CANNABIS CULTURE – Former Police Chief and current BC Liberal MLA Kash Heed has called out his party’s own Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Shirley Bond, about enforcement of marijuana laws in the province, calling her comments “destructive” and “quite disturbing.”
Bond, in a statement made to Cannabis Culture about the Sensible BC campaign to decriminalize marijuana, claimed the federal government is ultimately responsible for making and changing the province’s pot laws.
“Police are constitutionally required to enforce the rule of law,” Bond told CC. “Until and unless Canadian law is changed, the production, sale and use of marijuana is currently illegal (controlled federal legislation), and our police have a responsibility to enforce criminal laws for the good of all British Columbians.”
Heed, the Liberal MLA for Vancouver – Fraserview, former chief constable of the West Vancouver Police Department, and former superintendent with the Vancouver Police Department, said he disagrees with Bond and that it is actually the province that is ultimately responsible for enforcing the laws.
“The Administration of justice here in the province of British Columbia is controlled by the provincial government,” Heed told Cannabis Culture at a marijuana legalization panel at Simon Fraser University on January 17. “We control the court system, we control the law enforcement and all of that stuff. I’ve taken a different position than the Minister previously, and I’ll take a different position here.”
“When we have people making those destructive comments and trying to influence people, I find that quite disturbing,” Heed said in reference to Bond’s statement. “We have to be realistic, practical; we have to understand discretion will continue to be applied by not only police, but prosecutors, judges, and even correction officials.
“Discretion is inherent in all of our criminal justice system. I, as a police officer, exercised my appropriate discretion continually, prosecutors did, and judges certainly did. If we did not exercise that discretion and went by the rule of law, I can tell you one thing: the whole system would collapse. When you look at the amount of criminal charges that get processed, only 10% of them actually go to trial.”
Watch the video from the Legalizing BC Bud? Politics, Economics and Public Health panel at SFU (comments about Bond’s statement start at 43:05):
The Sensible BC ballot initiative campaign would, if successful, effectively decriminalize possession by adults of an ounce or less of marijuana by provincially de-funding police enforcement. The initiative has been approved by Elections BC and supporters hope it will be on the ballot in 2014.
Four former BC attorneys-general spoke out last year in support of marijuana decriminalization and penned a letter published in the Globe and Mail on January 18 calling for an end to the “burden imposed on BC’s policing and justice system by the enforcement of marijuana prohibition.”
“Now it is time to put ideology and politics aside in favour of a level-headed, evidence-based discussion about the failure of marijuana prohibition and the policy alternatives available to us,” write the former AGs. “Provincial and municipal leaders across Canada must join, if not lead, the debate and demand change. Only then will we end the prohibition-fuelled cycle of crime, waste and violence.
Statistics show marijuana possession arrests on the rise in British Columbia, doubling over the last decade.