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Pot Smoking 101

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Although smoking marijuana is illegal, Campus Security and the Saanich
Police turn a blind eye when the Hempology 101 Club meets at 4:20 p.m.
every Wednesday and clouds of smoke rise over Petch Fountain.

"It is not on our radar. We have much bigger problems to deal with: sexual
assaults, violence and rapes," said Hunter McDonald, Director of Campus
Security. "If you look at the problems we have, they don't involve kids
smoking dope at the fountain."

Chris Horsley, media relations officer for the Saanich Police, said, "The
police department is still very concerned with drug use on campus."
Nevertheless, marijuana use on and off campus is something Horsley believes
has not had a lot of police attention in the last few years. "The police
have to look at the bigger issues of public safety and public harm," said

"Just because the police aren't showing up every week doesn't mean we are
agreeing to what is happening," Horsley added.

Campus Security and the Saanich Police did, however, collaborate in
November 2000 to arrest the founder of Hempology 101, Ted Smith, for
trafficking marijuana at the weekly 4:20 circle. Horsley said that at the
time marijuana was a more prominent issue than it is now.

Smith's arrest was the last arrest involving the 4:20 club on campus.

But according to Horsley, 4:20 club participants are not exempt from
marijuana-related charges. "They thought they were acting with immunity
back then," he said about Smith's arrest. "[But] we've dealt with this
group before, and there's nothing that says we won't deal with it again."

Campus Security and the Saanich Police do not treat all marijuana-related
crimes equally. "If we see it, we'll confiscate and flush it. If we see
someone selling it we might take a stronger approach and call the police,"
said McDonald. "[Also] if someone is stoned and creates a disturbance,
intimidates, harasses or bullies, then it's a different ball game." He also
said that Campus Security has never busted anyone for straight possession.

Horsley said that the police still act on the premise that possession of
marijuana is illegal and an offense fit for the courts. He said that
changing laws in Canada have confused some about the legal consequences of
possession: possession is now considered a summary conviction offensive
(what is called a misdemeanor in the U.S.), which means those convicted
will not have a criminal record, but those charged will still go to court.

"The police have the same power to arrest as they did before. It's just
that the consequences have changed for the people charged, but it hasn't
changed the method of operation," Horsley said.

Even though police seem to be just as willing to charge people with
marijuana-related offenses as before the legislation changes were proposed,
no charges have been laid on campus since Smith's arrest. Horsley says that
they rely on members of the public to direct police resources and that
currently the Street Crime and Drug Unit are dedicated to combating
street-level drug dealing.

McDonald said that marijuana-related offenses have not been discussed
between Campus Security and Saanich Police since the arrest of Smith. "We
made our point by charging him," said McDonald. Now McDonald says that
Campus Security is waiting until the judicial system decides on Smith's
case before looking at future marijuana enforcement strategies.

Long-time Hempology 101 member Tyler MacDonald thinks that the lack of
enforcement of the 4:20 club since Smith's arrest is because officials
don't want another reason for "UVic students to hate them."

But according to Hunter McDonald, popularity is not a factor. "Honesty and
justice are more important than the reputation of the university," he said.
"We've had no pressure from the university for us not to do anything, [but]
if I did bust them, it would only bring them more popularity."

Ted Smith thinks discreet monitoring may be taking place. He said, "I
suspect that there have [recently] been undercover cops coming to watch
occasionally because it was undercover surveillance that arrested me."

Horsley said that there is a "strong likelihood" that Smith is correct. In
contrast, McDonald says, "[Campus Security is] not doing surveillance.

We already know they're there."

Pubdate: Thu, 20 Nov 2003
Source: Martlet (CN BC Edu)
Copyright: 2003 Martlet Publishing Society
Contact: martlet@uvic.ca
Website: The Martlet —