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Posts from the ‘Drug policy’ Category

Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Yesterday Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) ceased to exist. In its place is a new organization called Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP).

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition was narrow, focused, driven.  Its philosophy and its messaging was well thought out. It had intellectual rigour. It changed how the world viewed the War on Drugs.

Law Enforcement Action Partnership is more broad, tentative, searching. It is brand new. There is potential for it to become more political and less independent. But it could also accomplish great things. Only time will tell.

I am in the process of stepping down from LEAP. I say “in the process” because after eight years as a speaker, and six years as a board member, it is not easy to untangle myself. For the past year and a half, I was also the treasurer of LEAP. This involved a lot of behind the scenes work  and significant responsibility in terms of financial oversight and internal reform of the organization. Inge Fryklund – bless her heart – will now carry on these efforts.

Some of my proudest accomplishments with LEAP: Testifying before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Winning my human rights case. Helping LEAP obtain consultative status with the United Nations. Serving as the founding president of LEAP’s Canadian branch. There were many other great moments but those are a few that stand out.

I’m not against the idea of LEAP evolving. But this next step of the journey was not for me. These days I am more focused on my family, and my career.

My departure from LEAP is also about the need for me to be able to communicate with fierce independence. I have some things to say about the justice system. I don’t want anything I am saying or writing to be misconstrued as the official views of Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

I am grateful to many folks at LEAP for the past eight years. Jack Cole, Peter Christ, Steve Finlay, Neill Franklin, Leigh Maddox, Inge Fryklund, Steve Downing, Terry Nelson, Tony Ryan, Rick Van Wickler, Diane Goldstein, Norm Stamper, Randie Long, Dan Mulligan, John Anderson. Jerry Paradis (rest in peace). The current and past staff of LEAP, including Shaleen Title, Tom Angell, Kristen Daley, Antoinette O’Neil, Bill Fried, Darby Beck, Mikayla Hellwich, Lindsay Akin, Amos Irwin and Roshun Shah. Apologies if I missed anyone. Neil Woods replaced me on the Board of Directors – I am very happy about this and it made my decision to step down much easier.

I learned so much from the thousands of volunteer hours that I dedicated to LEAP.  And I wish the very best for LEAP 2.0 as it moves forward.

Ten interviews and presentations about drugs

Here are a few interviews and presentations about my work with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:

  1. “Groundbreaking” conversation with Halifax police chief Jean-Michel Blais
  2. Interview with the Maui Time newspaper in Hawaii
  3. Senate committee testimony regarding Bill C-15
  4. Senate committee testimony regarding Bill S-10
  5. Essay in the Ottawa Citizen about the Vienna Declaration
  6. Essay in the Vancouver Sun about gang violence
  7. Rethinking Drug Prohibition – a profile in Vancouver Magazine (Paul Webster won the 2013 Stephen Hanson award for this)
  8. Nine minute interview at a 2009 conference organized by Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  9. Three minute interview with CTV news
  10. Interview with Metro News in Halifax

Proposal to ban the sale of drug paraphernalia in Esquimalt

The Township of Esquimalt is considering a bylaw to restrict the sale of drug paraphernalia within three kilometres of a school.  I’m not going to offer my opinion on the draft bylaw right now. That said, I am familiar with Smith v. St. Albert (City), 2012 ABQB 780, a recent decision about a bong store selling drug paraphernalia in Alberta. It shares some similarities with the situation in Esquimalt. If you are looking for a quick summary, read paragraphs 24 to 27:

[24] The practical effect of the bylaw is to preclude the licencing or successful operation of what have become colloquially known as bong or head shops. That is what the Mayor implicitly suggested in his letter of July 22, 2011, to the mayors of the surrounding municipalities.

[25] It is possible that the health and welfare of St. Albert’s citizens may be improved by the effect of the impugned bylaw in the sense that St. Albert residents may not have easy access to some of the tools which may assist their involvement with narcotics, and because of that, they may give up on such involvement. However, I think that indirect effect is quite uncertain.

[26] A further practical effect of the amending bylaw is that the delict addressed by ineffective Criminal Code prohibitions is more effectively addressed by the amending bylaw. The imposition of criminal type consequences is a further tool to enhance effectiveness. Of course, criminal law type penalties are plainly within the authority of the province to enact, for a legitimate and constitutional provincial purpose.

[27] In my view, in legal effect and in practical effect, the impugned bylaw is about criminal law, a power which is plainly beyond the competence of the municipality. Therefore, both in terms of purpose and in terms of effect, the amending bylaw is legislation in relation to criminal law. As such it is ultra vires the municipality and must be struck down.

Canadian journalism award goes to author who profiled LEAP

The Canadian Bar Association, with 37,000 members, has given its 2013 Stephen Hanson print award to Paul Webster. The award is for excellence in legal reporting.

The winning article, entitled “The War on the War on Drugs,” featured Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and Stop The Violence BC.

Thank you to long-time LEAP volunteer Steve Finlay, as well as Dr. Evan Wood and his amazing team, for their collective efforts in support of this article. Finally, congratulations to journalist Paul Webster, who pursued this important story with determination and integrity.

On drug kingpins…

A former Baltimore police officer, Peter Moskos, has an interesting series of posts on his blog about drug kingpins. The posts are not so much about kingpins themselves. Rather, he focuses on the rhetoric that some governments and law enforcement agencies use in their public announcements about these cases.