Pubdate: Tue, 15 Aug 2006
Source: Nelson Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Nelson Daily News
Note: The newspaper does not have an active website.
Author: Alan Middlemiss
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)
Note: "I was to clarify..." Typed the way it appears in the hard copy.


To the Editor:

I wish to comment on the latest efforts by Nelson City Police to rid 
Nelson of cannabis and Holy Smoke.

First of all I want to go on record as stating I am disappointed with 
the priorities of the police in regards to the targeting Holy Smoke. 
Sgt. Steve Banks claims that only he, his partner and the chief, 
(whom orchestrated the failed 1997 raid on Holy Smoke) were in on 
"operation vista."  He also claims that it is not political.

Then another officer, who was apparently not involved in any way 
states that the bust is more about targeting the individual than the 
quantities allegedly found.  The only business mentioned by name is 
Holy Smoke and the only person, Paul DeFelice, yet Sgt. Banks claims 
that there is no targeting of that business.

He goes on to utter some fairly intense threats to Holy Smoke, it's 
employees, customers or anyone visiting the store.  Even though we 
have not been convicted of any crime he clearly states that the 
police will raid the store again if "they continue to carry on business."

I was to clarify that we are a licensed business in Nelson.  Is this 
a case of presumed guilt frontier justice?  The police battle cry "we 
are watching" and then several references to "watching" Holy Smoke 
indicating to the discerning reader that they are busy and cannot be 
watching violent criminals, pedophiles, grave desecraters, rapists or 
property criminals.

Sgt. Bank also goes on to state that Holy Smoke and indeed the pot 
culture has no support in this community. This is categorically false 
and I remind Sgt Bank that he cannot in good faith claim to be 
spokesperson for this community, anymore than I can.

I also have an important warning of my own for the good citizens of 
the Nelson area.  Until the laws are changed if you, pass, trade, or 
give a cannabis seed, flower or joint you are trafficking marijuana. 
There is no differentiation in the law whatsoever between politely 
refusing a toke and passing it to the next person and selling it. 
Marc Emery was given 90 days for passing a joint in Saskatoon.  How 
many locals have trafficked in marijuana under the current legal 
definition?  Do you now see why we are working towards sensible marijuana law?

Local authorities support the Tories plan to scrap all 
decriminalization initiatives and double the penalties for 
trafficking and growing cannabis.  They even support mandatory 
minimums for pot crimes and the scrapping of the Medical Marijuana Program.

Even if you are against marijuana, you can see that it is better to 
prioritize, regulate and tax it, so the police can get on with the 
job of pursuing violent criminals, while monies saved can be used to 
hire health care workers who are better suited to dealing with drug 
related problems.

Alan Middlemiss

Holy Smoke Culture Shop
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman