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Newshawk: Frank Discussion
Pubdate: Thu, 30 Aug 2001
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2001 The Toronto Star


Instead, Law Enforcement Is Concentrating On Those Who Sell The Drugs

QUEBEC ( CP ) -- Police have practically given up trying to arrest pot smokers and are focusing on the organized criminals who profit from drugs, the head of the Canadian Police Association said today.

"In real terms, the police in this country don't spend resources or time or energy focused on the individual who has one or two joints in his pocket," association president Grant Obst said in an interview.

Possession of small quantities "has already been decriminalized" because it was changed to a summary offence four years ago under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, Obst said.

Small-time pot smokers don't have their fingerprints taken and don't have official criminal records anymore, said Obst, a vice officer in Saskatoon.

However, the police association is against further decriminalization because it sends the message that marijuana is OK, he added.

The association is holding its annual meeting this week in Quebec City.

Obst also said officers who spot someone smoking marijuana in public would order the joint to be destroyed and then walk away half the time.

In other cases, the pot smoker would be ordered to appear in court but later would be forced to perform community service instead of standing trial.

Tory Leader Joe Clark and the Association of Canadian Police Chiefs have recently called for looser pot laws.

Obst said he would prefer setting his targets on biker gangs, the Mafia and pimps -- those who profit from crime.

However, police budgets have dwindled and cash-strapped forces don't have the manpower to fight organized crime, the association says.

"The only problem the Hells Angels have is what to do with all their money," Obst said. 

MAP posted-by: Beth

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