The True North Strong and Pot Free —– Not

Written by Harold McNeill on December 20th, 2013. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


 The True North Strong and Pot Free —– Not
Vancouver, April 20, 2012. 
Over 20,000 people, the largest crowd to date, attended the Four Twenty Protest.
At 4:20 pm (precisely), a sweet smelling cloud lazily drifted over the Library and across downtown Vancouver.
Twenty thousand people just had a group toke.

It has long since been ordained that the ubiquitous Mary Jane would one day become, if not legal, at the very least a controlled substance sold in Government style Liquor Stores. Marihuana grow ops will be popping up across the country like dandelions on a newly planted lawn. Now that a few States in that bastion of extreme conservatism south of the border have begun to decriminalize the substance, can the Province of British Columbia’s five billion (that’s right five, with nine zeros) pot growing industry, be far behind? For BC  this is not a trivial amount of untaxed ‘free enterprise’ money by any count.

Seeing an opportunity in this trend, Medbox Inc., a U.S. based company, is set to introduce into Canada, automatic Pot Vending Machines (PVMs) for use by those licenced to toke as permitted under the Canada Health Act (link to story).  Apparently the PVMs provide easy and secure 24 hour access. Imagine, pot on demand at your nearest 7-11. It was also reported the RCMP is looking at installing machines in their remote detachments (link). City members, of course, will be able to pop by the nearest 7-11.

For thirty years I toiled away in law enforcement that spent, and continues to spend, billions chasing down pot distributors, smokers and other soft drug users who had first infiltrated our Universities and High Schools back in the seventies and eighties. Today, we have a nation filled with middle-aged leaders who grew up savouring the flavour and the mild high that came from the pungent smoke, not to mention that induced by the TCH laced brownies.

Just think how much better our nation would be today if my comrades and I had been more successful in arresting, charging, convicting obpd officer and hippie copyand locking up all those misguided young people who dared surf against the wind? I can still see the headline in The Martlet, the University of Victoria Student Union Magazine, after the Oak Bay PD began to seriously enforce that particular “no smoking” ban.

Cartoon, Circa, November, 1968:  Chief John Green, a retired Army Regimental Sergeant Major, scans the Oak Bay Drug Enforcement Manual as he searches for strategies to bring some semblance of Law and Order back to the University of Victoria Campus.

Not many weeks after the pot enforcement brigade implemented the strategy, a headline in the Martlet screamed (in eighteen point bold letters): “Oak Bay of Pigs” a reference to our Department.

The editorial, written by a second year Law School student, Jeff Green, who has since become one of Victoria’s and British Columbia’s, leading defence lawyers, spoke to the disconnect between the students and police (I).

If government legislators and police enforcers forty years ago had been as diligent as were our neighbors to the south, there is a good possibility that particular lawyer as well as many other current leaders in government, business and industry, would today be guests of the state rather than professionals who have helped to build Canada over the past forty years.  Of course, of those who have since admitted testing the product, many stated, as did former President Bill Clinton a few years back — they did not inhale.

Given their druthers, I’m sure the Conservatives seriously regret not having had the opportunity to commence their War on Drugs and Crime thirty or forty years earlier as did the Republican and their supporters, the Moral Majority in the United States. Had that happened, the Conservatives in Canada might well have succeeded in eliminating more than a few of the high profile challengers facing them down today.

There would, of course, be other upsides to all those convictions, one being ‘domestic tourism’. Tagging thousands of young people with criminal records would have largely precluded them from international travel, particularly to the United States. No trotting off to California, Florida or Hawaii for a winter break. Such a travel restriction would have been great news for that bit of heaven we call Southern Vancouver Island, as all those ‘criminal record holding snowbirds’ made their way to the warmest place in the world to which they could travel without restriction.

Today, the pungent odour of pot wafting across our lawns and beaches, as well as at outdoor musical events, is the norm. The only thing keeping the sweet smell from indoor events is the strict “No Smoking” policy in effect in most cities. Is it not ironic that a simple bylaw has accomplished that which the Criminal Code could not?

It’s ‘high time’ that Stephen, Peter and the rest of the Conservative ‘Law and Order’ types gave up their pursuit of a pot free Canada – it’s not going to happen. Just bite the bullet boys (and a sprinkling of girls), do as you did with the gun registry – trash those stupid laws, then take a few weeks to build some reasonable constraints around a substance that has given solace to so many for so long.

The next thing you know you will be trying to push the prostitutes into the back alleys and, as for the hundreds of thousands of ‘perverts’, ‘perpetrators’  and other bottom feeders who purchase the service, I am sure you will find new ways to ‘name, shame, blame’ and lock them up forever (recent update). If you can just hold on to that majority for another few years, we could become the first nation in history to rescue all those woman by locking up every potential client. Perhaps this is all doable, but it is certainly going to take piles and piles of money and mean hiring thousands more police to enforce the law. I know it would have been simpler to just bring back stoning, but I guess you understood the Supreme Court would never stand for that.

Harold McNeill

(I) Later in life that young man became a very capable adversary with whom I often crossed swords as he worked his magic in court. Our most memorable dual was during a Drug Conspiracy trial (Humphries, et al vs the Crown). That little interlude almost derailed Lynn and I leaving to get married in Alberta in 1984. The case, which unfolded across Western Canada, has yet to be written.  In any event, that idealistic, energetic, outspoken young man (well not so young anymore), now posts “QC” after his name.


Further Reading on this blog:   Crime and Punishment: Ideology Trumps Reason



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  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

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    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

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