Newshawk: Blaine Dowdle - HUMAN
Pubdate: Friday, March 5, 2004
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Author: Betsy Powell
Growing pot war focus of summits
One aims at co-ordinated strategy
The other ridicules the effort
Heavy hitters in law enforcemant, government, banking, real estate, insurance
and public utilities are participating in a two-day "Green-Tide Summit" to find
ways to combat the explosion of indoor marijuana grow operations in Ontario.
Down the street a shadow summit called the "Green Truth Summit," was taking
place yesterday comprised of a small group of marijuana advocates who were also
setting strategies to fight what they call the "destructive" and ultimately
futile attempts to stamp out marijuana grow operations.
Billed as the first summit of its kind in the province, the Ontario Association
of Chiefs of Police summit is the initial step in developing a co-ordinated
action plan to fight a war against illegal grow-ops that police clearly have no
hope of winning on their own, said Monte Kwinter, the minister of community
safety and correctional services.
The summit, held at provincial government offices near Queen's Park, was open to
the media for the first hour. It began with several "overviews" of marijuana
grow operations in Ontario, including a slide show accompanied by the ominous
theme music from the movie Pearl Harbor.
Opening remarks by Kwinter and police stressed the theme that law enforcement
agencies need private-sector help to eliminate grow-ops. "This is a community
problem that can be addressed only if we pool our talents and resources and work
together," Kwinter said.
Outside the conference room, he didn't specify what role banking, real estate
and the insurance industry could play in combatting grow-ops.
Kwinter was pressed to explain how he can favour the federal Liberals' promise
to eliminate criminal records for those caught with small quantities of
marijuana while calling for the elimination of indoor grow-ops.
"This product (from grow-ops) is not being used in Canada," Kwinter told
reporters. "There is marijuana grown in the fields. Thar growth is being used
for domestic use."
New Democrat MPP Peter Kormos, who attended both summits, said Kwinter and the
organizers of the Green Tide Summit are missing the point that prohibition of
marijuana is what fuels the grow-ops. "It's the huge profits in marijuana that
draws organized crime to marijuana cultivation. This conference ... should call
on the federal government to legalize marijuana, one of the most popular
intoxicants in North America, regulate it, tax it and control its distribution
and that would get organized crime out of the picture."
In the afternoon session accross the street at the Green Truth Summit, Vancouver
pot activist Marc Emery, who obtained media credentials to the Green Tide Summit
as an editor of Cannabis Culture magazine, took delight in recounting the
presentations he had seen earlier, referring to the many "exaggerations and
"Everything they're advocating is more of the poison we have got today," he
said. "This summit is here just to make sure the information about what's really
going on gets out."
Discuss this article in our Forum.
Read more articles from our Archives