Pubdate: Thu, 16 Sep 2004
Source: Westender (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 WestEnder
Author: Paul K. Jamieson
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


The issue of illegal drugs in Vancouver took on a surreal tinge [last week] 
when dozens of police, many dressed in black ski-masks, stormed the Da Kine 
cannabis cafe on Vancouver's Euro-beat-trendy Commercial Drive. The cafe 
had been openly selling cannabis to patrons since opening its doors four 
months ago, but for whatever reason, had not attracted the attention of the 

This situation changed just over a week ago when the story erupted into a 
full-scale tempest after local CTV affiliate aired a broadcast of the Da 
Kine cafe. B.C.'s senior law enforcement officer, Solicitor-General Rich 
Coleman subsequently appeared on television chastising Vancouverites for 
not learning the lesson of the Downtown Eastside. Mr. Coleman's corollary 
was this: Cannabis cafes lead directly to the corner of Main and Hastings 
with your teeth rotting out of your head, giving hand-jobs for crack.

The Downtown Eastside is an area only a dozen blocks in size. Mostly 
dilapidated turn-of-the century walk-ups and pawn-shops. It is Canada's 
poorest neighbourhood with the highest HIV infection rate in the world, 
according to some. The streets of the Downtown Eastside are literally 
crawling with the victims of crack cocaine, heroin, and meth-amphetamine 

The City, in an enlightened move, opened a licensed Safe Injection Site 
several months ago to provide addicts with a clean environment to use their 
drugs. The VPD, which has its massive Stalinesque headquarters right in the 
heart of the Downtown Eastside has done nothing to stop the flow of hard 
narcotics into the Downtown Eastside over the past 15 years.

In an ongoing scandal of horrific proportions, more than 100 female 
sex-workers have disappeared from the streets of the Downtown Eastside over 
the past decade, many [allegedly meeting their fate in a suburban area 
pig-farm]. This unimaginably evil and wicked crime spree went 
uninvestigated by the VPD for years. When Mr. Coleman castigated 
Vancouverites for not "visiting" the area to see for themselves the effects 
of drugs, he was attempting to link a small cannabis cafe with the outright 
shame and horror of the missing women.

The comparison is despicable. The Downtown Eastside is like something out 
of an Hieronymus Bosch painting. The stench of urine and human feces. 
Staggering addicts weaving across Hastings Street. Crack addicts bent over 
the sidewalk [in search of] dropped crack-balls. Gangs of drug-dealers on 
every corner. Smashed windows. Graffiti. Complete human misery.

The massive raid on Da Kine brought Commercial Drive to a standstill. Area 
residents flocked to the police barricades to demand the reason why Da Kine 
was being raided.

The local media were out in full force, accommodated by the police, to a 
fenced-in pen where the TV cameras could capture the moment by moment 
action. Meanwhile, in the alley out back of Da Kine the police were 
whisking both customers and staff of Da Kine away in wagons.

One local broadcaster aired a "stand-up" from a reporter who said, "Local 
residents agreed with the police action, but those here at the barricades 
expressed a different view."

That is flat out false. I'm an area resident. I didn't even know Da Kine 
was there, or what it did, or much less care.

I live on Commercial Drive. Over the past three years I have endured the 
drug-dealers who have taken up shop on my block. I have called the police 
dozens of times to try to get rid of the dealers.I'm weary of negotiating 
between knots of young thugs whispering, "Bud bud" as I go about my life.

I spoke with the local CTV journalist who broke the story just over a week 
ago. I was angry at him for having created this whole fiasco. He explained 
tome that the owner of Da Kine had invited him into the store. His take on 
the situation was that the owners of Da Kine were trying to make this into 
a public issue.

Mission accomplished.

As I went home I passed the usual drug-dealers who work my block, and I 
felt safe in the knowledge that unless you publicly confess your criminal 
activity, preferably on television, the police will never catch you.
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D