase cocaine connected to the Mexican Cartels responsible for the escalating violence there.

Kerr's group is optimistic that today's announcement points to a change in how politicians approach the debate.

"We have a situation where currently elected politicians, not former politicians, are sticking their necks out and saying enough is enough. Taxation and regulation is a better way to protect public health and safety and to save tax dollars currently being wasted on a policy that really only contributes to gang violence and organized crime."

STVBC also argues that legalization and regulation would eventually lead to a decrease in the number of recreational users. As proof, Kerr points to the success of anti-smoking campaigns.

"Some of the very large population level declines in cigarette smoking have occurred not through prohibition, but through public health messaging. If you tax cannabis and direct some of those funds towards public health activities, you can have some positive health impacts."

For a copy of the letter, visit Stop the Violence BC.

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BC Mayors Call for Taxation and Regulation of Marijuana

April 26, 2012

To: Premier Christy Clark, Mr. Adrian Dix and Mr. John Cummins
From: James Baker, Chris Pieper, Derek Corrigan, John Ranns, Howie Cyr, Gregor Robertson, Darrell Mussatto and Robert Sawatzky

Re: Discussion required on marijuana policy

Dear Premier Clark, Mr. Dix and Mr. Cummins:

As mayors of BC municipalities, we are fully aware of the harms stemming from the province’s large illegal marijuana industry. Our communities have been deeply affected by the consequences of marijuana prohibition including large-scale grow-ops, increased organized crime and ongoing gang violence. Increasing law enforcement costs also significantly impact municipal budgets.

We see a seemingly endless stream of anti-marijuana law enforcement initiatives in our communities, yet marijuana remains widely and easily available to our youth. Based on the evidence before us, we know that laws that aim to control the marijuana industry are ineffective and, like alcohol prohibition in the US in the 1920s, have led to violent unintended consequences.

The case against current marijuana laws is compelling. Despite major taxpayer investments in law enforcement activities, the marijuana market has not been suppressed. Furthermore, the province’s massive illegal marijuana trade drives organized crime in BC and throughout the Pacific Northwest. The Organized Crime Agency of BC estimates that organized crime groups control 85% of BC’s marijuana trade, which the Fraser Institute estimates is worth up to $7 billion annually. U.S. federal prosecutors have identified BC-based drug gangs that control the marijuana trade as “the dominant organized crime threat in the Northwest.”

Even though anti-marijuana law enforcement is active and growing, marijuana potency is increasing while price is decreasing. Rates of use remain high. Youth report easier access to marijuana than to tobacco while organized crime reaps massive marijuana-related profits. Given these facts, we conclude that a more effective, evidence-based approach to controlling marijuana is urgently needed.

As BC mayors, we support the Stop the Violence BC campaign. It is time to tax and strictly regulate marijuana under a public health framework; regulating marijuana would allow the government to rationally address the health concerns of marijuana, raise government tax revenue and eliminate the huge profits from the marijuana industry that flow directly to organized crime. According to public health experts, strict regulation of the marijuana market may also reduce marijuana use. In fact, the success in reducing rates of tobacco use has been achieved through public health regulation, not prohibition.

We are also concerned about the policing and related law enforcement costs that will be placed upon municipalities due to proposed federal mandatory minimum sentencing legislation related to marijuana. Such prescribed and inflexible policies have proven costly and ineffective in the US. We ask you to instead consider how a public health framework that calls for strict marijuana regulation and taxation can help address the intractable problems of gangs and gang violence in BC.

Stop the Violence BC is not alone in its call for a regulated, public health approach to adult marijuana use. The Fraser Institute and the Health Officers Council of BC, among others, have made similar recommendations and your BC public is onside. According to a recent Angus Reid poll, only 12% of British Columbians support the current approach of marijuana prohibition, with the vast majority supporting taxation and regulation.

We recognize and fully understand public dissatisfaction with today’s marijuana laws. Therefore, we will be recommending that the Union of BC Municipalities support a motion in favour of taxation and regulation of marijuana. We also encourage politicians to speak their conscience, even if their views go beyond the silence coming from the political parties themselves.

Given the ongoing gang activity, widespread availability of marijuana and high costs associated with enforcement, leaders at all levels of government must take responsibility for marijuana policy. We are asking you as provincial leaders to take a new approach to marijuana regulation. Our communities, our youth and our public finances will benefit from an evidence-based, public health approach to marijuana.

Signed,

James Baker, Mayor Lake Country
Chris Pieper, Mayor of Armstrong
Robert Sawatzky, Mayor of Vernon
Howie Cyr, Mayor of Enderby
John Ranns, Mayor of Metchosin
Darrell Mussatto, Mayor City of North Vancouver
Derek Corrigan, Mayor of Burnaby
Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver

Download the Letter Here

CC:Mr. Heath Slee, Director
Union of BC Municipalities
60-10551 Shellbridge Way
Richmond, BC V6X 2W9

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City of Vernon wants pot regulated
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - April 10, 2012

Vernon politicians have joined the chorus calling for marijuana laws to be scrapped.

Council voted Tuesday to ask the federal government to regulate cannabis as a way of reducing crime, rationalizing police resources and creating a new source of revenue for communities.

“Prohibition and criminalization hasn’t worked. This is a possibility of a new approach,” said Coun. Bob Spiers.

Mayor Rob Sawatzky also supports legalizing access to marijuana.

“Most well informed people who have studied the issue have determined prohibition is a failed policy,” he said.

A retired physician, Sawatzky believes decriminalization could lead to better ways of handling addiction.

“Drinking is more open (because it’s legal) and you can deal with alcoholics. It’s difficult to deal with criminals,” he said of treatment programs.

Opposition came from Coun. Brian Quiring.

“I can’t ever support the legalization of marijuana. I’ve seen what it does,” he said.

Quiring says he understands the argument that legalizing marijuana may reduce crime and gang activities, but he still doesn’t believe that route should be followed.

“It’s not good for the community,” he said.

The city’s actions come after a presentation from Stop the Violence B.C.

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B.C. judge strikes down portions of medical marijuana law
By Louise Dickson, Postmedia News - April 13, 2012

Owen Smith (centre), the Victoria man who was the head baker for the Cannabis Buyers’ Club of Canada, will still have to stand trial on charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Owen Smith (centre), the Victoria man who was the head baker for the Cannabis Buyers’ Club of Canada, will still have to stand trial on charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Photograph by: Darren Stone, timescolonist.com (Jan. 2012)

VICTORIA — People authorized to use medical marijuana can now bake it in brownies and spread it on toast, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled Friday.

Justice Robert Johnston concluded that the section in Health Canada's Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) restricting recipients to using only the dried form of the drug is unconstitutional as it breaches the Charter of Rights section guaranteeing 'life, liberty, and security of the person.'

"The remedy for this breach is to remove the word 'dried' where it appears in the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations and I so order," said Johnston.

The decision comes out of a constitutional challenge by Owen Smith, the head baker for the Cannabis Buyers' Club of Canada.

Smith, 29, was charged on Dec. 3, 2009, with possession for the purpose of trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana, two years after an apartment manager complained to police about a strong, offensive smell wafting through the building.

Police obtained a search warrant for the apartment and discovered substantial quantities of cannabis-infused olive oil and grapeseed oil and pot cookies, destined for sale through the club.

At the time he was charged, he was producing oils and topical and edible cannabis-based products for the club.

Smith's trial began in January with a voir dire — a trial within a trial — on a charter application challenging the restrictions in the MMAR which allow authorized users to possess medical marijuana in dried form only.

Defence lawyer Kirk Tousaw argued the laws were unconstitutional and arbitrary and did not further the government's interests in protecting the health and safety of the public. Instead, the regulations predominantly forced critically and chronically ill Canadians to smoke medical marijuana, which is potentially harmful.

"Even an authorized person, under Health Canada's regime, is unable to produce cannabis butter to make cookies to eat before bed, or when they get up in the morning to deal with chronic pain," Tousaw told the court.

During the trial, patient witnesses testified they wanted the opportunity to drink tea infused with cannabis, or eat pot cookies or apply topical oils infused with cannabis. These other modes of ingestion are more effective and less harmful than smoking or vaporizing dried marijuana, said Tousaw.

Non-dried options, however, are available already through some distributors of medical marijuana in Canada.

The British Columbia Compassion Club Society lists a daily menu of its products available for medical users.

While the bulk of these items are intended to be smoked — either dried marijuana or hashish — the club also had a section of "non-smokeables" on Friday, which included cookies, brownies, muffins, lollipops and pesto.

On Friday, Tousaw said he was grateful for Johnston's decision.

"This will pave the way for permitted users to possess and produce this medical substance in forms other than dried," said Tousaw. "Permitted users can drink it in tea or bake it with edible oils."

Tousaw also sought a judicial stay of proceedings for Smith. Johnston dismissed that application. Smith is to appear in court on April 25 to set a date for jury selection and trial.

Johnston was expected to hear arguments later Friday on whether his decision should be suspended for a period of time to allow the governments to respond.

At this time, it's not known what position the Crown will take.

Tousaw intends to argue the suspension is not necessary.

"I'm hopeful the ruling will go into effect immediately and that Canadians who benefit from the use of medical cannabis in forms other than dried, other than smoked, will be able to without fear of arrest or prosecution," said Tousaw.

In previous cases, the government has appealed adverse rulings, he said.

Outside court, Owen Smith said he felt a flutter in his heart at the word 'unconstitutional.'

"I'm really proud of all the work we've done so far. Lots of patients and members of the club have been very supportive. We're going to keep going and do just as good a job in the next round in front of a jury," said Smith.

It's hard to think a jury would deny others a safer form of medicating, he said.

Ted Smith, the proprietor of the Cannabis Buyers' Club of Canada, said he wasn't surprised by the decision.

"I had a firm belief in the law being wrong," he said.

Smith, who is no relation to the accused, said he's not intimidated by the prospect of a jury trial.

"I'm confident no jury in this country will convict Owen for making cookies and skin products. It will give us another opportunity to change public opinion. Today, we changed the law."

ldickson "at" timescolonist.com

With a file from Postmedia News

Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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B.C. Supreme Court justice strikes down section of medical marijuana law
By Louise Dickson, timescolonist.com - April 13, 2012

Owen Smith (centre), the Victoria man who was the head baker for the Cannabis Buyers’ Club of Canada, will still have to stand trial on charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Owen Smith (centre), the Victoria man who was the head baker for the Cannabis Buyers’ Club of Canada, will still have to stand trial on charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Photograph by: Darren Stone , timescolonist.com (Jan. 2012)


Click here to download the PDF of the decision

A B.C. Supreme Court justice has struck down a section of Health Canada’s medical marijuana laws.

Friday morning, Justice Robert Johnston concluded that the restriction to dried marijuana in the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations is unconstitutional as it breaches Section 7 of the Charter of Rights.

If the decision stands, it means medical-marijuana users will be able to possess cannabis in any form.

“The remedy for this breach is to remove the word ‘dried’ where it appears in the medical marijuana access regulations and I so order,” said Johnston.

Owen Smith, the Victoria man who was the head baker for the Cannabis Buyers’ Club of Canada, will still have to stand trial on charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Smith is to appear in court April 25 to fix a date for jury selection and trial.

Friday morning, his lawyer Kirk Tousaw called the ruling a partial victory.

“The medical marijuana access regulations are unconstitutional. They have been stricken. That goes into effect immediately,” he told Smith’s supporters outside the courtroom.

“I suspect because Owen broke the law and was supplying to people who weren’t just MMAR people, he doesn’t get to walk away from this just because the law is unconstitutional.”

The parties have been told to appear in court at 2 p.m. The Crown may apply to declare Johnston’s ruling invalid or ask for some time to allow the government to respond.

Crown prosecutor Peter Eccles said he needed to read the judgment before deciding what to do.

Smith launched his court challenge in January. Tousaw argued that under the charter, Health Canada’s medical-marijuana program is unduly restrictive and constitutionally flawed because permitted users were only allowed to possess marijuana for medical reasons in dried form.

“Even an authorized person, under Health Canada’s regime, is unable to produce cannabis butter to make cookies to eat before bed, or when they get up in the morning to deal with chronic pain,” he said.

For more news, go to the Times Colonist.com

Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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Former attorneys general want pot legalized
News1130 Staff - Feb 14, 2012

Activist applauds the move

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - The cause to end marijuana prohibition has picked up another group of high-profile supporters.

Former BC Attorneys General Ujjal Dosanjh, Colin Gabelmann, Graeme Bowbrick and Geoff Plant say a legalized, regulated system will cut down on gang activity and ease court backlogs.

Pot activist Jodie Emery says it's a sign of the times.

"Most Canadians have wanted legalization or an end to prohibition for years and we have more and more respected officials and politicians and experts joining the course to end prohibition, even though they're not pro-pot and they're not endorsing the use of drugs," she says.

The four men say instead of a ban, governments should regulate the sale of marijuana under a public health framework and tax the sales, raising money for the provincial government. Dosanjh says pot is a big contributor to gang violence in BC.

"We need to tax and regulate so that we don't provide the cannabis capital for people to take to the United States and bring cocaine back," he says. "Take our lesson from the alcohol prohibition in the US. It led to violence and gangs and once it was regulated they disappeared."

Their biggest hurdle is likely Stephen Harper, who says his government has no plan to ever legalize drugs.

The head of Canada's police chiefs wouldn't comment when given the chance today at a news conference in New Westminster.

Premier Christy Clark says while she respects the views of the former AG's, she's leaving marijuana enforcement up to the federal government.

Blue Divider Line

The Office of the Prime Minister has forwarded to me a copy of your correspondence concerning the Government’s approach to illicit drugs in Canada. I regret the delay in responding.

The production and trafficking of illicit drugs is the most significant source of money for gangs and organized crime. It does profound harm to neighbourhoods, where homes are turned into grow-ops and crystal meth labs. Our government is taking action to address this complex problem by ensuring that serious drug offences that are linked to organized crime, involve violence, or target youth result in mandatory jail time.

We believe that Canadians’ confidence in our justice system eroded over the years due to policies and a sentencing regime that often ignored the interests of victims and the protection of society as a whole. Canadians lose faith in the criminal justice system when they feel that the punishment does not fit the crime. Offenders who produce and traffic illicit substances, who deliberately seek out youth, and who endanger residential areas through their activities should serve sentences that reflect the serious nature of their crimes.

As you may know, on September 20, 2011, the Government tabled in the House of Commons Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act. The Bill has been adopted by the House of Commons and is currently before the Senate. Among other things, this legislation proposes amending the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to impose mandatory minimum penalties for people convicted of serious drug offences. Bill C-10 will disrupt criminal organizations by targeting those who supply illicit drugs and ensure that individuals who commit serious drug crimes are punished through a balanced and focused approach. It does not propose mandatory minimum penalties for the offence of simple possession and it requires the presence of aggravating factors before minimum penalties can be imposed.

Under the proposed amendments, mandatory minimum penalties would be imposed, depending on the existence of aggravating factors that make the commission of the offence particularly severe, including whether the production of the drug constituted a potential security, health, or safety hazard.



The aggravating factors are as follows, where the offence:

- was committed for the benefit of organized crime;

- involved use or threat of violence;

- involved use or threat of use of weapons;

- was committed by someone who had been previously convicted (in the past 10 years) of a drug offence;

- was committed in a prison;

- was committed in or near a school, in or near an area normally frequented by youth, or in the presence of youth;

- involved a youth in the commission of the offence;

- was committed in relation to a youth (e.g. selling to a youth);

- involved access to an area that is restricted to authorized persons;

- was committed by someone who abused a position of trust or authority; and

- is one of importing, exporting, or production, and the offence was committed for the purpose of trafficking.



The security, health, and safety factors are as follows:

- the accused used real property belonging to a third party to commit the offence;

- the production constituted a potential security, health, or safety hazard to children who were in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area;

- the production constituted a potential public safety hazard in a residential area; and

- the accused placed or set a trap.

With respect to the offence of producing between 6 and 200 cannabis plants, the Bill proposes a mandatory minimum penalty of 6 months of imprisonment; however, the production must be for the purpose of trafficking. If the production is for personal use, there is no mandatory minimum penalty.

While the drug-related provisions of Bill C-10 are tough on serious drug crime, they do not ignore the drug addicted offender. Under certain circumstances where the accused person is addicted to an illegal substance, this bill will allow a court to suspend a sentence while the addicted person takes an approved treatment program. Such programs encourage the accused person to deal with the addiction that motivates the criminal behaviour. If the person successfully completes the program, the court may impose a sentence other than the mandatory minimum sentence, such as a suspended sentence.

Tougher and longer sentences are necessary to protect society from violent and dangerous offenders. All sentences must hold offenders accountable for their crimes and rehabilitation plays an important part in the sentencing process. Violent or dangerous offenders may require longer sentences in order to effectively achieve this sentencing objective. Prematurely returning an offender to the environment that led to the behaviour in the first place is not in the best interests of the offender or of society.

By introducing such penalties, our government is sending a strong message that serious drug crimes will not be tolerated. I am confident that the reforms contained in Bill C-10 will help provide Canadians with safer and healthier communities in which to live.

It is important to note that most of the former bills proposed in C-10 were debated and studied in committee in previous Parliaments. Over the course of the past 4 years, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has spent at least 67 days discussing these measures. This includes 139 hours of discussion, 95 hours of debate, 261 speeches, and 363 witness appearances. By acting swiftly to reintroduce these proposed reforms, we are fulfilling our electoral promise to move forward with this legislation and pass it as expeditiously as possible.

I note your support for legalizing marijuana. As you may be aware, marijuana is psychoactive substance that causes alteration of mental and physical functions. The use of psychoactive substances raises issues of public health and safety, both for the user and for those in the broader society affected by the user’s conduct.

Many Canadians are concerned that a relaxation of the law prohibiting possession of marijuana would result in greater use of the drug and therefore would increase the health and safety hazards associated with it. Although research is still continuing on the effects of marijuana use, there is enough information to clearly identify health hazards. Regular and heavy use of cannabis can lead to a psychological or physiological dependence, thereby worsening an individual’s overall condition.

Moreover, legalizing access to marijuana would put Canada in contravention of international agreements to which it is a party, including the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. This convention, for instance, obliges Canada to maintain stringent domestic control over certain drugs, including marijuana. In particular, Canada is required to treat possession, sale, cultivation, and importing activities involving this substance as punishable offences.

I note your views on this issue; however, I would like to point out that the Government has no intention to introduce legislation that would decriminalize the possession of cannabis. The Government is opposed to decriminalizing or legalizing illicit drugs.

I appreciate having had your comments brought to my attention.

Yours truly,
The Honourable Rob Nicholson

===============================

okanaganlakebc.ca reply

All your crime bill will do is make marijuana production more lucrative and create more crime.... why can't you see that? Marijuana is no more harmful than cigarettes and cigarettes are legal. I believe my government is ignorant of its people and can't see the light if the switch was turned on!

Why don't you allow grow ops and demand electrical inspections so they are not a hazard? As far as I am concerned my government is creating a safety hazard.

No amount of jail sentence will decrease the fire hazard that government is creating. I live in the Okanagan and if some illicit grow op in my neighbourhood starts a forest fire where I live, I will be taking my government to court.

 

Pedophiles to serve less than growers
by The Canadian Press - Story: 65234 - Sep 27, 2011

The Conservative government is using its majority muscle to push through Parliament a massive crime bill that provides harsher penalties for pot growers than pedophiles.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the legislation, made up of nine bills that were introduced in previous years, "is an investment to better protect Canadians in their homes and make them feel safer in their communities."

But just how large an investment, and how it will impact crime levels, remain open questions.

Joe Comartin, the NDP justice critic, said the bill is an uncosted hodge-podge of measures that include the good, the bad and the ugly.

"If you're a mid-level trafficker in drugs, including marijuana, you can get up to 14 years. If you're the same person but you sexually assault, rape, a baby, you can only get up to 10 years," said Comartin.

New mandatory minimum sentences are also harsher for drug crimes, in some instances, than for sexually assaulting a child.

"That's right in this bill," said Comartin.

Tough new laws on Internet luring of children and grooming children for sexual purposes are supported across all party lines, said the NDP critic, and could have been passed before last spring's election if the Conservative-dominated Senate had acted more swiftly.

No one appears to have a firm grip on how much the new crime measures will cost. Prison expansion, new corrections officers, additional court resources and the six-figure price tag for incarcerating a prisoner for each full year all add to the bottom line.

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page said Tuesday there are big expenditures that are starting to happen, but he has not seen a price tag for the overall plan, something he says Parliament and Canadians need to know.

Page estimated that, based on the pieces of information he's cobbled together, the cost of the government's tough-on-crime agenda is upwards of $3 billion.

"What we would like to be able to do is track the spending quarter by quarter, relative to the overall plan, but we don't have that overall plan in terms of what that aggregate cost will be," he said.

Conservative MP Larry Miller made a pitch based on the legislation's gut appeal, stronger penalties for child sexual exploitation.

"I'll tell you, Mr. Speaker, as a grandfather of a six- and three-year-old granddaughter, this means a lot to somebody like me," said the rural Ontario MP.

"The stronger the laws we can make to protect our children and the vulnerable, it shouldn't even be a question as to support for this bill."

Comartin later noted that he, too, has grandchildren.

"The difference here is we could have that law in place so Larry Miller and myself and other people who are really concerned about our kids could see that (exploitation) law in place in the next few weeks, as opposed to four or six months, which is what it'll take if we keep it combined," said the New Democrat.

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Team Harper forces vote on crime bill
by The Canadian Press - Story: 65209 - Sep 27, 2011

The Conservative government is flexing its majority muscle, forcing an early vote in Parliament on a massive crime bill that critics say will send Canada down the route of the failed U.S. war on drugs.

A vote Tuesday in the House of Commons limited debate on the omnibus legislation to two days before punting it to a Conservative-dominated committee for what is likely to be a perfunctory study.

"They're going to impose the guillotine no matter what," predicted Thomas Mulcair, the NDP House leader.

The bill includes nine separate pieces of legislation that previous Parliaments failed to pass, including several highly contentious items:
• Barring anyone with more than three indictable convictions from ever being allowed to apply for a criminal records pardon.
• Setting new, mandatory, minimum sentences for growing six or more marijuana plants, among other drug offences.
• Centralizing and politicizing control over the transfer of Canadians imprisoned abroad back to Canada.

New Democrats want those elements of the bill taken off for separate debate, while fast-tracking measures in the legislation that would toughen sentences for crimes against children, enshrine victims' rights in parole hearings and increase the good-behaviour waiting period for pardon applicants.

But the Harper government does not appear to be in a mood to compromise.

"The fact is, while the Opposition continue to look at ways to delay or obstruct these important measures, Canadians gave our government a strong and clear mandate to continue making our streets and communities safer," Pamela Stephens, a spokeswoman for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, said in an email.

Rookie Conservative MP Mark Strahl was more blunt in a posting on a social networking site: "We're just delivering on campaign promises. Get used to it."

The costs of imprisoning more people, for longer periods of time, have not been fully explained by the government, nor has the full cost of prison expansion been detailed. Lawyers and criminologists say the new laws, particularly the drug provisions, will require more court resources due to more charges and less plea bargaining.

Critics say many of those additional costs will be borne by provinces.

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DWK Council highlights
by Castanet Staff - Story: 64443 - Sep 9, 2011

The following are highlights of the District of West Kelowna Council meeting held Tuesday, September 6, 2011.

Medical Marihuana - Council was provided with an update on legislation relating to medical marihuana and options for the District with regard to Health Canada approved medical marihuana operations and locations within the community. Health Canada is not required to notify local governments of issued licenses to grow marihuana. Local governments typically become aware of grow operations after investigating a complaint from a neighbour or through RCMP investigation. Council agreed to look into zoning bylaw amendments and consulting legal counsel to ensure amendments do not conflict with Federal legislation and advocate that Health Canada include a provision for notification of local governments and to ensure that the proposed changes to the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations respond to community and municipal needs. Council also agreed to send a senior staff member to a Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) working group meeting on September 29. The FCM working group was formed from municipal representatives to provide input into Health Canada’s proposed changes to licensing of medical marihuana.

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Canada's pot laws go up in smoke
Sympatico News 13/04/2011

by Nevil Hunt
If the federal government doesn't fix the medical marijuana system, pot will be legal to grow and possess in less than 90 days. Will Cheech and Chong head north?

BONG! Some reports say that's the sound an Ontario judge's gavel made when he ruled our pot laws unconstitutional earlier this week.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Donald Taliano found that the medical marijuana system in Canada doesn't work.

Sick people are unable to find doctors willing to give them a licence to possess pot, and since the government hasn't done anything to improve the situation, the laws prohibiting growing or possessing the weed should no longer apply.

There's plenty of fodder here for jokes about Doritos sales skyrocketing or people using the judge's paperwork as giant rolling papers, but there's a serious principle at stake.

Let's leave out the pot and look at the root cause, so to speak.

Would we accept a more socially acceptable drug being withheld from those in need? Probably not. Politics is at play.

The definition of negligence is knowing there's problem, yet doing nothing about it.

In the case of medical pot, the federal government – namely Health Canada – has known the system of doctor authorizations is broken, and has done nothing to fix it.

During the case heard by Taliano, people suffering from fibromyalgia, seizures, and other afflictions spoke about visits to as many as 37 doctors, all of whom turned them down when they sought authorization for a licence to possess weed. The Canadian Medical Association has asked the federal government not to make doctors the gatekeepers of licences, but they were ignored too.

And getting that licence is just the first hurdle. If a sick person is approved for a licence, the delay in getting final authorization from Health Canada could be as long as nine months.

Legitimately sick people shouldn't have to deal with a sick system, and that's what Taliano concluded. He understood that the federal government will only act when forced to do so.

The ruling comes within days of an American report that says one per cent of U.S. power consumption is used to grow pot.

The sobering report concluded that the generators often used to power all the lights and fans for indoor grow-ops produce 17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. It takes more than 250 liters of diesel fuel to produce one indoor pot plant.

That means a single joint represents two pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

The good news: efficiency improvements of 75 per cent are conceivable, the author writes, just by moving the growing plants outdoors.

So if we combine our Canadian court case and the American grow-op report, the solution becomes clear. We would all be better off if pot is grown outdoors and legally.

Allow small-scale production and small-scale possession of marijuana, and you enjoy: reduced demands on our courts, removal of organized crime from distribution, hydro conservation and reduced greenhouse gases. And best of all, easy access for people who need the drug.

Do the positives of pot legalization outweigh the negatives? What effect do you think legalized pot would have in the long run?

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Ontario court strikes down Canada’s pot laws
ADRIAN MORROW - Globe and Mail - Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2011

An Ontario court has struck down Canada’s laws against possessing and growing cannabis as part of a ruling that found the country’s medicinal marijuana program is failing to provide access to the drug for those who need it.

Smoking up, however, is not legal just yet: the federal government has three months to launch an appeal or change its regulations to fix the problems identified by the court.

Mr. Justice Donald Taliano of the Ontario Superior Court struck down the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, arguing they aren’t doing enough to ensure patients can obtain the necessary approvals to use the drug. Simultaneously, he ruled two sections of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act – those that prohibit simple possession and cultivating marijuana – are unconstitutional, since they can be used to criminally charge medicinal users who haven’t been able to obtain such approval.

The ruling means the government must either improve its system for licensing medicinal marijuana patients within 90 days, or it will become legal to use or grow the drug for any purpose. The government can, however, buy itself more time by appealing the ruling.

The government office handling the case could not be immediately reached for comment on what it planned to do.

The ruling is not the first time the courts have come to the assistance of those who use cannabis to alleviate their illnesses. A 2000 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling compelled the government to create the medicinal marijuana program or have its prohibitions against cannabis thrown out altogether. Other court rulings have pointed to specific problems with the medicinal marijuana rules.

This, however, is the first time a court has thrown the whole thing out, said Jacob Hunter, policy director with the Vancouver-based Beyond Prohibition Foundation. Even though the current ruling applies only to Ontario, he said it would have ramifications across the country.

“We know historically that decisions in Ontario have had an effect nationally, especially on this issue,” said Mr. Hunter, who is also a licensed medicinal marijuana user.

The court decision hinged on the difficulty medicinal users have in finding a doctor willing to sign the necessary paperwork. The problem, Judge Taliano ruled, is that the government requires patients to obtain the approval of a doctor to take marijuana legally but does not give physicians adequate training or fund sufficient clinical trials of the drug. As a result, much of the medical community refuses to approve its use.

“Rather than promote health – the regulations have the opposite effect. Rather than promote effective drug control – the regulations drive the critically ill to the black market,” he wrote. “Surely, the right to choose belongs to the patient, not to government that has failed to create the environment for better research into the drug’s effectiveness and harmful qualities.”

The case was brought forward by Matthew Mernagh, a 37-year-old man from St. Catharines, Ont., who couldn’t find a doctor to approve his use of marijuana to relieve the symptoms of several illnesses, including fibromyalgia and scoliosis. He was charged with cultivating his own cannabis, charges that were also stayed by Judge Taliano.

Several other medicinal users of the drug testified they faced similar problems, and that Health Canada would take months to process their applications.

Judge Taliano agreed with Mr. Mernagh’s argument that criminally charging patients who had to resort to illegally buying cannabis amounted to a violation of their Charter right to liberty.

Proponents of medicinal marijuana have long argued that Health Canada’s system is flawed and that the roughly 10,000 people approved to use the drug represent only a tiny fraction of those who should qualify for the program.

“For the last nine years, patients have been complaining about the ineffectiveness of the medicinal marijuana program,” said Ron Marzel, a Toronto lawyer who has represented medicinal marijuana clients. “This judge finally accepted those concerns.”

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Driver smokes joint at police stop
CBC News - 11/07/2011

A brazen driver shocked police by lighting up a joint at a traffic checkpoint in Yarmouth, N.S.

RCMP were conducting a routine vehicle inspection last Wednesday afternoon when the smell of marijuana caught their attention.

Officers walked over to a car with its windows rolled down. Inside was a man casually smoking a joint.

"I honestly don't know what to think," RCMP traffic services Cpl. Andy Hamilton told CBC News.

"It doesn't make any sense to a police officer or the person on the street. You know, this person is obviously a user, a consumer, but why he decided to light up within eyesight of the officers is anybody's guess."

Officers spent an hour trying to determine if the man was impaired. He passed the test, but they charged him with possession of marijuana.

"It appears that this was the one and only joint that was smoked," Hamilton said.

Fortunately for the man, stupidity is not against the law, he added.

"It's probably a good thing that it isn't. We wouldn't be able to write enough tickets."

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Law Enforcement against Prohibition (LEAP)

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April 9, 2010

Marc Emery the Prince of Pot has a message for everyone

on U-Tube

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POT - A CURE FOR CANCER?

http://www.phoenixtears.ca/

http://www.phoenixtears.ca/article/life-experiences/list-of-experiences/testimonial-list.html

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This Poll was a bit confusing.

June 5, 2011 Castanet Poll

Do you believe the current `war on drugs` in Canada is adequate?

Yes: 68
No: 217

Total votes: 285

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From Health Canada's website -- WHAT, $20???  HUH????

Normally a package of vegetable or flower seeds are under $4.00

This is what Health Canada's website says:

Marihuana seeds will be provided at a cost of $20.00 per package of 30 seeds.

The quantity provided will be calculated based on the maximum number of plants you or your designated person are permitted, by licence or exemption, to produce or cultivate (an amount that is based on your daily approved amount). Representatives of Health Canada will contact you to both determine the quantity of seeds that are required and complete the order.

Typical costs are:

* One package: $20*
* Two packages: $40*
* Three packages: $60*

Source: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/marihuana/how-comment/applicant-demandeur/form_e2-eng.php

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Vernon wants grow-op details
Vernon Morning Star - By Richard Rolke - June 15, 2011

There is a concern that medicinal marijuana may be fuelling criminal activity.

On Monday, the City of Vernon supported the RCMP’s demands that the federal government notify enforcement agencies and municipalities on where licenses to grow marijuana have been issued.

“We need to know where they are so we can make sure things are policed properly and there is no risk to neighbours,” said Coun. Bob Spiers .

The RCMP claim licensed medical marijuana-grow sites have led to participation by organized crime and home invasions because of the potential profits from the illegal sale of marijuana.

A recent study looked at 180 medicinal marijuana-grow sites across Canada between 2004 and 2010. It indicated that 67 were involved in trafficking and production beyond the terms of the federal license.

“We have had concerns for children in those homes having access to chemicals in grow-ops,” said Supt. Reg Burgess, with the Vernon RCMP.

“There is insufficient control given to local authorities on where medical grow-ops should be.”

Burgess says Health Canada only has one inspector per 388 licenses in the country.

“Health Canada can license medical marijuana growing sites but it has no capacity to inspect them and the community has no capacity to know where they are,” he said.

Besides potential criminal activity, there is a concern that there is an increased risk of fire in grow-ops and chemicals may be dumped into the sewer system.

“We can’t access who they are under Health Canada,” said Clint Kanester, the city’s bylaw enforcement manager, of federal privacy laws.

Vernon will pursue the matter at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September. If there is sufficient support there, the federal government will then be lobbied to make changes to its notification process.

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Growing medical marijuana: Should government foot the bill?
CBC.ca - By Community Team - May 27, 2011

A Nova Scotia couple is suing the provincial government for the cost of equipment and electricity to produce medical marijuana.

Marijuana plants flourish under grow lights at a warehouse in Denver. (Ed Andrieski/Associated Press)

Sam and Tanya (who asked that their last names not be used) have licences from Health Canada to grow marijuana for their own use.

They have disabilities and are on income assistance, and they say they don't have the money for the equipment and electricity needed to grow pot indoors.

Last year, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ordered the government to pay for the medical marijuana for a Halifax women on income assistance.

In a related story, the RCMP says some medical marijuana licences are being misused to produce more plants than are legally allowed, or to produce hashish.

Should government cover the costs for low-income licensed marijuana growers? Do the rules for medical marijuana need to be changed to address problems like low-income patients and licence misuse? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Poll when we looked.  The poll was still open.


Yes 49.5% (200 votes)
No 43.81% (177 votes)
I'm not sure 6.68% (27 votes)

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Medical pot decision worries N.S. premier
CBC News - Thursday, April 1, 2010

Darrell Dexter speaks with reporters in Halifax Thursday. (CBC)
Nova Scotia's premier fears that a court ruling ordering the province to pay for the medical marijuana of a woman on income assistance may set a costly precedent.

Darrell Dexter said officials are studying the decision because it could mean that the province has to cover the cost of other drugs that aren't currently on its list.

"An order to cover one may extend to other drugs as well," Dexter said Thursday. "The potential for the province to become liable for all manners of therapies, treatments outside of what coverage is normally provided is potentially there in this decision."

Dexter said the province must be protected from having to pay big bills as a result of the court decision, but he has no objections regarding the specific case.

"I'm concerned with the public policy question of how we fund the drugs that we have," he said.

On Wednesday, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ordered the Department of Community Services to pay the pot bill for Sally Campbell, a Haligonian with fibromyalgia and chronic hepatitis C.

Campbell, who is on income assistance, has Health Canada's blessing to smoke pot to deal with her symptoms. She asked Community Services for an increase in her allowance to pay for the marijuana, but was turned down.

Campbell's doctor told the department's assistance appeal board it was essential for her health, and was refused again. The board said it didn't believe the benefits of medical marijuana have been scientifically proven.

But the court ruled that whether the benefits have been proven is not for Community Services to decide.

Dexter said he's not aware of any province that covers the cost of medical marijuana, nor did he know how much he would cost to add it to the list.

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Green team releases bust results
Castanet.net - by RCMP - Story: 61428 - Apr 14, 2011

Photo: Castanet Staff - File Photo

The numbers are in from 12 recent Green Team busts in the Central Okanagan.

For about four weeks in February and March, West Kelowna and Kelowna Rural RCMP members went 'Green' during a special project targeted at marijuana grow operations in three different jurisdictions.

In addition, RCMP say that more than 12 pounds of 'bud' marijuana, methamphetamine, ecstacy, steroids, psilocybin (mushrooms), oxycondone, and weed oil were seized.Twelve warrants were executed in West Kelowna, Peachland and Westbank First Nations, with over 4000 plants being seized.

A firearm was also located and seized during one search.

"It is not uncommon to find weapons or booby-traps inside these grow operations for protection from rival criminals," says RCMP Sgt Ann Morrison, adding that they represent public safety concerns to the neighborhoods or communities in which they exist.

Morrison says the investigations included information and intelligence obtained through a variety of sources, including public, anonymous and RCMP observations.

"The Kelowna RCMP detachment encourages members of the community to continue to call in their suspicions of marihuana grow's in their area to their respective RCMP detachment or Crime Stoppers."

The details for each warrant , the date of warrant execution and the drugs seized is included below:
• Feb 17, 2011- 2000 block Boucherie Rd. Westbank - 2 plants, weed oil (small quantity), 195 grams (g) marihuana bud, 2 Adult Males arrested PTA - June 2 for Section 7(1) Production of a controlled substance; 4(1) Possession of a controlled substance - CDSA
• Feb 23, 2011 - 5900 block Hwy 97 S, Peachland 175 plants - 1 adult male arrested. PTA - Section 7(1); 5(2) CDSA.
• Feb 24, 2011 - residence at 2001 Hwy 97 S,Westbank - 64 plants - 1 adult male Arrested - PTA for May 26, 2011- Section 7(1); 5(2) CDSA
• March 1, 2011 - 3500 block Webber Rd ( Shed on property) ., West Kelowna - 119 plants, firearm - 1 Adult male Arrested - PTA for June 2, 2011- Section 7(1) & 5(2) CDSA, Section 86(2) CC for an unregistered firearm (sawed off shotgun).
• March 2, 2011 - 5100 block Robinson Pl., Peachland - 362 plants - Section 7(1); 5(2) CDSA - PTA June 2, 2011 - 2 males and 1 female .
• March 3, 2011 -1900 block Cornerstone Dr., West Kelowna - 164 plants, 10 lbs bud, meth (11 g), ecstasy (small amount), steroids (small amount) , psilocybin (small amount) - Section 7(1); 5(2) Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking; 4(1) CDSA - 2 adult males
• 6000 block Ellison Ave., Peachland (grow had been harvested) , 18.5 g bud Section 4(1) CDSA - Still under investigation
• March 10, 2011 - 1500 block Pinot Gris Dr.,West Kelowna 1116 plants, weed oil (10 g) , Section 326 CC Theft of Electricity ; Section 7(1) and 5(2) CDSA - 1 Adult male arrested - PTA May 30, 2011.
• March 11, 2011 - 4000 block Smith Way, Peachland 1208 plants, 1045 g bud, oxycodone x 30, psilocybin (small amount) , oil (small amount), steroids (4 vials), ecstasy (small amount)- Section 7(1); 5(2) CDSA - 3 Adults (2 male, 1 female)
• March 12, 2011 - 2800 block Lakeview Rd., West Kelowna (83 harvested), 17 plants- Section 7(1) CDSA, - Charges pending 1 male and 1 female.
• March 10, 2011 - 1000 block Aurora Heights, West Kelowna - 606 plants, 2 lbs bud, Electrical by-pass - Still under investigation
• March 14, 2011 - 1200 block Parkinson Rd., West Kelowna - 420 plants - Section , 326 CC Theft of Electricity ; Section 7(1) & 5(2) CDSA - 1 Adult male

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Health pot issue clouded
Kelowna Capital News - By Kathy Michaels - March 23, 2011

Members of Kelowna’s compassion club were gobsmacked by the idea local politicians wanted their input on problems surrounding medical marijuana growers, let alone that talks slated for next Monday could give rise to a committee dedicated to the issue.

“I’m so excited. I won’t be sleeping much this week—this is the first time they’ve engaged people in this manner, to come together and discuss this issue,” said a club member going by the name of “Bob K,” after a council meeting where the community impact of medical marijuana dispensaries was tabled.

It was at that meeting where the mayor said the issue would return to council’s agenda next week, requesting that members of the compassion club offer some ideas on how to deal with what’s increasingly being viewed as a health and safety issue.

“This is fabulous. I didn’t think they’d let us speak,” echoed Rob Callaway, the club’s research coordinator.

While the duo hadn’t expected to have their say, they headed to the morning council meeting to show support for medical marijuana growers and the process that allows ill Canadians to access or grow the drug legally.

Last Friday, they were made aware that council would be considering a letter from two Fraser Valley mayors requesting Kelowna’s support in ending that process.

“It has created situations whereto neighbourhoods have become unsafe, individual lives have been at risk and the overall cost to our local governments have risen,” read a letter penned by mayors of the City of Langley and the Township of Langley, where Kelowna’s support was requested.

To solve the problem, the pair called on Health Canada to cancel current licenses and that any medicinal marijuana would in the future be dispensed through licensed pharmacies by doctor’s prescriptions.

“As this is the practice for other controlled substances, such as methadone, we do not see why this cannot be done for medical marijuana,” the letter read. “We also urge that the marijuana is dispensed be grown at a government regulated facility.”

The solution by Langley is not the answer, said Callaway, adding that the township and city’s proposal to cut off licensing to individual growers isn’t even feasible.

“Despite wanting to phase out individual licenses in favour of pharmacies, Health Canada was forced by a Federal Court ruling to expand the individual license holder regulations.”

Until 2009, he said, a marijuana grower could produce cannabis for only one patient and receive no compensation for doing so. Now a producer can grow for two patients and be compensated for doing so.

“Considering that legal precedent, it is highly unlikely that the current right of individual medical users of cannabis to use and grow cannabis will be taken away,” he said.

Unfortunately, he conceded, growing does come with risks and those who are licenced face “fear of theft and violence” from both police and criminal organizations but that he said came down to prohibition—an issue Mayor Sharon Shepherd was quick to point out wouldn’t be changed in council chambers.

“There are legal, medicinal grow ops in the city and they’ve caused challenges with bylaw and law enforcement because we don’t know they’re legal,” Shepherd said. “At no time am I opposed to the idea of medical marijuana, and the issue of legalization will continue to talk place but that’s not the purpose of why we’re dealing with this.”

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A prescription for ‘legal regulation’
Vernon Morning Star - By Roger Knox - April 03, 2011

Retired doctor David Kennedy speaks about drugs at the Halina Centre Thursday.
Roger Knox/Morning Star

David Kennedy does not advocate alcohol and drug use.

What the retired Vernon doctor does advocate is learning how to better manage the use of psychoactive drugs.

“Many, many, many people are choosing to use them and that’s what we need to look at, and learn how to manage that,” said Kennedy, who gave an hour-long talk titled The Failed Drug War: A Dragon In our Living Rooms Thursday morning at the Halina Centre in front of a crowd of 40.

“I’d like to focus on the area of policy. Not necessarily the effects of drugs but the effects policy have on people who use.”

Kennedy, whose lengthy medical career included a keen interest in addictions and drug use, used the metaphor of a boy imagining a dragon in his house to cite how the war against drugs has failed.

The boy tells his mom there’s a dragon in the house and the mom denies it. Every time the boy sees the dragon and tells his mom, she denies it and the dragon gets bigger to the point the dragon is so big he’s running the show.

One night, dad comes home, sees the big dragon and says they have to do something about it.

“That’s the message,” said Kennedy.

“Once we start to say there’s a dragon there and we can manage it, it becomes more manageable.”

Kennedy said there are three types of psychoactive drug use: recreational, addictive and medical, and that people are going to use psychoactive substances such as marijuana, cocaine, alcohol and methamphetamine.

Addiction will never go away but it ought to be managed better than what is being done, he added.

Kennedy, who told the crowd he had never smoked marijuana or done any hard drugs, never smoked a cigarette and is a low-risk drinker, said that a prohibition on psychoactive drugs is an idea that would be the “worst of the worst.”

“Legal regulation, not legalization, I think is the best term to use,” he said.

“Legal regulation eases into the topic.”

Legal regulation of psychoactive drugs would mean there would be drug-specific controls in place, and there would a four-pillar-management style focusing on prevention, harm reduction, treatment and enforcement.

The government, said Kennedy, would be the legal regulation provider of the drugs. Under prohibition, it’s the criminal element who provides the drugs.

“There would have to be licensed drug specific regulation and a governmental regulatory agency,” said Kennedy.

Prohibition has failed in the United States, illustrated by the fact that America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, said Kennedy, with more than half the prison population locked up for drug offences.

Rather than spend money on law enforcement, court fees and prison expenditures, Kennedy stated people should be diverted to treatment programs and not be considered criminals under law.

He showed statistics from Portugal, where once drug prohibition on psychoactive drugs was rescinded, crime went down considerably.

Kennedy closed his talk by quoting from Tony Newman, a director with the U.S.-based Drug Policy Alliance, who states the world has to learn to live with drugs, something that’s been around for thousands of years.

“We need to educate people about the harms, and we need to offer compassion and treatment to those that have problems and leave in peace those who are not causing harm to others,” said Kennedy.

The presentation was sponsored by the Canadian Federation of University Women.

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.pdf icon January 13, 2011 Regional District of Central Okanagan Governance and Services Committee Meeting Agenda

.pdf icon Item 3.2 Social Development Program Presentation.pdf

Click link above for RDCO's Social Development Coordinator Christene Walsh, MSW presentation on homelessness, Kelowna B.C.'s Gospel Mission, various sobering centers in B.C., etc. and the Regional District of Central Okanagan Governance and Services Committee discussing shelters, methadone program, other social programs, not enough funding, etc.  This link gives you an overall picture of Social Development Christene Walsh, MSW role is in the Okanagan in her newly designed position.  Christene Walsh's former position was Drug Policy Coordinator in the Regional District of Central Okanagan, but her position was slightly modified to make her job much more enjoyable.

-------------------------------------------

Here is a small snippett found at the link above.

Social Development Coordinator (building on former Drug Policy Coordinator role):

The Social Development Coordinator [SDC] role, utilizing an urban health [community development] approach, acts as a
resource for not-for-profit and government organizations, the community at-large and the employer – Regional District of Central Okanagan. A specific focus is to assist organizations who provide harm reduction, prevention, treatment and enforcement services for persons in need. The target population may be chemically dependent, homeless [at risk], mentally and/or physically ill, criminal justice involved and/or compromised in other ways. The SDC promotes community health & wellness [safety] via assisting partnership building between existing services as well as to problem-solve, help strengthen programs as well as to encourage, facilitate and support the development of new initiatives geared to helping the target clientele and, our community at large.

-------------------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio January 13, 2011 audio of entire Governance and Services Committee meeting .mp3 (185 MB)

Windows Media File Icon January 13, 2011 audio of Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Presentation by RDCO's Drug Policy Coordinator - .wma (19.7 MB)

.pdf icon January 13, 2011 Regional District of Central Okanagan Governance and Services Committee Meeting Minutes

The minutes are not usually available on RDCO's website until after being adopted at the following meeting.  If the minutes are not posted here yet, you can check RDCO's website to see if they are published there yet.

-------------------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio January 13, 2011 audio of entire Governance and Services Committee meeting .mp3 (185 MB)

Windows Media File Icon January 13, 2011 audio of Governance and Services Committee meeting only about Presentation by RDCO's Drug Policy Coordinator - .wma (19.7 MB)

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Alleged B.C. drug-smuggling pilot loses appeal of extradition order
By KIM BOLAN, VANCOUVER SUN October 20, 2010

A B.C. pilot alleged to have flown hockey bags full of pot across the border for a drug gang has lost his appeal of an extradition order.

The B.C. Court of Appeal tossed out Henry C. Rosenau's appeal Wednesday, saying a Supreme Court judge did not err when he decided Rosenau should be surrendered to the United States to face charges.

"The Requesting State alleges that in 2004 and 2005 the appellant piloted a helicopter carrying hockey bags packed with marijuana that were suspended underneath the aircraft and flown from British Columbia across the border into the State of Washington, U.S.A.," Appeal Court Justice Daphne Smith summarized in her written ruling. "There, the hockey bags were dropped at prearranged landing zones and transferred, with the assistance of the accomplice, Kip John Whelpley, to a truck for distribution within the U.S.A."

Whelpley identified Rosenau as his accomplice to U.S. authorities who requested Rosenau's extradition. It was granted by the Canadian government on July 22, 2008 and upheld by the B.C. Supreme Court in 2009.

Rosenau argued on appeal that he was entitled to more of the U.S. government's evidence against him.

And he said it wasn't sufficient to rely on the testimony of a co-accused, given his interest in improving his own situation.

The appeal court laid out more of the evidence against Rosenau, saying Whelpley had travelled to the pilot's home in Armstrong, B.C. in early 2005 and "discussed the 2004 smuggling operations and acknowledged that he piloted the Robinson 44 helicopter referred to above during those trips."

"Furthermore, the appellant confirmed prior contracts with Whelpley by his knowledge of Whelpley’s Blackberry name (“Gilligan”). The appellant also recalled their previous discussions, including one where they had discussed the details of a smuggling trip which was cancelled because of fog. The appellant told Whelpley that he (Rosenau) kept Whelpley’s cash payments in his safe during the prior summer."

U.S. agents surveilled Whelpley and the pilot during a June 2005 run.

Rosenau was charged after a cross-border, multi-agency investigation dubbed Operation Frozen Timber targeting aircraft smuggling drugs into the U.S. A number of Canadians have gone to jail as a result of the probe.

Meanwhile, Joe Curry, another pilot linked to the United Nations gang, was surrendered to U.S. authorities after losing his extradition appeal.

He made his first appearance in a Spokane courtroom Oct. 14 and was remanded in custody.

Curry ran into trouble in 2007 when he crashed a plane in a Washington state farmer's field. As he left the scene, U.S. authorities found duffel bags full of ecstasy nearby.

U.S. agents searched the plane and found a for-sale sign with a B.C. number on it. They called and were told by the previous owner that he had sold the plane to Curry, a suspect in earlier cross-border drug runs.

Curry tried to enter the U.S. a few days later to retrieve his plane and was arrested.

kbolan "at" vancouversun.com

read The Real Scoop at vancouversun.com/bolan

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

------------------------------------------------------------------

Please contact the Minister of Justice for Canada and beg that Canadians not be extradited to the U.S. unless they commit murder, because Henry is my nieces uncle and his wife has cancer.  The Canadian Government is hurting my nieces aunt just as much if not more than Henry.

http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/contact.html

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Pot activist smokes joint in House of Commons
By: CTV.ca News Staff - Monday Oct. 4, 2010

Samuel Mellace holds up the marijuana joint he smoked in the House of Commons during Question Period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday October 4, 2010. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Samuel Mellace holds up the marijuana joint he smoked in the House of Commons during Question Period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday October 4, 2010.

The faint whiff of marijuana smoke wafted through the air of the House of Commons Monday when a pot activist lit up a joint as Parliamentarians traded barbs during Question Period.

Samuel Mellace took "seven or eight" tokes from his spliff before a security officer "came over and told me to put it out." A glassy-eyed Mellace later told reporters that he left the House of his own volition and "was not escorted off the property."

Mellace lit up in the House's public gallery to protest the fact that Canada's Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) don't include exemptions for alternatives to smoked marijuana, such as creams or food product like butter.

Mellace is among 5,000 Canadians who have permission from the federal government to use medical marijuana. In his case, Mellace smokes to alleviate symptoms from previous leukemia treatments and chronic pain from injuries he suffered in a car accident.

Mellace's wife suffers from lung cancer and cannot smoke, and gets relief by using marijuana in other forms.

But Mellace says despite being an authorized grower for both himself and his wife, the MMAR do not protect him unless they light up.

"My wife can't smoke her medication because she has lung cancer, so I make the butter and smoothies," Mellace said in a news release issued prior to his stunt. "It's ridiculous to think that I could go to jail for easing my wife's suffering."

Mellace said he was also trying to draw attention to delays in processing medical marijuana applications. He said his wife had to wait 10 months for her authorization renewal, despite submitting her paperwork eight weeks prior to the expiration of her previous permit.

Mellace said he could not give his wife medical marijuana without facing a jail term because her authorization had expired.

There was no immediate reaction from the government or opposition MPs to the stunt.

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Pot prohibition rally Saturday
Castanet.net - by Daniel Hayduk - Story: 57167 - Oct 2, 2010

On October 2, protesters will gather across Canada in opposition of Bill S10.

Local rally organizer Robert Nisbet, with the Kelowna Cannabis Knowledge Coalition, emphasizes that he is not pro-drug, but anti-prohibition.

"The more we keep it prohibited, the more the black market grows. B.C. bud goes pound for pound with cocaine, that is not right," says Nisbet.

"Alcohol causes so many problems in society and the prohibition caused more problems. Look at all the harm the ban on drugs has caused in Mexico."

If marijuana were legalized and properly regulated, a viable industry could be established, says Nisbet.

A strictly regulated industry with proper checks and balances would take the mystery out of using marijuana he says.

"Lets make it boring."

Enforcing Bill S10 would cost the taxpayer billions he says.

"Harper just wants to appear tough on crime. In a time of fiscal responsibility Harper wants to build more jails."

The bill aims to provide minimum penalties for what it calls serious drug offences.

Under the proposed law, anyone caught producing more than six marijuana plants will face a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in prison.

Currently, there are no mandatory minimum marijuana penalties under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

The rally takes place at 2:30 p.m. this Saturday at MP Ron Cannan's office, 1835 Gordon Drive.


Link: Legislative Summary of Bill S-10
Link: Why Prohibition website

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Mandatory jail time for pot producers?
Castanet.net - by Daniel Hayduk - Story: 57272 - Oct 3, 2010

A small group of protesters gathered in front of MP Ron Cannan's Kelowna office Saturday afternoon in opposition of Bill S10.

The bill aims to provide minimum penalties for what it calls serious drug offences.

Under the proposed law, anyone caught producing more than six marijuana plants will face a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in prison.

John Pichette of Penticton, who uses marijuana medicinally, took the opportunity to roll a joint and speak out against the bill.

"Some drugs are jail worthy, but going to to jail for a non-violent crime -- I don't think it's right," says Pichette.

Local rally organizer Robert Nisbet, with the Kelowna Cannabis Knowledge Coalition, says he is encouraged by the turnout.

"I think it is a good start, it is getting a little attention," says Nisbet.

Nisbet emphasizes that he is not pro-drug, but anti-prohibition.

"The more we keep it prohibited, the more the black market grows. B.C. bud goes pound for pound with cocaine, that is not right. Look at all the harm the ban on drugs has caused in Mexico."

If marijuana were legalized and properly regulated, a viable industry could be established, says Nisbet.

A strictly regulated industry with proper checks and balances would take the mystery out of using marijuana he says.

"Lets make it boring."

Enforcing Bill S10 would cost the taxpayer billions he says.

"Harper just wants to appear tough on crime. In a time of fiscal responsibility Harper wants to build more jails."

Currently, there are no mandatory minimum marijuana penalties under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

Blue Divider Line

Neighbour reports break-in and finds marijuana grow op
Kelowna Capital News - August 27, 2010

A neighbour who spotted two men trying to break into a Beach Avenue home was surprised to discover a marijuana growing operation in the home, police say.

Around 5:15 a.m., on Friday a man called police to report he had seen two men breaking a side door and kicking in a door to the home in the 300-block of Beach Avenue.

“The culprits hightailed it when they saw the neighbour on the phone to police,” said Const. Steve Holmes.

The neighbour went into the vacant home after the break in and found a number of marijuana plants growing in the basement, added Holmes.

Police seized almost 3,300 small marijuana plants, called clones.

During their investigation, police learned the home’s renters had moved out over a week ago and say that no charges are being contemplated as no one was living in the home at the time of the discovery.

Meanwhile, a 63-year-old woman is facing recommended drug charges after police executed a search warrant at a home in the 700-block of Crozier Avenue.

“Upon entry, police located a sophisticated marijuana grow operation, with almost 1,100 small marihuana plants being seized,” said Holmes. “Along with the marijuana plants police also discovered a hydro bypass and found that the main gas line into the residence had been tampered with.”

The woman was arrested at the home and faces recommended charges of production of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking and theft of electricity.

She has been released on a promise to appear in court at the end of November.

cwierda "at" kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

B & E leads to discovery of grow op
by Castanet Staff - Story: 56592 - Aug 27, 2010

What started as a simple break and enter turned into the discovery of a marijuana grow operation.

Police say a man contacted them just after 5 a.m. Friday after witnessing two men break into his neighbours vacant home on Beach Avenue.

The witness says he saw the men break a side window then kick open the front door.

"The culprits hightailed it when they saw the neighbour on the phone with police," says Cst. Steve Holmes.

"The man went into the residence and was surprised to find a large number of marijuana plants growing in the basement."

Holmes says police seized almost 3300 marijuana plants called clones from the home.

"Police were advised that there had been renters inside the home, but they had moved out over a week ago. No charges are being contemplated as no one was living in the residence at the time of the discovery."

Meantime, police arrested a 63-year-old Kelowna woman Thursday in connection with a marijuana grow operation in the 700 block of Crozier Avenue.

Holmes says police seized nearly 1,100 small plants from the home. They also discovered a hydro bypass and found that the main gas line into the residence had been tampered with.

Charges of production of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for the purposes of trafficking as well as theft of electricity, will be recommended.

She was released on a Promise to Appear in Court at the end of November.

Blue Divider Line

Bears and crocodiles among wild ways pot-growers protect product
Vancouver Sun - By Douglas Quan, Postmedia News August 19, 2010

RCMP in Surrey B.C. discovered a marijuana grow op hidden behind an industrial-quality door obscured by a bookshelf in a raid in June 2009.Photograph by: RCMP, Photo Handout.

The recent discovery of several wild bears near a marijuana grow-operation in British Columbia is just one of many examples of the extraordinary lengths people will sometimes go to protect their pot, police across the country say.

While no one on Thursday could recall another instance involving bears, there was a case several years ago involving a crocodile. In 2003, drug officers raided a home in Scarborough, Ont., and found 164 plants growing around a concrete-lined oval pond in the basement.

It turned out a two-metre-long croc was swimming in the pond's murky water.

Police discovered tanks of fish and six cages of rats — apparently food for the scaly reptile.

Pot-farm caretakers not inclined to use wild animals or armed guards have been known to devise elaborate booby traps designed to thwart police and ward off pot-plant thieves.

"Some of these setups are done to a professional level," said Sgt. Chan Dara, national co-ordinator of the RCMP's marijuana-enforcement program.

Investigators, he said, have come across trip wires rigged to fire rifles or shot guns, even door knobs designed to give intruders an electric jolt.

Det. Sgt. Mark Dennis of the Ontario Provincial Police drug-enforcement unit said some outdoor grow-operations are surrounded by fishing lines with sharp hooks designed to catch you in the face or wooden boards on the ground with nails protruding from them.

Just last year, an officer got caught in a bear trap. While he wasn't seriously hurt, he had to be carried away by fellow officers, Dennis said.

Criminals will also go to great lengths to conceal their grow-ops.

Dennis said investigators once discovered a grow-op located underneath the detached garage of a residence. The entrance to the basement was concealed by a fake staircase that lifted up hydraulically with the flip of a toggle switch.

In Chilliwack, B.C., last year, RCMP discovered an underground bunker with more than 11,000 pot plants. A Quonset hut was built atop the bunker to give "the illusion of a legitimate out building on the property," police said.

The bunker was also equipped with booby traps rigged to shoot bear spray.

And in Surrey, B.C., last year, police discovered a residential basement grow-op located behind an industrial-quality door. The door was hidden behind a bookshelf that opened partially on a hinge "much like one typically associated with an old English manor house," police said.

But none of these cases has garnered as much attention as the case of the pot-protecting bears.

RCMP announced this week that officers dismantling an outdoor grow up in the Christina Lake area of B.C. were confronted by 10 docile black bears.

Police said it appeared to them that residents had fed the bears to encourage them to keep coming back to the property to essentially serve as guards for the plants.

"Absurd and surreal," RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said Thursday.

Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Blue Divider Line

Pot gardener gets a warning
by Castanet Staff - Story: 56209 - Aug 9, 2010

A 48-year-old Vernon man got off with just a warning after admitting he was growing pot in his garden.

RCMP in Vernon say they were called to a home in the 15400 block of Kalamalka Road Sunday after receiving complaints that a person was growing marijuana in his garden.

"Police attended and spoke to the gardener who admitted to police that he had 60 plants growing in the backyard," says RCMP spokesman, Gord Molendyk.

"He then cooperated with the police and assisted them in cutting them down. The plants were seized for destruction."

Molendyk says this time, the man got off with just a warning.

Blue Divider Line

Stockwell is nice guy, not great speaker

To the editor:

Stockwell recently announced $9 billion for new prisons during one of the largest deficits in Canadian history. Where the economic argument alone is enough to raise concerns about Mr. Day, the fact that Canada’s crime rate has dropped year after year only confirms those worries.

Stockwell Day is a nice guy, but he’s not the smartest. He may have best intentions, but they often are directed the wrong way, and in this case $9 billion the wrong way.

In response to criticism that the government shouldn’t be spending so much money on new prisons when the crime rate has been consistently decreasing, Stockwell Day said the prisons were needed because of increases in unreported crime.

Mr. Day actually said prisons were needed because there were increases in unreported crime, the same kind of unreported crime that no one knows happened and that no one gets caught.

How is Stockwell Day going to arrest and convict people who have been committing crimes that are unreported?

I am concerned that the Canadian government is spending billions of dollars on prisons in the middle of one of the largest deficits in history especially when they aren’t needed, but I’m also concerned that Stockwell Day still gets to speak.

Scott Ross

Blue Divider Line

B.C.'s economic boost from marijuana in jeopardy
The Vancouver Sun - By Don Cayo 8 Aug 2010

If Californians vote to legalize marijuana in a referendum this fall, it could be a stunning blow to the B.C. economy, writes my Postmedia News colleague Douglas Quan in an insightful report on the how political developments affect the illegal industry.

It would mean, say several experts he talked to, lower prices for home-grown pot in a state that has long been a major market for B.C. Bud.

Quan and his sources don't try to quantify the value of the marijuana industry -- he says it's at least $32 billion, and leaves it at that.

I know just how difficult it is to be more precise. Six years ago, as part of a major Vancouver Sun series on crime, I found numbers all over the map. Published estimates of the number of grow-ops in the province ranged from 2,000 to 20,000 and the value of what they produce from $1.8 billion on a Vancouver police department website to $7 billion in Forbes magazine. In other words, from 1.5 to 6 per cent of the province's GDP at the time.

Click here to read Quan's story it says .... but we posted Quan's story here below

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A budding menace
The Vancouver Sun - By Douglas Quan, Postmedia News August 7, 2010

Marijuana legalization in California could hurt Canada's economy, experts say

A looming referendum in California on whether to legalize marijuana has fuelled a debate among bloggers and pundits over this question: Could legalization in the United States cripple the Canadian economy?

In a column on the Guardian's website this week, B.C. writer Douglas Haddow writes that a move to legalization would be "devastating to the Canadian economy, halting the flow of billions of dollars from the U.S. into Canada."

B.C. marijuana activist Marc Emery -- the self-styled "Prince of Pot" who is awaiting sentencing in the U.S. for distributing cannabis seeds -- recently told a Vancouver indie website that "the homegrown market will evaporate."

Are they just blowing smoke? Not necessarily, some academics say.

Marijuana production generates at least $3 billion annually in B.C. alone -- due, in large part, to heavy demand from potheads south of the border, said Darryl Plecas, a criminology professor at Abbotsford's University of the Fraser Valley.

Plecas estimated that about 70 per cent of the marijuana grown in B.C. is sent to the U.S. and much of it goes to California.

"[Producers] are probably frantically looking where they can ship it to" besides California, he said.

Eugene Oscapella, a criminology lecturer at the University of Ottawa and founding member of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, said there is no doubt that if California legalizes marijuana, producers there will be able to sell the product more cheaply -- thus making it difficult for producers here to compete and driving some out of business.

"Increased availability for a lesser price in that country will have an effect on suppliers in Canada," he said.

Of particular concern, he said, are the mom-and-pop producers in rural parts of B.C. who turned to marijuana as a way to make ends meet after the forest industry declined.

Other observers, however, are more circumspect about how crippling legalization would be for Canadian producers, pointing out that "B. C. Bud" still enjoys a reputation in many circles as "the Rolls-Royce" of marijuana and that there are many other U.S. states -- besides California -- that covet Canadian-grown marijuana.

Also, Mexico, which exports far more pot to California than Canada does, would probably be stung a lot harder, they say.

Even as the Canadian dollar has appreciated -- making Canadian-grown marijuana more expensive for Americans to buy -- the industry has continued to thrive, said Stephen Easton, a professor of economics at Simon Fraser University and a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

"It's a very resilient industry and very adaptive," he said.

Chuck Doucette, a retired RCMP staff-sergeant who specialized in drug enforcement, adds the black-market exchange of Canadian marijuana for U.S. cash and cocaine is so "thoroughly entrenched" that it is unlikely that those lines will disappear overnight.

The California marijuana initiative is headed to a vote in November. If it passes, it likely will go through a series of court challenges, experts say.

An Angus Reid poll earlier this year showed that 53 per cent of Canadians favour legalizing marijuana -- regulating and taxing it like alcohol and tobacco.

Supporters say they hope passage of the initiative in California will create a domino effect that leads to more lax pot laws in other parts of the U.S. and in Canada.

In addition to raising huge amounts of tax revenue, legalization would severely undercut organized crime groups and free up police resources to tackle more serious crimes, they say.

Marijuana and cocaine are consistently reported to be the illicit drugs most frequently trafficked by organized crime groups, according to annual RCMP reports assessing the drug situation in Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government has repeatedly said it has no intention of decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana.

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Blue Divider Line

CHUCK DOUCETTE - FLASHBACK TO THE 90's

Over 10 years ago now Chuck Doucette a retired RCMP staff-sergeant who specialized in drug enforcement (mentioned in the article above) was quoted as saying in the Vancouver Province that marijuana smokers are murderers and when a complaint was filed with the police complaints commission the person that made the complaint just kept getting letters back every few months saying the Police Complaints Commission are looking into it.  But nothing ever became of the complaint mostly due to the lack of adequate response over 4 years and partly due to the fact that the person moved.  Here is what a couple people said about Chuck Doucette calling marijuana smokers murderer's includes Marc Emery the Prince of Pot.

Blue Divider Line

BC: Pitt Meadows Considers Ban On Medical Marijuana Plants

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v10/n569/a09.html
Newshawk: CMAP http://www.mapinc.org/cmap
Votes: 0
Webpage: http://mapinc.org/url/rZEm4Ssd
Pubdate: Mon, 19 Jul 2010
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 The Vancouver Sun
Contact: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/letters.html
Website: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/477
Author: Jes Abeita


PITT MEADOWS CONSIDERS BAN ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA PLANTS

Officials claim legal growing operations expose residents to a higher risk of fires

Pitt Meadows is considering a change to zoning bylaws that would ban medical marijuana production in the municipality.

Individuals who hold the proper permit from Heath Canada can grow marijuana for medical consumption in Pitt Meadows and across Canada.

Patients can obtain a permit from Health Canada allowing them to possess marijuana to alleviate symptoms associated with cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, severe arthritis and spinal cord injuries and disease.

A separate permit, also issued by Health Canada, is required to grow the drug.

A grower's permit can be held by the patient or a person selected by the patient to provide the drug.

Although the federal government allows production of medical marijuana, advocates of medical marijuana have been in a tug of war with municipalities that claim production of the drug poses a significant safety hazard for residents.

Medical marijuana advocates are calling the proposed zoning amendment by Pitt Meadows banning legal marijuana production in the municipality immoral and reprehensible.

"If I sound upset, it's because I am," said Kirk Tousaw, executive director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation.

Tousaw is also a lawyer who has represented a number of compassion clubs -- establishments where patients can purchase marijuana -- and marijuana permit-holders in his practice.

The Pitt Meadows bylaw amendment would ban all marijuana production, including production by individuals holding permits from Health Canada allowing them to grow and harvest the plant for medicinal purposes. The proposed amendment makes no mention of possible penalties.

Pitt Meadows officials contend they are trying to do what they can to protect their residents from fire danger and drug trafficking.

Calling the permitted marijuana production sites, "fires waiting to happen," Mayor Don MacLean said many "so-called legal grow ops are not operating within the spirit of the law."

MacLean pointed to a bust at a permitted production facility in Maple Ridge. The facility had exceeded the number of plants allowed by their permit by more than 1,500 plants.

"Sounds like an excuse to me," Tousaw said about the mayor's concerns.

If permit holders who exceed the number of plants they are allowed are subject to law enforcement, "it has nothing to do with health or safety," he said.

The Pitt Meadows Fire Department has not had to respond to a fire at a permitted marijuana production facility so far, according to fire chief Don Jolley.

"We are, however, concerned that the existence of permitted operations are not subject to rigorous inspections for fire and building code and land-use compliance and as such may have very similar hazards related to life safety and fire as illegal operations," he said in an e-mail to The Sun.


The department has responded to multiple fires at illegal marijuana production sites, including two large fires in the past year, according to Jolley.

Fire concerns could be easily dealt with if municipalities would work with permit-holders instead of subjecting them to further stigmatization, Tousaw said.

Across the Fraser River from Pitt Meadows, the City of Surrey lost a court battle earlier this year over whether the city could use fire-safety inspections to target and search suspected illegal growing operations.

MacLean also wants the city and the local RCMP to be told the location of licensed marijuana production facilities within the municipality.

Health Canada only provides information on growers to police engaged in an investigation so police may determine if a suspected growing operation is a permitted production facility.

Providing permit-holder information to law enforcement as a matter-of-course would be a bad idea, said Tousaw, adding that the "circus and sideshow" caused by the RCMP showing up at a permitted production facility would draw the attention of criminals, putting law-biding permit-holders at risk.

"The ill have privacy rights, they don't lose their privacy rights because they got ill," he added.

The amendment is to be considered by Pitt Meadows council Tuesday at 7 p.m.

What are building permits for ... does council not have the power to make a bylaw about electrical inspections?

This is totally irresponsible of Pitt Meadows Council if they pass this amendment.

Blue Divider Line

Marijuana plantations OK in Oakland
CBC News - The Associated Press - Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Four production operations to be licensed and taxed.

Oakland has moved closer to becoming the first city in the United States to authorize wholesale pot cultivation.

A computer image of a marijuana growing operation envisioned by Gropech, one of the companies interested in running a city-licensed marijuana plantation in Oakland, Calif. (Gropech/Associated Press)The California city's council voted 5-2 with one abstention late Tuesday to license four operations where marijuana would be grown, packaged and processed.

The vote came after more than two hours of public comment, with speakers divided between those who opposed the measure —largely on the grounds that it could put small medical marijuana growers out of business — and those who said it would generate millions of dollars in taxes and sales, and would create hundreds of jobs.

The plantations would not be limited in size — one potential applicant for a licence intends to produce over 9,525 kilograms of pot a year — but they would be heavily taxed and regulated.

Those vying for one of the four licences would have to pay $211,000 US in annual permit fees, carry $2 million worth of liability insurance and be prepared to devote up to eight per cent of gross sales to city taxes.

High hopes
'Do you want to be the Silicon Valley of cannabis?'
—Jeff Wilcox, proposing a commercial grow-op

Proponents of the measure touted the possibility of Oakland becoming the U.S. cannabis capital, especially if California voters approve the legalization of recreational marijuana in November.

"Do you want to be the Silicon Valley of cannabis?" said Jeff Wilcox, a local businessman who proposes to build AgraMed, a three-hectare plant with a bakery, a lab and 9,300 square metres of cultivation space.

But Stephen DeAngelo, executive director of Harborside Health Center, the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the world, said small growers were terrified that the ordinance would mean the end of their livelihoods.

One of the co-sponsors of the council initiative, Rebecca Kaplan, said it would not take effect until January, allowing time to come up with a plan for medium-sized growers.

Councilwoman Nancy Nadel said she worried about the quality of the product, wanted environmental protections and questioned why council was voting on the measure now if it wasn't going to take effect until January.

The measure will go before council members one more time for a final vote, but the outcome isn't expected to change.

Blue Divider Line

CN BC: Surrey Watching Nearby Ban On Medical Marijuana Grow-Ops

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v10/n573/a08.html
Newshawk: Herb
Pubdate: Wed, 21 Jul 2010
Source: Surrey Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 Surrey Leader
Contact: newsroom "at" surreyleader.com
Website: http://www.surreyleader.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1236
Author: Kevin Diakiw

SURREY WATCHING NEARBY BAN ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA GROW-OPS

Surrey is watching closely as the City of Pitt Meadows prepares to ban people from growing medical marijuana in that municipality.

Health Canada allows the medicinal use of marijuana for several conditions, including severe pain or muscle spasms from multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury or disease, pain or nausea from cancer or HIV and seizures from epilepsy.

Tonight ( Tuesday ), Pitt Meadows will hold a public hearing on a bylaw amendment that would ban the growing of marijuana for medical purposes.

It would become the first city in Canada to disallow the federally sanctioned activity.

Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis said the Pitt Meadows move is quite bold, and noted this city has existing bylaws that preclude growers from conducting business in urban areas.

Because it's a horticultural use, and it is for profit, medical grows are not allowed in a residential setting, he said.

Garis has long said the medical grows are often wired incorrectly and pose a high risk of causing a structure fire. He notes that they are not permitted, regulated or deemed safe by a city inspector.

While Health Canada stipulates permits are required, federal health minister Leona Aglukkaq wrote in a letter to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in April: "Health Canada does not, however, verify compliance with these requirements either before or after licensing." She also referred to a "reform exercise" being undertaken.

Health Canada has declined city requests for the locations of the authorized growers for privacy reasons. Garis said he's also been unable to find out how many there are.

About 2,800 production licences have been issued to medical marijuana growers in Canada.

Garis said of the six Lower Mainland municipalities participating in a new Electrical Fire and Safety Initiative, there have been 50 medical grow-ops found.

Garis said it's possible Surrey could introduce a similar bylaw to that of Pitt Meadows, depending on how it stands up to legal challenges.

Surrey is also watching closely to see what the federal government does with its "reform exercise."

Studies have shown that dwellings with marijuana grow operations are 24 times more likely to catch fire.

Blue Divider Line

Marijuana prohibition hasn’t worked
Kelowna Capital News - July 13, 2010

To the editor:

Kelowna RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon recently held a press conference in which he expressed frustration with the sentencing of people involved in marijuana production operations (Kelowna Captial News, June 8).

The timing of this media briefing was interesting; legislation regarding mandatory minimum sentences for grow-ops is currently before Parliament.

Like Supt. McKinnon, I am a police officer in British Columbia. I express my views on drug policy while off-duty and out of uniform by volunteering with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

LEAP is a group of current and former criminal justice professionals who understand that drug prohibition is a public policy failure.

We don’t support or encourage drug abuse, nor breaking the law. We simply believe that regulating and controlling drugs would be more ethical and less harmful than prohibition.


While it is easy to criticize the judiciary—judges are professionally bound to ignore such comments—it would be more difficult for a senior police executive to explain the benefits of prohibition.

What is so wonderful about this policy that justifies the black market violence and the criminalization of millions of Canadians?

David Bratzer,
Victoria

Blue Divider Line

Marijuana grow ops won’t escape from municipal clutches
Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - June 11, 2010

A couple of absentee homeowners risk losing their houses in West Kelowna if they don’t deal with claims that their properties were once used as marijuana grow operations.

Coun. Gord Milsom said that by placing notices on title this week at 1605 McNaughton Rd. and 2470 Boucherie Rd., council has sent a strong message that grow ops are not acceptable in West Kelowna.

“They’ll be found and they will be shut down,” Milsom stated.

The RCMP said officers raided 1605 McNaughton Road on March 7 and 2470 Boucherie Road on March 16, uncovering substantial grow operations.

Regulatory services director Dave Slobodan said that once police snapped photos of the set ups and removed plants and growing equipment, his building inspectors went in and shut down the houses.

Do not occupy signs will remain on both properties, warning of health and safety hazards, until the houses are cleaned up, he explained.

Slobodan said the registered homeowner at 1605 McNaughton was reached once and staff advised Jessica Trautman that remedial work would need to be done on her home.

However, Trautman told staff she would rather demolish the dwelling than carry out the works required for re-occupancy, Slobodan said in his report to council.

Since then the municipality has been unable to reach Trautman again.

The notice that council has placed on the home’s title warns any future buyer of all the work must be done to make the house safe again prior to occupancy, Slobodan said.

Meanwhile, Slobodan mentioned the municipality has also been unable to reach Alfons Schoenherr, the registered owner of 2470 Boucherie Rd.

Letters went out on March 17, April 13, April 28 and May 18 advising him the house had been used for a grow operation, that an inspection had been done, clean up was required and that fees were owing for the inspection.

Slobodan said the municipality must learn to keep patient in these situations because the homeowners almost always come forward, eventually.

“In my years of experience I haven’t experienced a property owner that has not come and rectified their issues,” said Slobodan. “They procrastinate for a period of time and then it comes time to sell the house because they can’t fix it themselves or they don’t have the money to fix it.”

Slobodan explained the homeowners would eventually grasp the concept that they could lose their homes if they don’t come forward.

“It is a large investment for them. A lot of these houses are very expensive.”

Slobodan said if and when either homeowner comes forward, he would come back to council with an update.

At this point, both homeowners owe $2,500 each for the initial site inspection on their properties, plus $250 each for the registration of the notices on title.

For now, the bill will be added to the homeowner’s property taxes.

If taxes go unpaid for three years, the municipality will sell the houses to get what it’s owed.

jluciw "at" kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

High yield pot plants seized
Castanet.net - by RCMP - Story: 55489 - Jun 30, 2010

Some unusually high yielding pot plants have been seized by RCMP in the Central Okanagan.

Kelowna RCMP executed a search warrant in the 2100 block of Diamond Road on Tuesday.

Constable Steve Holmes says once inside, police located an established, sophisticated, marijuana grow op, where almost 40 plants were found.

“These marijuana plants were unusually high yield plants that would have produced nearly four times the amount of marijuana bud than that of an average marijuana plant,” says Holmes.

He says during the search a 42-year-old man, associated to the residence, attended the property and was promptly arrested and taken into custody.

“He was released on a promise to appear in court and is facing charges of cultivation and possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.”

Blue Divider Line

Liquid Zoo licence cancelled
Castanet.net - by RCMP - Story: 55237 - Jun 18, 2010

As of April 30, the liquor licence, belonging to the Liquid Zoo Show Lounge Bar and Grill, which was suspended in October of 2009 has now been canceled, and the establishment will no longer be licenced to operate.

The Liquor Control and Licencing Branch (LCLB) has now concluded its involvement into the licencing investigation, that stemmed from a drug trafficking search warrant and improper business practices.

The licence was canceled primarily because the Liquid Zoo failed to meet the requirements necessary to maintain its liquor licence. This determination was made as a result of a lengthy, fit and proper investigation by the Liquor Control and Licencing Branch.

The Entertainment District Enforcement Team consisting of Local Government, police, the LCLB and the local late night industry, is committed to ensuring that Licencing standards are adhered to, as it impacts the safety of those patronizing the entertainment establishments.

Blue Divider Line

Liquid Zoo owner speaks out
Castanet.net - by Kelly Hayes - Story: 50638 Nov 7, 2009

The co-owner of the Liquid Zoo in Kelowna says he's the victim of guilt by association.

The B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) has yanked the nightclub's liquor license after determining that the establishment is linked to organized crime under a policy implemented in 2005 that defines who is "fit and proper" to hold a liquor license.

One of the owners of the Lawrence Avenue building is East End Hells Angel, Damiano Dipopolo.

Dipopolo is friends with Tony Raffele.

Raffele owns part of the building and runs the club with another partner.

He says that he's not a member of the Hells Angels.

"The only association I have with Dipopolo is that we grew up together. I've got my own way of life. We invested in that building five years ago and that's the problem with the Liquor Board. It's trying to say that I'm associated with the Hells Angels."

Despite the implied links to the Hells Angels, Raffele insist he's not an outlaw biker.

"I don't hang around with the Hells Angels. I barely hang out with Mr. Dipopolo. He's a business partner in one real estate investment. That's it."

Raffele says his club has never run into trouble with the LCLB and that he first became aware that his club was the focus of a Liquor Board investigation last July. He adds that he's always cooperated with the authorities.

"I've been running that club for 4.5 years with not one violation with the Liquor Board. I have a security camera system there that I let the RCMP use. We work with the RCMP to keep the idiots out of the club."

And he wonders why the authorities have decided to act now.

"They came to us 4.5 years ago with the same thing. I disputed it and never heard back from them."

Raffele, who claims to have three immediate family members on the Vancouver Police Force, says he's in the process of buying out Dipopolo's share in the building.

"I'm actually in the process of buying him out due to the headaches its caused. He will no longer be a landlord there. It could be the solution."

He adds that the real victims of the LCLB's decision are the 30-plus employees who have been laid-off because of the closure.

The LCLB says the Liquid Zoo's liquor license has been temporarily reverted back to the original licensees who have two weeks to prove they own or lease the building.

Blue Divider Line

EXAMPLE OF A MUNICIPALITY RAPING ITS RESIDENTS!

DWK puts Title Notice on two grow-ops
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 55041 - Jun 9, 2010

The District of West Kelowna has slapped a Title Notice on two homes within the municipality recently shut down after marijuana grow operations were discovered inside.

Under the municipalities Safe Premises Bylaw, the homes were inspected by by a West Kelowna building inspector and found to be unsafe to occupy.

Several attempts to contact the owners over the past three months have been unsuccessful, allowing the municipality to ask for the Title Notice.

The notices mean the owners are not able to sell the prospective properties without informing the buyer of the notice on title.

Director of Building and Regulator Services, Dave Sloboden, says the homes cannot be inhabited again until such time as health and safety issues, which have arisen as a result of the grow-ops, have been remedied.

The homes must be inspected before they can be occupied again.

Each home will be inspected at least three times at a cost of $2,500 per inspection. The cost of inspections are picked up by the owner.

Sloboden says that while the municipality does not have the right to enter a home to remediate the damage, it can ensure the property is maintained so it does not become an eyesore.

In that case, the bill is added to the property taxes.

He says the municipality is covered in respect to recovering fees owed to it.

"If the fees are not paid they go on the taxes and if the taxes are not paid they go through the process through finance to collect those," says Sloboden.

"At the end of the day the municipality is protected. We will get those funds and resolutions will be dealt with on these particular properties."

Sloboden says he has yet to see a case where a property owner did not eventually make the necessary repairs and improvements and pay any outstanding fees.

"Normally what we see is the owners coming back to us and defining what they need to clean this up because it is a large investment for them. A lot of these houses are very expensive."

Earlier this year, the municipality slapped a Title Notice on a home at 2607 Guidi Road.

Blue Divider Line

McKinnon wants to see pot growers nailed in the pocketbook
Kelowna Capital News - By Cheryl Wierda - June 08, 2010

Kelowna’s top cop is expressing frustration over what he perceives as short sentences handed down to local pot growers.

Supt. Bill McKinnon ordered a review of court dispositions in 2008 and 2009 for people charged with production of a controlled substance and found that of the 111 people in 81 grow operations whose court case has finished, 44 were found guilty. Ten of those 44 people were sentenced to jail time.

“From a police perspective, I don’t think that’s enough,” McKinnon said Monday. “There has to be a bigger consequence.”

According to the research, the longest sentence was 15 months in jail—for a person who was sentenced to nine months in jail earlier in the time period.

Three of the 10 people had no previous convictions, and two were given jail sentences of 90 days while the other was sentenced to 12 months.

Twenty nine people were handed conditional sentences, meaning they could be served at home. (They would serve the remainder of their sentence in jail if they breached the conditions they were to follow). Six were handed probation.

Forfeitures were ordered for 38 of the 44 people—primarily caretakers of grow operations—that have been found guilty and sentenced, with one case resulting in a home being seized. “I’d like to see more homes seized,” said McKinnon. “You have to hit them in the pocketbook.”

The court records also show that a total of 48 cases were stayed, 12 people were acquitted and charges were dismissed against six people. McKinnon said he is trying to provide the community with the facts in presenting the information, and was not using the press conference to lobby for change, although he feels more lengthy periods of incarceration are needed to deter pot growers. He also acknowledges local judges have a difficult job, noting they are held to account for the sentences they hand out by the appeal court.

Still, McKinnon feels it is worth going after grow operations, “when you (consider) all the other dangers to the public, I really believe it is.”

He cites poisonous fumes, fires, electrocution, violence, increased crime, booby traps, higher utility costs, environmental damage and hazards to children as some dangers of grow operations.

-------------------------------------------

David Bratzer is a police officer in British Columbia. He also manages the blog for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

http://copssaylegalize.blogspot.com/

-------------------------------------------

The smell of money
Castanet.net - by Chuck Poulsen - Story: 54913 - Jun 6, 2010

“It’s the smell of money,” former Premier WAC Bennett used to say when liberals complained about the stink of pulp mills.

Now, 40 years later, the smell of money from marijuana smoke may be on the way to B.C. from the liberals in California, where voters will decide whether to legalize cannabis.

Organizers are calling it a watershed opportunity that would be the beginning of the end of prohibition in both the U.S. and Canada. They could be right. Once the first domino falls, politicians in every state and every province in Canada won’t want to be left out of the revenue stream.

Consider how politicians have fallen for tax money from the once-evils of gambling. I rest my case.

The marijuana vote in California has little to do with ideology. It’s about a state that is otherwise in terminal debt, hoping to toke its way out of trouble.

There is huge wealth in the production of this relatively tame drug that is being lost to gangs, their turf crimes and needless policing, judicial and prison costs. In B.C., marijuana exports have outstripped the value of the entire lumber industry that WAC so loved. The taxpayer doesn’t get a whiff of the profits.

Under the California initiative, possession of an ounce or less would be legal for anyone over 21. Simple possession charges are seldom laid in B.C. anymore but here is where the California initiative takes a bold step in cutting out the criminal element and cutting in the taxpayer: people can grow marijuana for their own use and taxable retail sales would be allowed.

Advocates say the legalization would raise $1.4 billion.

“We need the tax money,” said Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University, a trade school for marijuana growers in Oakland. “Second, we need the tax savings on police and law enforcement, and have that law enforcement directed towards real crime.”

Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, writing in the in The New York Times, stated the obvious about the failed war on drugs: “Compared with the returns from a traditional career of study and hard work, returns from dealing drugs are tempting to young and old alike. And many, especially the young, are not dissuaded by the bullets that fly so freely in disputes between competing drug dealers - bullets that fly only because dealing drugs is illegal. Al Capone epitomizes our earlier attempt at Prohibition the Crips and Bloods epitomize this one.”

Kelowna RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon was quoted last week as saying that just with current information, RCMP in the Central Okanagan could bust two grow ops a day for the next two to three months if they could devote enough people to it.

If marijuana were legalized, it wouldn’t be a problem because there would be few, if any, grow ops to bust.

According to Forbes magazine, marijuana is bigger in Canada than wheat, cattle or timber. Annual wholesale value of B.C. Bud is $7 billion in street value and is the province’s largest export.

Maclean’s magazine has reported that there are an estimated 20,000 grow ops in B.C. The next time you read that Kelowna RCMP has busted a grow op, skip the jubilation. It’s just PR to mask the fact we lost this grow op war long ago. (No offence to police officers who are just doing their job).

Almost half of B.C. residents have smoked marijuana. Think about that. Almost half the people in B.C. are criminals under current laws.

Watch for the California vote Nov. 2. If it passes, it will be the thin edge of the wedge toward opening up the business of marijuana in North America as well as delivering a critical blow to organized crime.

Even Gordon Campbell couldn’t resist the ka-ching of HST on marijuana sales.

Who would have thought California could lead the land in common sense?

Blue Divider Line

16 employees out of work

Another eatery temporarily closed
Kelowna Capital News - By Kathy Michaels - June 03, 2010

The Grateful Fed on Bernard Avenue has run afoul of the Liquor Control Branch and has been closed down until June 11.
Sean Connor/Capital News Photo

Fed heads will have to find somewhere else to get their nosh for a while, as the popular eatery, the Grateful Fed, has fallen victim of the law.

It appears a little weed, among a few other things, has led to Bernard Avenue restaurant being forced to close temporarily.

“Thanks to the Liquor control Board, the Grateful Fed will be closed for two weeks starting May 28—16 employees out of work, grand re-opening, June 11,” reads a sign outside the door.

According to a representative from the Liquor Control Board, the pub is currently serving a 14-day licence suspension and $2,000 penalty for permitting an intoxicated person to remain, permitting patrons to smoke pot on the pub patio and carry liquor across an unlicensed sidewalk.

The infractions occurred Oct 23, 2009 and the matter went to an enforcement hearing where the restaurant owner Karmel Abougoush licensee agreed that the contraventions occurred.

While Abougoush was unavailable for comment, the closure is just one of a series that have occurred as of late, sparking lively debate on a local web forum about an overzealous enforcement officer.

Among those that have faced suspensions from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch are the O.K. Corral Liquor Store for selling liquor to a minor. The Packing House Pub also got a suspension for selling liquor to a minor, as did East Side Mario’s for permitting an intoxicated person to remain. Rose’s Waterfront Pub was temporarily closed because of an employee consuming liquor and permitting an intoxicated person to remain.

While some have sour grapes, the general manager of Rose’s said he has a good working relationship with the officer and the officer is only doing his job.

“What’s happened in the past is that there hasn’t been much enforcement, and there’s been quite a bit going down in town — it’s all just new,” said Andrew Neville.

The liquor board is on the same page, noting that their Kelowna enforcement officer is often acting on tips from other agencies.

“Liquor inspectors work closely with police. Some of the recent enforcement action is the result of contraventions originally identified by the RCMP, who have provided that information to the liquor inspector,” said a representative.

Typically the branch will review this information and may recommend enforcement action. If it does, the licensee can request a hearing and the branch must present evidence that proves, on a balance of probabilities, a contravention occurred.

Blue Divider Line

Liquor law change draws support
Vernon Morning Star - June 03, 2010

A Vernon campaign to update B.C.’s liquor laws now has provincewide support.

A Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce policy that supports distilleries was passed successfully at the 58th annual general meeting of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

“We are pleased this resolution has been passed with the full support of the delegates attending the B.C. chamber conference,” said Jonathan Jones, Greater Vernon chamber president.

The policy resolution entitled, Liquor Distribution Branch Changes to Support Industry Choice For B.C., speaks to the need for the provincial government to review the legislative and regulatory structure with respect to alcoholic beverage manufacture, distribution and sale in B.C. to ensure fairness and balance in the industry, including artisan distillers.

Currently, distillers cannot sell their product directly to liquor stores.

“This is a practical policy that directly impacts a member business in our community and we are delighted that our chamber has been able to impact the potential growth and development of artisan distilleries across B.C., but more importantly in our community,” said Jones.

The development of this policy was a partnership between Okanagan Spirits, the City of Vernon, economic development and the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce.

“This is fantastic news. For the first time in our six-year history we feel that we have an opportunity to bring additional focus and outside attention to the current regulatory distribution system,” said Rodney Goodchild, sales and marketing manager of Vernon-based Okanagan Spirits.

“A change in the distribution policy would give our distillery and others of similar size a real chance to develop and grow in Vernon and throughout the province.”

The adoption of this policy now directs the B.C. Chamber of Commerce to address this issue with the provincial government.

Blue Divider Line

Prohibition not the right policy
Vernon Morning Star - May 25, 2010

There is a huge dragon in our living rooms that is named the war on drugs. Our elected leaders are reluctant to talk about it, and it is not a popular topic in daily conversations either.

The war eats up our resources, robs our society of scarce finances, and is an agent of social harm. The dragon's fire is prohibition, and collateral damage from that is huge. Prohibition's aim is to produce a drug-free society, and we will never totally achieve that. It's far better to manage drug use in intelligent ways.

The evidence of prohibition's failure is all around us. Daily we hear news, local and international, of never ending drug busts and violence as gangs shoot it out over turf. This is a global issue and in general, poor countries supply and wealthy ones buy. B.C. Bud is our biggest export commodity.

The associated issues of petty crime, break and enters, gun smuggling, prostitution, corruption of police and politicians, gambling associated money laundering, the spread of HIV/AIDS, incarceration, family disruption, and growing cynicism amongst our youth who see the hypocrisies, are a huge cost. Local RCMP will tell you that 80 per cent of local crime is drug-related. The U.S. spends $44 billion, and worldwide costs are more than 300 billion a year. Prohibition gives over control, including pricing, profits and purity, to organized crime.

Marijuana is widely used, and many people lead a secret, hypocritical life about it. According to the 2008 Drug Use Survey (Health Canada), 14.6 per cent of youth and 11.6 per cent of the general population use cannabis. The Canadian Senate Report (Special Committee on Illegal Drugs 2002), proposes a criminal exemption policy with careful regulation and licensing along the lines of how we control tobacco and alcohol. It also proposes a monitoring agency, and ongoing research after implementation. Let us not forget that alcohol abuse and tobacco use are still major societal problems. However we the public are in control. The profits return to us as taxes, and we respect the adult right to choose.

In 50 years of social persuasion, regulation, treatment programs and court battles with tobacco producers, we have made major progress in reducing morbidity from these two legal substances.

It can be done.

Change is beginning to happen. The Obama administration is no longer spraying coca crops in Colombia. Mexico has moved independently of the U.S. to decriminalize the personal use of cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and metamphetamine. Portugal has nine years experience with the decriminalization of personal use. Stats there show a decrease in use while use in European Union countries still in criminal mode show no change.

It is important to realize that there are no "good" solutions here, only "least worst" ones, and prohibition is the worst one. Those who are studying what needs to happen if we abandon prohibition say we will need to give full weight to a four pillars approach emphasizing prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement. Specific drug by drug regulatory scenarios would be proposed.

What can you do? Talk about it, educate yourself, (www.Leap.cc and www.drugpolicy.org), educate your MP and support one who is brave enough to come out on the subject. Demand change at election time.

David Kennedy, MD (retired)

Blue Divider Line

Appeals court strikes down safety inspection bylaw
By Kerrie-Ann Schoenit - Maple Ridge News - May 21, 2010

Pitt Meadows plans to continue operating its Public Safety Inspection Program, despite an appeals court ruling this week that a similar program breaks the law.

Mayor Don MacLean says the city will continue to conduct inspections on residences with abnormally high energy usage until the program is challenged. The program was introduced in 2007 to reduce the number of marijuana grow operations in the city. Under the program, occupants are given 24 hours notice before a bylaw officer, electrical inspector, fire personnel and members of the RCMP search the premises. The property owner is fined $3,000 if evidence of a marijuana grow-op is found.

“It’s been successful,” he said, pointing out that the city has not only found homes with illegal grow-ops, but also those with faulty wiring – a fire hazard.

“It’s a safety program. When it comes to family and well-being, I think that that is No. 1 and should really take precedence over whether the courts feel criminals should have more rights.”

The city’s legal team has reviewed the program and it’s “passed the test,” MacLean added.

The B.C. Court of Appeal unanimously decided that Surrey’s Electrical Fire and Safety Initiative violates the basic rights of residents guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“There is a “hierarchy of places,” atop of which is the home. Importantly for our purposes, the hierarchy decreases in the level of expected privacy as one moves from the home to the perimeter space around the home, to commercial space, to private cars, to schools, and then, at the bottom, to prisons,” Chief Justice Lance Finch wrote in the finding, adding the searches undertake are extremely invasive.

“They involve walking through the entire residence, searching electrical panels, and very involved searches of attic spaces, and crawl spaces.”

Finch noted in his finding that while law allows local inspectors to examine electrical wiring, in this case “they infringe the appellants’ rights under s. 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Section 8 of the Charter protects the public from unreasonable search and seizure.

– with files from Kevin Diakiw

Blue Divider Line

Majority of Canadians support legalizing marijuana: poll
Jeff Lee, Canwest News Service: Thursday, April 15, 2010

Protesters light a marijuana joint at a demonstration in support of marijuana legalization on Parliament Hill on Apr. 20, 2009.
Photo Credit: Wayne Cuddington/Canwest News Service,

VANCOUVER -- Most Canadians believe they should be free to toke with impunity -- but their tolerance for marijuana use doesn’t extend to other, harder drugs, according to a new national poll.

The Angus Reid poll, released Thursday, also shows many Canadians (42%) believe Canada has a serious nationwide drug abuse problem and 70% want mandatory minimum prison sentences and fines for drug dealers and marijuana grow operators.

The poll supports the findings of past Angus Reid polls that showed most Canadians believe decriminalization of marijuana possession is appropriate, but that other illegal drugs should remain illegal.

“As was the case two years ago, a majority of Canadians (53%) support the legalization of marijuana,” said an Angus Reid media release.

Three provinces saw the highest levels of support for legalization: British Columbia (61%), Alberta (59%) and Ontario (57%).

The online survey of 1,010 Canadians between April 8-9 showed that support for legalization of hard drugs “is negligible” -- less than one in 10 voiced support for legalizing hard drugs, a figure that had actually dropped since the polling company’s survey in 2008. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3.1%.

The poll shows 83% of Canadians support the federal government’s National Anti-Drug Strategy awareness campaign to discourage young Canadians from using drugs. Seven in 10 people also support the Harper government’s call for mandatory prison sentences and large fines for grow operators and dealers.

Conversely, slightly more than a third of Canadians support the idea of eliminating harm-reduction programs such as supervised injection sites and needle-exchange programs. In B.C., where the federal government waged a fight to close Vancouver’s Insite supervised injection site, 64% of respondents said such programs should continue.

Canadians also appear to be more convinced than two years ago that Canada now has a serious drug problem and that the problems are confined to specific areas and people.

In May 2008, 15% said they believed Canada does not have a serious drug abuse problem, compared to 11% now. Forty per cent of respondents now believe the problem is confined to specific areas and people. In 2008, the figure was 35%.

Overall, the survey shows that 42% of Canadians believe Canada has a serious drug abuse problem that affects the whole country. In B.C. and Alberta the rate is 48%. Less than four in 10 people in Ontario and Quebec believe it’s a serious problem. But in Atlantic Canada and Manitoba/Saskatchewan, the rate is 55 and 56% respectively.

Vancouver Sun

Blue Divider Line

Drug house forfeited to Crown
Vernon Morning Star - March 30, 2010

A judge has decided that an Oyama house, connected to a marijuana grow operation, should be forfeited to the Crown.

The property on Pada Road had been sold prior to the judgement and the proceeds are estimated at about $157,000.

“The forfeiture of offence-related property is a judicial measure available on conviction that can effectively hit criminals in the pocketbook, exacting an economic accounting for financially lucrative crimes such as drug trafficking, in addition to more traditional forms of sentencing,” said Cst. Steve Holmes, a media relations officer with the RCMP.

On Nov. 3, 2006, police converged on the property and found a marijuana grow operation situated in an outbuilding.

All but 180 plants had been removed prior to police arriving on scene.

“Along with the remainder of the plants, police seized growing equipment, and 2.5 kilograms of marijuana from another room in the building,” said Holmes.

“An electrical bypass was also located.”

Police arrested 32-year-old Kelly Dennison, who was the owner of the residence, Nov. 4, 2006.

She was charged with production of a controlled substance and theft of electricity.

Dennison was ultimately convicted and was sentenced March 22, 2010 to two years on a conditional sentence order.

She is to serve her sentence in the community, with conditions including house arrest and curfew.

Blue Divider Line

Four B.C. men face drug smuggling charges in U.S.
By KIM BOLAN, VANCOUVER SUN January 4, 2010

Four B.C. men are the latest to face U.S. charges in a multimillion-dollar cross-border drug smuggling case that has links to a United Nations gang member.

A Seattle court issued arrest warrants for Colin Hugh Martin, Sean Doak, James Gregory Cameron and Adam Christian Serrano in late December and extradition requests are expected to be made within weeks.

All four are charged with conspiring to import large amounts of marijuana and ecstasy into the U.S. and trying to smuggle cocaine back into Canada.

Two of the men — Martin, of the Shuswap region, and Doak, of Chilliwack — have previous drug smuggling convictions in the province.

In fact, Doak is alleged to have been involved in the new cross-border smuggling case while out on accelerated parole on a seven-year sentence for heading another crime group exporting marijuana to the U.S.

UN gangster Joe Curry, who is also wanted in the U.S. in a separate drug conspiracy case and awaiting extradition, is named in the new indictment as working in the criminal operation of the other B.C. accused.

And two young B.C. pilots caught in the U.S. — Samuel Lindsey Brown and Jeremy Snow — are also named in the indictment. Brown hanged himself in a Spokane jail after being arrested last February and Snow was sentenced to four years in jail in October 2009.

The court papers allege Martin, 37, headed the drug gang and sent helicopters he leased for his company, Gorge Timber, full of pot and ecstasy (MDMA) to remote landing sites in Washington and Idaho. They are alleged to have smuggled back into B.C. as much as 300 kilos a week of cocaine.

Some details of the drug conspiracy were released at a joint U.S.-Canada news conference last March when nine people were arrested, allegedly in the midst of a series of cross-border smuggling runs.

Police said at the time they had seized two helicopters, 272 kilograms of B.C. marijuana and more than 80 kilos of cocaine worth $15 million in all. Snow and some others caught in the U.S. were charged. But no charges were laid against Doak and Martin until last month.

In fact, Doak, who had his day parole revoked after the allegations came to light last spring, was re-released on parole in September 2009, according to National Parole Board documents.

The board referenced the continuing U.S. investigation, but said it had not been given “persuasive evidence you have re-involved yourself in the drug trade.”

The new U.S. indictment quotes BlackBerry messages Doak allegedly sent last February while on parole “confirming anticipated upcoming exchanges of cocaine and marijuana.”

After Brown was nabbed on Feb. 23, Martin allegedly sent out concerned messages asking whether Brown had been arrested.

Doak sent an electronic message Feb. 24, saying all involved had to work “as a team,” because Martin “had not only lost machine and captain,” but could also be responsible for the loss of the load which Doak said was worth $4-$5 million.

Doak made reference to it being unfair to make one person in the group “take the whole hit” and said Martin “will be lucky if he is not dead” for losing the shipment.

According to the indictment, Martin first called the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Seattle on Feb. 25, 2009 and asked for the return of his helicopter. Martin then called the DEA’s Vancouver office in September 2009 “offering to provide ongoing information regarding drug trafficking into the United States.”

In October and November 2009, Martin claimed to have the “ability to control 70 per cent of the work that comes out of B.C. and what comes into B.C.”

“Martin explained that he could identify other co-conspirators and direct law enforcement to drug lords so long as he was allowed to continue his drug business for 10 years and was assured that law enforcement would arrest only other people,” the indictment says.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Whalley said Monday that it can take several weeks to get the paperwork ready for extradition requests, which then go through Washington, D.C., then to Ottawa and finally back to B.C. Supreme Court for a hearing.

“It will take us a couple of months to prepare the extradition,” he said.

kbolan "at" vancouversun.com

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Blue Divider Line

Drug-sniffing dog helps cops nab suspected pot growers
Kelowna Capital News - December 11, 2009

Some of the drugs seized by police during a raid on a home in Peachland Friday.

Otis the drug-sniffing dog has earned himself some extra Kibbles ‘n’ Bits.

According to Kelowna RCMP, a road stop on Highway 33 in Rock Creek led to the seizure of 854 marijuana plants at a residence in Peachland.

Police say after the motorist was stopped in Rock Creek, Otis sniffed out 1.9 kilograms of marijuana and what was described as a substantial amount of money was found in the vehicle.

As a result of the vehicle search, the Kelowna police obtained a search warrant, for the residence on Ponderosa Drive in Peachland, and officers located a hydro bypass, the pot plants and extensive marihuana harvesting machinery and high-end growing equipment.

The search took place Friday morning.

In addition to the plants and drug-making equipment, a 2 1/4-kilogram bag of dried marijuana bud was also found, as well as 6 3/4 kilograms of high-grade marijuana leaves, called shake, used to produce hash. Three unsecured firearms were also seized at the residence.

A man, believed to be the caretaker of the grow operation, arrived at the residence and was found to be intoxicated. He was arrested for marijuana cultivation and for driving while impaired.

A 26-year old man from Peachland, a 23-year old woman from Kelowna and a 26-year old man from Prince George are facing numerous Criminal Code charges.

awaters "at" kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

Pot grower draws attention after leaving keys inside locked house
Kelowna Capital News - December 01, 2009

A man seen crawling in the window of a house was not arrested for breaking and entering, but instead for the grow operation police discovered inside.

RCMP Const. Steve Holmes said police received a call at 6 p.m. on Nov. 27 of a person breaking into a residence in the 800-block of Fife Road. He said officers attended and arrested the man inside the home.

Holmes said the man explained he was the owner of the home and had forgotten his keys inside after locking the door. While the officers were inside the home, they discovered an active marijuana grow operation.

“It was pretty obvious when they went into the residence.”

Holmes said the officers returned with a search warrant, seizing 160 marijuana plants, several pounds of dried marijuana and associated grow equipment.

He noted the 44-year-old Kelowna man is now facing charges of marijuana cultivation and possession, and has no previous criminal record.

msimmons
"at" kelownacapnews.com

Blue Divider Line

City claims rigorous grow-op inspections
Kelowna.com - Friday, January 8th, 2010

Contributed

A CBC investigation into damage to homes caused by grow-ops raises concerns about the ability of home inspectors and municipal building inspectors to recognize and effectively deal with the health hazard they pose.

Grow Op Cover Up, airing Friday on CBC TV’s Marketplace program, sees reporter Erica Johnson and celebrity builder Mike Holmes investigate ways in which house sellers hide mould and other contaminants that result from marijuana production operations.

“Raising awareness about this problem on national television gives us an opportunity to let the community know how seriously the City of Kelowna takes this issue and how we address it,” says Ron Dickinson, Development Services Director.

No complaints have been registered against the City since it instituted a special inspection program three years ago for buildings police have shut down for containing a grow-op.

The municipal bylaw regarding occupancy of known grow-op buildings requires specialized inspections by an environmental scientist and City inspectors. The homeowner is required to hire the scientist to test the home’s environment for contaminants, whether it’s mould or chemical residue from plant production or meth labs.

“The scientist then explains to the homeowner what steps are required to rid the home of these contaminants and the City also receives a report on the requirements,” says Dickinson.

The building remains closed to occupants until the homeowner has the remediation work completed and the environmental scientist returns to certify the work meets the same health standards as any other building in Kelowna.

After that step, the City sends in building and plumbing inspectors to ensure the building’s infrastructure was not altered to accommodate the illegal activity. It also works with the B.C. Safety Authority to ensure electrical systems are in a safe operating condition. If the inspections determine more work is required to bring these systems up to building codes, the homeowner must obtain the appropriate permits from the City.

“This enables us to further follow up to ensure the needed repairs are made before anyone can occupy the building,” says Dickinson. “A final inspection is the last step before the home is certified as safe to live in.

Blue Divider Line

Bill C-15 Passed

http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HouseBills/BillsGovernment.aspx#C15

Senate votes to remove mandatory minimum sentences from Tory pot law
macleans.ca - December 9, 2009 - THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA - The Senate has voted in favour of changing a Conservative crime bill that would have imposed a mandatory six-month minimum sentence on people convicted of growing as few as five pot plants.

By a vote of 49-44, the Liberal-dominated upper chamber agreed to amend Bill C-15 to give judges greater discretion in sentencing convictions for growing between five and 200 plants.

The amendments also provide aboriginal convicts with an exemption from the minimum sentences, require judges to explain why they are not imposing the suggested minimums, and add in a cost-benefit review of how the legislation is working after five years.

However, mandatory minimum sentences of nine months still remain in place if there are aggravating factors to the marijuana grow-op, such as endangering the health of a child or creating a public safety hazard.

The Conservative government has sharply criticized the Senate for tinkering with legislation that has already been passed by the elected House of Commons.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson called the changes "an early Christmas present from the Liberals to the people in the grow-op business - it sends out the complete wrong message in my opinion."

However Nicholson did not rule out accepting the Senate amendments.

He would only say that the changes mean the legislative debate will drag into the new year before the bill eventually gets passed into law.

Blue Divider Line

Mandatory minimum sentences and drug offences
Submitted by Jacob Hunter on Wed, 12/09/2009 - Posted by David Bratzer, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Found on
WhyProhibition.ca


Mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences continues to be a hot topic in the world of drug reform. (Yes, I admit it, I am a policy nerd and this stuff excites me.)

In Pennsylvania, a major new study suggests the state should alter its sentencing laws. The report found that mandatory minimums did not affect recidivism, although they did encourage plea bargaining. From the Delco Times:

A nearly 30-year debate on mandatory-minimum sentences recently got a another look with a new report from the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing.

The report was authorized by the state Legislature in 2007 and employed an advisory committee made up of legislators, judges, district attorneys and public defenders. Commission staff also worked with faculty and students of Pennsylvania State University in conducting interviews, surveys, extensive data analysis and studies to reach its conclusions.

The nearly 500-page report made three major recommendations to the General Assembly, according to a considerably shorter summary: Allow courts to use alternative sentencing options to satisfy lower-level, drug-trafficking mandatory-minimum sentences; amend the drug trafficking statute to increase the threshold for cocaine possession; and repeal Drug-Free School Zone mandatory legislation.

In Canada we are moving backward on this issue. Bill C-15 introduces mandatory minimum sentences for a variety of drug offences. Neil Boyd, a criminology professor in British Columbia, has an essay in The Mark about the internal contradictions found within this legislation. I've taken the liberty of highlighting my favourite points in bold:
Let’s assume that mandatory minimum sentences for the distribution of illegal drugs represents good social policy, sending a message to would-be participants in the commercial trade, frightening drug dealers out of the business, especially if they use weapons, or engage in any form of intimidation.

Unfortunately, Bill C-15, the government’s proposal to amend the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, has its own internal contradictions, regardless of whether one believes in its approach. The most significant contradiction is its relatively harsh treatment of cannabis production, in contrast to its treatment of the trafficking (or possession for the purpose of trafficking) in cannabis (and heroin and cocaine). Section 5(3) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is to be amended to provide for a minimum term of one year imprisonment for trafficking in heroin, cocaine, or cannabis, provided that the convicted person commits the offence as part of a criminal organization, uses violence in committing the offence, is carrying or threatening to use a weapon in committing the offence – or has served a term of imprisonment for a designated substance offence (typically trafficking or importing an illegal drug). Somewhat surprisingly and quite inconsistently, these same caveats are not applied to the offence of marijuana production.

Granted, the minimum term of imprisonment is six months, rather than one year, but the irony is that the distributors of more dangerous drugs are to be treated less harshly than the producers of a less dangerous one (cannabis), irrespective of the actual amounts involved. And even more oddly, the distributors of cannabis are to be treated differently from the producers of cannabis, again irrespective of the amounts in question.

Additionally, consider section 1. (1) (a) (i) (D) of Bill C-15, the proposed imposition of a mandatory term of one year in prison, if the convicted drug distributor has served a term of imprisonment for distribution of marijuana, cocaine, or heroin at any point during the previous 10 years. Think of the user-dealer with longstanding addiction and mental health problems, convicted of selling a small amount of crack cocaine to his associates and having previously served a short jail sentence for this crime. Is this the kind of person that we want to lock up for a minimum of one year? It seems quite clear that if our politicians leave this section as it is, it will fill our jails with hundreds of individuals annually who are far from commercially driven by the illicit trade – individuals who might be better served by a range of treatment modalities than by a mandated term of imprisonment.

But back to the Bill’s most glaring inconsistency – its much harsher treatment of the production of cannabis (in contrast to the distribution of cannabis, cocaine, or heroin). C-15 will impose a minimum term of imprisonment of six months on any grower of six plants or more, regardless of the issues of violence, weaponry, or the presence of criminal networks. It scarcely needs to be said that marijuana growers are not uniformly violent; studies to date indicate that the industry is far from hierarchical, and, accordingly, is replete with a variety of unrelated grow operations.

The majority of growers do not use violence, do not carry weapons and are not part of any criminal organization, as defined by the Criminal Code (unless any individuals who conspire to grow marijuana are, by definition, organized criminals). In these circumstances, Bill C-15 will have the unfortunate consequence of annually jailing thousands of Canadians who do not threaten the social fabric any more than those who produce, in a regulated framework, drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. And if morbidity is our benchmark, it might be fairly said that the producers of alcohol and tobacco are imposing much greater harms upon our communities, even when rates of use of each of these drugs are taken into account.

This is a problem. Why does the Bill, which is purported to attack the commercial aspects of the trade, and the violence within it, nonetheless target addicted user-dealers? And why does it slam marijuana producers with minimum terms, but offer up a more lenient treatment for the distributors of the same drug, irrespective of the amounts in question? I have yet to find any good answers for these questions.

Note that since Boyd's article was published, the bill has been amended by the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. The number of plants now required to trigger a mandatory minimum sentence has been increased to 200. However, the provision regarding rental properties has been left intact. So Canadians who live in basement suites and one bedroom apartments will receive a minimum sentence of nine months if they grow any number of marijuana plants - even one - for the purpose of trafficking.

In spite of the amendments, Bill C-15 will still cast a wide net. For example, it will snare university students as well as working folks who can't afford their own homes but still grow marijuana for themselves and a couple of friends. I'm sure police officers across the country are looking forward to dealing with the flood of tips about these micro-grows. They are so small that regular investigative techniques (eg. checking for abnormal power consumption) turn up nothing. And there is nothing more fun than putting real police work on hold in order to deal with voice mails from a shady landlord who is looking for an excuse - any excuse - to kick out his tenants and jack up the rent.

Great bill, eh? I am not a legal genius, but if I was writing legislation to target "organized crime" this is not how I would go about it.

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Health Canada demands marijuana smokers pay up in advance
The Canadian Press - Saturday Oct. 31, 2009

Health Canada is getting tough with patients who use government-certified medical marijuana, demanding full payment in advance before shipping the weed.

The move, effective Nov. 30, is designed to halt the rising number of accounts in arrears -- and force more patients to pay off old debts that now total more than $1.2 million.

"This change to a purchase-in-advance system will streamline the order and payment process and will prevent further increases to the debt load of the department," says a recent Health Canada letter issued to users.

More than 4,600 people in Canada are licensed to use medical marijuana to treat a wide range of conditions, including chronic pain, that may not be resolved by standard prescription drugs.

Several court rulings forced a reluctant Health Canada to get into the marijuana business in 2003 so that bona fide patients would not have to rely on the black market for supplies.

Most authorized users grow their own pot or have someone else grow it for them, all under licence, but some 800 are currently buying their medical marijuana from Health Canada.

The government sells dried marijuana for $5 a gram -- about half the price of street marijuana -- or 30 seeds for $20, plus GST and provincial taxes.

The marijuana, which has received poor reviews from many users for being harsh and ineffective, has a THC content of about 12.5 per cent. THC is the main active ingredient of the cannabis plant.

Previously, users could order and pay later. But hundreds of patients -- who are often seriously ill, unable to work and on welfare or disability pensions -- could not keep up with their Health Canada bills and built up large debts.

Beginning Nov. 30, Health Canada will require a money order, certified cheque, Visa, Amex or MasterCard before medical marijuana is shipped, normally by courier.

And those customers with accounts currently in arrears must agree to a payment plan with Health Canada before receiving any more product. Interest accrues on overdue accounts at 3.5 per cent, and Health Canada has sent 31 stale accounts to collections agencies.

Almost 1,100 customers have fallen behind in payments so far, forcing Health Canada to carry some $1.2 million in accounts overdue for more than 30 days. About half of the accounts have been overdue for a year or more.

"This change (in policy) does not alter Health Canada's commitment to providing fair and equitable access to marijuana for medical purposes and . . . will have no impact on the current authorization process," spokeswoman Christelle Legault said in an email.

"Health Canada is committed to working with persons whose accounts are in arrears, and will work with them through the department's accounts receivable to establish a payment arrangement plan."

A few users have their bills picked up by taxpayers.

Last year, Veterans Affairs reversed previous policy and said it will now pay for medical marijuana for any veterans licensed by Health Canada. At least eight veterans have benefited from the new policy.

Most users, though, cannot recoup the cost of their cannabis from governments because medical marijuana has never been assigned official drug status under the Food and Drug Act and is therefore not covered by any provincial pharmacare programs. The costs, though, can be deducted as medical expenses when filing annual income-tax forms.

One Health Canada customer in Surrey, B.C., says he will never be able to pay his $4,200 accumulated bill -- and argues he should not have to.

"This is something that's already paid for by the taxpayer and I shouldn't be paying it again," Tim Davison said in an interview.

Davison, 41, was cut off from Health Canada's weed about 18 months ago, and now must go to the black market for some of his marijuana, which he uses to control pain and nausea.

"I could incur a smear in my credit report," he says about his worries over speaking out. "I could aggravate Health Canada (and) they could come at me harder."

Health Canada has hired Saskatoon-based Prairie Plant Systems to produce and ship the marijuana to authorized users. For years the company grew the dope in an abandoned underground mine at Flin Flon, Man., but left the facility in the summer for an undisclosed location.

Department officials have said they will eventually phase out all personal production, forcing patients to order all their dope from the government, perhaps through pharmacy distribution.

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961 court cases listed in the BC Courts Database using the keyword marijuana on Dec 4, 2009

78 court cases listed in the BC Courts Database using the keyword CDSA on Dec 4, 2009

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R. v. Craig, 2007 BCCA 234

[40] Forfeiture is not a new concept in Canadian criminal law. Forms of it have been found over the years in statutes related to customs and excise, as well as those related to the control of drugs and narcotics. The CDSA, which replaced the Narcotic Control Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. N-1 in 1997, is among the more recent manifestations of forfeiture in Canadian law.

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/ca/07/02/2007bcca0234.htm

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Civil Forfeiture Cases in BC

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/09/01/2009BCSC0185.htm forfeited

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/Jdb-txt/SC/08/08/2008BCSC0824.htm

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R. v. K.T. Nguyen; R. v. N.T. Nguyen, 2007 BCCA 474 forfeited

[7] Noting that expert evidence indicated that the need for general deterrence had increased, the judge concluded that forfeiture of the property in this case was necessary to provide an adequate level of deterrence if a conditional sentence were to be imposed.

[8] The appellant contends that the judge erred in failing to address whether the impact of forfeiture of the property would be disproportionate and instead focussed on whether forfeiture was necessary to provide an adequate level of deterrence. The appellants further contend that the judge failed to consider a partial forfeiture order, although they did not seek such an order in the Supreme Court.

[9] I am not persuaded that the judge erred as the appellants allege. The judge properly considered all of the statutory criteria in the context of the sentence as a whole. As this court stated recently in R. v. Craig, 2007 BCCA 234 at para. 66-67:

[66] With respect to the order of forfeiture, the answer to these questions is a function of the wording of the CDSA. Unlike forfeiture of personal property, real property is subject to ss. 19.1(3) and (4), which require the court to consider the "impact of forfeiture" in deciding whether it would be disproportionate. As I read these sections, their words do not require the court to consider whether forfeiture, as an objective concept, would be disproportionate given the nature and gravity of the offence. If they did, s. 19.1(3) might read: "if a court is satisfied that an order of forfeiture would be disproportionate …" Instead, what is says is, "if a court is satisfied that the impact of an order of forfeiture would be disproportionate…"

[67] Parliament's choice of the word "impact" brings a subjective element into the analysis. As I read it, s. 19.1(3) requires the court to ask what effect forfeiture will have on the offender and whether its impact would be disproportionate to the nature, gravity and circumstances surrounding the offence. The term 'impact', in my view, is broad enough to include consideration of a primary sentence. Indeed, a sentencing judge could not adequately assess the impact of forfeiture of real property or a dwelling-house without knowing the personal circumstances of the offender, which include the primary sentence that has been or will be imposed on that offender.

[10] It is clear that the judge in the instant case was careful to craft a sentence in which he considered deterrence to be a key objective. It cannot be ignored that the appellants in this case purchased the property with the evident intention to use it to produce marihuana at a time when the appellants lived in rental accommodation elsewhere.

The appeal is dismissed

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/ca/07/04/2007bcca0474.htm forfeited

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R. v. Craig, 2007 BCCA 234

This is only a snippet of this court case, she appealed and got her house back after if was forfeited

--------------------------------------

[5] For the reasons that follow, I would allow the Crown’s appeal with respect to the order of forfeiture, set aside the decision of the sentencing judge, and order the North Vancouver home be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of Canada to be disposed of in accordance with s. 16 of the CDSA. I would, however, dismiss the Crown’s appeal against the conditional sentence of imprisonment, and I would allow Ms. Craig’s appeal to the extent of setting aside the fine of $100,000.

Conclusion

[131] For the reasons I have given, I would allow the Crown appeal with respect to the order of forfeiture, set aside the decision of the sentencing judge, and order the Alder Street home to be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of Canada to be disposed of in accordance with s. 16 of the CDSA.

[132] In light of this forfeiture order, I would dismiss the Crown appeal against the conditional sentence of imprisonment.

[133] I would allow Ms. Craig’s appeal to the extent that the $100,000 fine and the victim surcharge are set aside.

[134] Finally, I would dismiss the other grounds with respect to the applicable process for forfeiture under ss. 16(1) and 19.1 of the CDSA.

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/ca/07/02/2007bcca0234.htm

 

[36] Sub-paragraph 7(d) provides:

Ensure that the Property is not used in any fashion that is contrary to any statute or regulation of Canada or British Columbia or any by-law of Likely;

[37] In my opinion sub-paragraph 7(d) is too broad and vague to be enforceable. A permissible order would be one that prohibits the owner from permitting a continuation of the specific alleged unlawful activity on the premises. To be clear, the order sought does not merely require the owner to comply with the law but rather to ensure that no unlawful act take place on her property. This may be unenforceable insofar as it imposes responsibility on the owner for the acts of others not subject to her control.

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/CA/09/04/2009BCCA0402.htm

 

THE COPS GOT $7.5 MILLION RICHER OFF FORFEITURE CLAIMS, SO SHOULD WE BE SEEING LESS CRIME?

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release 2009PSSG0039-000689

November 27, 2009
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

NUISANCE DRUG HOUSE SEIZED

VANCOUVER - The province’s innovative civil forfeiture act has been used to restore peace and safety to a Vancouver neighbourhood by seizing a known drug, weapons and prostitution den while associated criminal charges are dealt with in court, Solicitor General Kash Heed and Vancouver Police Department chief Jim Chu said today.

“Police were called to this house more than 500 times and residents in the area felt fearful and harassed – their safety jeopardized by illegal activities at the property,” said Heed. “Through civil forfeiture, we can take action in these kinds of situations to restore order to the community without having to wait for the outcome of a criminal proceeding.”

“The Province's civil forfeiture laws have enabled us to partner with government and deal with problems that compromised the safety and security of the neighbourhood,” said Chu. “It is a proactive way to make sure that criminals lose and the neighbourhood wins.”

Last April, VPD referred the file to the Civil Forfeiture Office. In May, the director initiated a civil forfeiture action in BC Supreme Court claiming that the property had been operated and possessed as an instrument of unlawful activity. This included being used for the sale of controlled substances contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and as a common bawdy house, contrary to the Criminal Code. The director claimed forfeiture of the property in accordance with the Civil Forfeiture Act.

On Nov. 24, 2009 the director secured forfeiture of the property. It will now be sold for an as yet undetermined price, with proceeds of the sale being paid to the Province’s civil forfeiture special account. The house is the 25th property forfeited to date.

In the three years since B.C. the Civil Forfeiture Act was passed, $7.5 million in illicit assets – including vehicles, cash and real estate – have been forfeited to the Province. Under the act, proceeds will go into a special account that is used to support the program and grants to victims and community crime prevention efforts. Most recently, $40,000 in civil forfeiture funds were provided to the Vancouver Police Department’s ConAir program.

Contact:

Media Relations
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
250 356-6961

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.

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.pdf icon June 22, 2009 Highlights of the Regional Board Meeting

Drug Policy Coordinator Presents Report

The Central Okanagan Drug Policy Coordinator has presented a report card on the Four Pillars Approach to Problematic Substance Use.

Christene Walsh told the Regional Hospital District Board that over the past two years many improvements have been made in the area of community support and reaction to substance abuse. She says there has been greater cooperation and coordination between public and non-profit agencies that deal with clients suffering addictions. As well, she says effective prevention, treatment and harm reduction activities are addressing drug-related health issues.

While she provides a ‘B’ grade overall, Walsh says the community is more engaged and willing to seek positive solutions in those areas that require more attention such as improving service and treatment capacity.

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Candidate in the running to keep marijuana talks honest
Vernon Morning Star - May 02, 2009

Not legalizing marijuana is costing billions, says the Marijuana Party candidate in the Shuswap riding, and that’s why he’s running for office.

“I’m running to keep the discussion about pot honest,” says candidate Chris Emery, running for a second consecutive time in this riding.

“I want the message to get out, not just to the general public, but to our next representative in the legislature. Re-legalize it – it used to be legal, we need to regulate and tax it. Right now we spend billions chasing folks like me around, yet we leave billions of tax dollars on the table. That’s a double whammy. It’s the economics.”

Emery says the fact that marijuana is illegal fuels gangs.

“It’s the lifeblood of gangs and the violence that it brings on. They ended alcohol prohibition and with it went bathtub gin, Al Capone and the Purple Gang.”

Emery has been a Sorrento resident since 1995 and works full-time as an instrument electrical control systems technologist.

Emery says he stepped down after eight years on the executive of the South Shuswap Chamber of Commerce and two years as president in order to run.

He said after writing a couple of newspaper articles on pot prohibition and receiving positive feedback, he decided in 2005 to enter the political arena.

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Green Team busts up gang drug profits
By Adrian Nieoczym - Kelowna Capital News - Published: April 08, 2009

A special RCMP Green Team based in Kelowna has busted up 25 marijuana grow operations in five weeks, some of which police believe were connected to organized crime.

“As a result of the green team’s effort 15 males and seven females will face charges of production of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. Charges against others are still under investigation,” said RCMP Insp. Cam Forgues at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, when police showed off some of the drugs, guns and cash they had seized.

“The grows were located in both rural and urban areas, some on acreages. Several were located in affluent family neighbourhoods,” said Forgues.

“There were hydro electrical bypasses on 11 of the grow sites that will result in additional charges of theft of hydro.

“Also, charges of unsafe storage of firearms will result in connection with the seizure of firearms in some of the sites.”

Of particular concern to the police was evidence of children living on site at six of the grow operations.

The nine members of the Green Team were temporarily assembled from the Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country RCMP detachments.

The RCMP received civilian assistance from FortisBC, B.C. Hydro, the province’s ministry of child and family services and local electrical contractors.

The team executed warrants at 10 West Kelowna locations, eight in Kelowna, six in Lake Country and one in Lumby.

A total of 1,774 plants were seized, which, police say, when processed could have produced 1,520 kilograms of dried marijuana. Police say the seizures have an estimated value of $8.6 million.

Police also seized $50,000 in cash and 18 firearms.

Four of those were pellet rifles, though most were hunting firearms, including several .303 caliber rifles and a semiautomatic shotgun.

No handguns were seized however.

“That did surprise me,” said Forgues.

Police believe most of the marijuana was destined for export and that organized crime was involved with at least some of the operations.

“B.C. is well-known for producing high quality marijuana that commands a premium price. It is very apparent that Kelowna and the area is clearly connected to the illegal drug network that is controlled by criminal organizations,” said Forgues.

At one of the sites, police seized boards stamped with a logo for a well-known gang, the Kingpins, which police said were used for printing T-shirts.

The last time the Green Team was brought together was two years ago, according to Forgues.

He added that it will be assembled again in the future when the RCMP has the information and resources to warrant it.

Asked if he thought the Green Team had made an impact on the number of marijuana grow operations in the area, Forgues relied, “this is at least a temporary dent.”

adrian [at] kelownacapnews.com

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$6 million of marijuana seized at Sumas border
Abbotsford News - Published: February 18, 2009

A Langley man is facing charges after US Customs and Border Protection officers seized 1,746 pounds of high grade marijuana concealed within the floors of a cattle trailer.

Edwin Roy Fuller, 39, of Langley, was arrested February 17 at the Sumas port of entry.

Fuller, a commercial truck driver, arrived at the port with a load of beef cattle destined for Stanwood, Washington, when he was selected for an intensive inspection.

The cattle were off loaded and the trailer was examined using a gamma x-ray imaging device which discovered inconsistencies in the lower and upper decks of the trailer.

Officers entered the trailer and noticed a space discrepancy in the interior, indicating the possibility of a built-up compartment in the floor. Officers scraped off the natural byproduct of cows and endured the associated odours to unbolt false panels which concealed hundreds of plastic bags of marijuana beneath.

The BC Bud, a highly potent form of marijuana cultivated in British Columbia, can sell for $3,500 to $6,000 a pound in the United States.

“We will continue to be vigilant in our mission of protecting the homeland from terrorists and the criminal elements that would harm our society,” said Area Port Director Pat Hinchey. “And while it is not everyday we discover drugs hidden under cow flop, it does have its own unique sweet smell of success.”

At first the bags of marijuana were tossed from the trailer into a few evidence boxes but these were quickly overwhelmed by the cascading flow of seized contraband. A large mound of bags formed on the ground beside the trailer. Eventually all the marijuana was packaged inside 69 large boxes which had to be placed back into the cow trailer for transportation to a secured repository vault.

Fuller was taken into custody on site by CBP officers and turned over to agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle. ICE is conducting the criminal investigation.

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Get rid of gangs by legalizing drugs
Kelowna Capital News - Letters - Published: January 29, 2009

To the editor:

This is in response to the editorial Gang Shooting a Warning Signal (Capital News Jan. 28).

It is obvious that you, the RCMP chief and like thinkers are all in denial and/or ignorant of the mistakes of the alcohol prohibition era.

You are also in denial and/or ignorant of the fact that a huge chunk of our society smokes pot both young and old. You also seem to be blind to the fact that in the United States they already have virtually a zero tolerance policy. Yet where does most of our precious B.C. bud go?

As a result the American jails are over flowing with what I would suggest are not criminals.

George Bush claims that if you do drugs then you support terrorism and I would suggest gangs. Using that logic, then 80 years ago if you drank booze you supported gangs, right? So what changed?

People still drink booze. So obviously the law changed. In spite of the governments of the day’s efforts trying their damndest to eliminate the evil booze from society, demand for the product continued.

As a result the gangsters moved in to capitalize on the demand. This is precisely the same reason why the modern day gangsters are moving in on the drug trade. History is repeating it self.

So, it is obvious that the only solution to today’s gangster problems is to legalize pot.

Ask yourselves why booze was legalized. What ever the answer is, it’s the same reason why pot should be legalized. After booze was legalized anyone that drank was no longer considered a criminal. The same would happen with pot.

Booze companies were considered criminal organizations during Prohibition. They are now corporate citizens who pay taxes and employ people who also pay taxes.

Imagine, the pot smokers today would no longer be considered criminals and can then come out of their closets.

The gangsters would now become corporate citizens and pay taxes and employ people who will also pay taxes. Talk about a boost to the economy.

Fill the jails with real criminals like the three cops that were drunk and beat up that guy in Vancouver.

Or the four cops that killed that guy at the Vancouver airport.

Or all the other cops that should be in jail for what would be considered criminal activity had they not been cops. I rest my case.

Wayne Macdonald
Kelowna

------------------------------
comment by Cyberlots

You couldn't have said it any better!

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B.C. appears to be losing the war with drug gangs
By Tom Fletcher - Kelowna Capital News - Published: January 13, 2009

There’s one area of B.C. business investment that’s seen a boom in rural areas. Unfortunately, it’s organized crime.

You may have heard the saga of Likely, a tiny community east of Williams Lake. Last fall RCMP confirmed results of a two-year investigation that found eight properties with buildings fitted for large-scale marijuana growing.

At least one of those has been seized under civil forfeiture legislation, a powerful new tool in targeting proceeds of crime.

Nine Lower Mainland residents, all with Asian names, were charged.

Are there more Likelys out there?

No doubt the gangs learned about the hazards of creating a cluster in one place.

Just before New Year’s Day, police used snowmobiles to raid a property near Clearwater, north of Kamloops.

They described it as a machine shed with industrial-style wiring that appeared to have been built for a grow-op.

Further north, Houston RCMP resorted to using their holding cells to store masses of seized hydroponic equipment.

That’s according to deputy RCMP commissioner Gary Bass, who spoke to a conference on the hazards of grow-ops in Surrey last May.

The problem goes beyond marijuana, a relatively benign drug.

Bass noted that the popularity of “B.C. bud” has led to many new players in the cocaine trade. Even small local groups tend to have ties to bikers in southern B.C. who have developed lucrative bud-for-blow arrangements reaching down to South America.

And when bullets fly in B.C. communities, there are generally hard drugs, often cocaine, involved.

Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis spearheaded a new approach that targets safety hazards of bad wiring and high electricity consumption. In 2006 the B.C. government passed legislation allowing municipalities to obtain hydro records showing high-consumption properties, then inspect those properties.

Piloted in Surrey and Abbotsford, the approach has since been adopted in Coquitlam, Langley Township, Mission, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver.

Recent hydro records show a 20 per cent drop in high-consumption properties around the Lower Mainland.

Now Garis fears the problem has simply been displaced to more remote sites.

Gangs adapt quickly, buying power instead of stealing it, or going off the grid with generators in remote places.

Small towns have few police resources, and can’t afford electrical inspection teams on their own.

Garis points to a recent survey of hydroponic equipment stores that found more than 80 in all regions of B.C., compared to 13 in Alberta and nine in Washington state.

Police, firefighters and business groups supported a resolution at a recent municipal convention, calling on the B.C. government to require an electrical permit for buyers of high-powered lights and hydroponic gear. So far the government is non-committal.

I asked Solicitor General John van Dongen why.

He said his priority lately has been finding ways to regulate another illicit trade, metal theft.

(A court decision two years ago said municipalities can’t require pawn shops or scrap dealers to record sellers’ identities.)

He’s also concerned about restricting legitimate hydroponic farming.

“I’m going to take a bit more time to look at the hydroponic issue,” he said.

Garis says other provinces are acting. In 2006 Manitoba agreed to pay for electrical inspections, instead of leaving it to communities that can’t afford it, as B.C. is doing.

“We’re a world crime superpower predicated on marijuana,” a frustrated Garis told me.

“Eighty per cent of what we’re growing here is being distributed corporately to other provinces, the United States and elsewhere.

“We’ve made a booming business out of it because we’re resting on our laurels, saying, oh, we don’t want to regulate, and yet this thing just spirals out of control. It’s ridiculous.”

Prohibition doesn’t work

Before you start e-mailing me about the ultimate futility of prohibiting marijuana, let me say I agree.

Former prime minister Paul Martin’s government came close to decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot, which could have begun to replace violent gangs with small-scale, benign growers.

Needless to say, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives aren’t keen.

They prefer mandatory minimum sentences for offenders, which sounds great until you look at the state of our court and prison system.

If we could somehow solve drug gang violence, our courts would soon be quiet. Last week an Abbotsford man was sentenced to 12 years for attempted murder. He shot another man four times over a $140 drug debt.

Ethnic gang realities

Before you start e-mailing me about the reference to “Asian names,” here’s how the RCMP broke down gang activity as of 2005.

They identified 108 groups, one quarter motorcycle gangs, nine per cent Asian triad-related (focused on heroin and diversifying into chemical precursors for meth and such), nine per cent Indo-Canadian, eight per cent Eastern European, and the remaining third independents, mostly Caucasian.

As of last year, police had the capacity to investigate about one in four identified groups, so they rank them with a threat assessment.

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press newspapers.

tfletcher [at] blackpress.ca

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Popularity of alcohol in B.C. borne out by the numbers
By Adrian Nieoczym - Kelowna Capital News - Published: January 01, 2009

Alcohol, it seems, is more popular than ever.

According a report by provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, British Columbians are drinking more than ever, with the highest rate of alcohol consumption to be found within the Interior Health Authority’s catchment area, which includes the Central Okanagan.

According to the report, the average person in B.C. over 15 now consumes the equivalent of 8.82 litres of absolute alcohol a year, up eight per cent from 2002.

That works out to about 513 beers or glasses of wine per person.

In the Interior, an average of 11.1 litres per person is consumed, or about 646 beers or glasses of wine.

Kendall attributes the increased consumption to more availability, noting that over 500 new liquor stores have opened in B.C. since 2002.

There is no way to really know why more alcohol is consumed in the Interior, according to Lesley Coates, prevention coordinator with Kelowna Alcohol and Drug Services.

The data in the report is based on sales, noted Coates, and those figures do not distinguish between alcohol sold to locals and alcohol sold to visitors.

“One kind of has to question whether or not the volume of tourists we have here impacts those numbers,” said Coates. “That isn’t to say there aren’t residents in the Interior who drink in a high risk manner, because there are.”

Coates said that even though people often don’t think of alcohol as drug, it is the drug which causes the biggest number of social problems because of its availability and social acceptance.

“Alcohol is definitely a drug because a drug is essentially anything that changes how your body or mind functions,” she said. “When people consume (alcohol), it’s going to slow down their brain and body functions.”

The first drink often induces a warm and fuzzy, sociable feeling, but when someone consumes more, alcohol starts to inhibit coordination and judgment and makes people more uninhibited.

Alcohol use can also contribute to problems at work, school, with family or with violence.

Here are a few low-risk drinking guidelines from the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C.:

• Avoid intoxication. Drink slowly, no more than two drinks in the first hour for men of average weight, while women should stick with one. Afterwards, both men and women should consume only one drink per hour. Combine alcohol with food and non-alcoholic beverages.

• Abstain in certain situations, such as when driving, when altertness is important, when using medications or when pregnant, trying to conceive or breast feeding.

• Make sure you have non-drinking days and limit your weekly intake to 20 drinks or fewer for men or 10 drinks or fewer for women.

A standard drink is defined as one 350 ml bottle of beer (five per cent alcohol), one 150 ml glass of table wine (12 per cent alcohol), or one 50 ml standard cocktail (40 per cent alcohol). For help with alcohol problems, contact the Kelowna Alcohol and Drug Service at 250-870-5777.

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Ottawa shouldn’t push off drug abuse problem
June 04, 2008 - Kelowna Capital News - Opinion

Our local MP, Stockwell Day, has used his column this week to inform readers about the rational for the federal government’s appeal of the recent court ruling on Vancouver’s safe injection drug site.

While he claims not to be taking sides in presenting only Health Minister Tony Clement’s response to the ruling, it’s his local example of how to deal with the issue of drug abuse that is troubling.

Day talks about how the issue is being handled in Merritt, which is part of his Okanagan-Coquihalla constituency.

According to Day, the “long arm of the law” is being used, as well as the “open arms of the community.”

The federal Conservative government has done plenty to lengthen that long arm of the law with its get-tough-on-crime legislation proposals.

But what about helping the “open arms of the community.”

In this case it’s time to walk the walk if you’re going to talk the talk.

Where is the funding for local programs that he talks about—he uses the Merritt Youth Mural program as a local example. It may or my not have received federal funds. But many local programs do not.

It seems this is a case of a politician saying the government will do half the job— the rest is someone else’s problem.

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Government to appeal court ruling on safe injection site
June 04, 2008 - Kelowna Capital News - Opinion


Stockwell Day
Drug addicts in Vancouver can shoot up while being supervised in North America’s only facility legalized to do that.

The In-Site facilty operates with a special legal exemption. The debate has been fierce on whether such a policy is a good thing or not.

My column today is not going to get into the debate per se. But I do want to give you, an update on what has occurred this past week.

First, a B.C. judge has ruled that drug addicts have a right to a facility like this.

His ruling came just before the federal government was to make a decision as to whether this activity should continue.

The federal health minister announced this week the government will challenge that ruling with an appeal.

For the purpose of reporting to you, I thought the best thing to do was to quote, verbatim, what Tony Clement said was his reason for challenging the court decision. so you can see the federal rationale—whichever side of the argument you are on.

Here is what Clement said: “In my opinion, supervised injection is not medicine. It does not heal the person addicted to drugs. Injection not only causes physical harm, it also deepens and prolongs the addiction. Programs to support supervised injection divert valuable dollars away from treatment. Government-sponsored injection sends a very mixed message to young people who are contemplating the use of illegal drugs. The evidence is that Insite’s injection program saves, at best, one life per year. A precious life, yes. I believe we can do better and must. (do better). My job as health minister is to balance that one life against any possible negative effect of supervised injection that might take one life elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch right here in our own constituency, a group in Merritt has come up with their own approach to taking preventative and rehabilitive action towards youths with substance abuse issues.

It recognizes there is a local problem with young people getting involved in drugs, gangs and related criminal activity.

When they approached me on the issue I explained the broad government policy on this problem.

We are basically taking a two-pronged approach—the long arm of the law and the open arms of the community.

The long arm of the law means a tougher approach to those committing the crimes and more help for the law-abiding citizens who are the victims of those crimes.

The open arms of the community refers to our belief that local groups and agencies can play a vital role in putting together prevention programs that can intercept kids at risk before they plunge themselves into destructive behaviours.

The Merritt Youth Mural program is such a group.

In a unique way it has joined forces with the Merritt Walk of Stars Society to reach out to vulnerable Aboriginal youth and their families.

In conjunction with educational and occupational counsellors, the Youth Mural project will help up to 60 at-risk young people.

Through a variety of means they will teach the young people about taking responsibility, learning job skills and how to contribute in real and positive ways to the community in which they live.

I was able to assist the group in getting federal funds for the program and I look forward with confidence to the future results of kids turned away from drugs and crime.


•••

While I’m talking about Merritt, I can’t help but tell you of a special award I received at the annual Merritt Country Music Walk of Stars.

I do their fundraising auction for them.

The organizers totally surprised me by getting me to do my handprint in cement to be placed in a star alongside the country music greats who have performed there over the years.

It was a real honour for me.

And since the ‘star’ will be placed on the sidewalk anyone who wants to stomp their feet on me is free to do so.

Stockwell Day is the Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla and Canada’s public safety minister.

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Not a solution, say Conservatives
June 04, 2008 - Kelowna Capital News

Heroin and cocaine addicts are ill and entitled to potentially life-saving medical supervision when they inject illegal drugs, a British Columbia Supreme Court judge decided last week in ruling that a controversial Vancouver safe injection site can remain open.

Judge Ian Pitfield ruled that the country’s Controlled Drug and Substance Act conflicts with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and also provincial jurisdiction over health care.

The decision appeared to give a reprieve to Insite, North America’s only safe injection clinic. Insite’s exemption from the federal drug law was due to expire June 30. Pitfield gave the federal government a year to fix the law so that it no longer conflicts with the principle of medical treatment.

But the federal government is not about to give up its fight to rid the country of the clinic.

Health Minister Tony Clement announced that the government will appeal the ruling. While health experts, including a panel he appointed, have concluded that Insite saves lives, Clement begs to differ.

“In my opinion, supervised injection is not medicine,” he says. “It does not heal the person addicted to drugs.”

The safe injection clinic was first opened in September 2003 as a three-year pilot project to reduce the spread of disease and drug overdoses by giving addicts clean needles and medical supervision.

Since 2006, it has existed on temporary extensions while the government debated what to do.

It now appears the federal government prefers to see Insite as a political football to be kicked out of bounds, to cheers from the core Conservative constituency.

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HEALTH CANADA ON DRUGS

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