Overcrowding in Saskatchewan's jail could go from bad to worse when a federal crime bill takes effect, according to the provincial ombudsman.
Kevin Fenwick's latest annual report, released Monday, warns that the ongoing problem of crowded jails is likely to deteriorate further.
The crime bill, which passed a final vote in the House of Commons on March 12, includes mandatory jail sentences for certain crimes.
Critics of the bill have argued that mandatory minimum sentences will burden Canada's prison and court systems.
"Correctional centres in Saskatchewan already house almost twice as many inmates as they were designed for," Fenwick's report states in part. Read more »
By: Richard J. Brennan, The Star
All the tough talk in the world from the Harper government won’t put a dent in B.C.’s often violent marijuana trade, a Vancouver city councillor says.
The comment from Councillor Kerry Jang, a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, comes on the heels of a letter from eight B.C. mayors urging the provincial government to use its powers to regulate and tax marijuana.
“Marijuana has actually become more available and there’s more crime than there ever has been because of that approach … federal policies have failed British Columbia,” Jang told the Toronto Star. Read more »
BY BENJAMIN ALLDRITT, NORTH SHORE NEWS
MARIJUANA prohibition has "failed miserably," says the City of North Vancouver's council, who voted unanimously Monday to call for decriminalization and regulation of the drug.
"It's an issue whose time has come," said Coun. Rod Clark. "It's a fundamental question for our society. It's now time to embrace a science-based solution, one that recognizes the failures of prohibition and the restrictions of the past."
The vote followed an extensive presentation from Dr. Evan Wood, a practising St. Paul's Hospital physician as well a professor and researcher at the UBC faculty of medicine. He was invited to council to represent the Stop the Violence B.C. coalition. Read more »
Editorial, The Globe and Mail
As debate about the failure of the drug war gains momentum, nobody is expecting a sudden ceasefire between cartels and police. It is far too complex and diffuse a problem. Instead, small battles will be won city by city, neighbourhood by neighbourhood. One striking success is Vancouver’s InSite program, North America’s only supervised-injection site.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to close the clinic, and would have if the Supreme Court of Canada hadn’t intervened. The court approved the clinic because of the specific conditions that gave rise to it, including the concentration of drug addicts in the impoverished Downtown Eastside neighbourhood and the high rates of disease and overdose. Read more »
The Canadian Press
Mayors from eight B.C. communities have added their voices to calls to the provincial government to regulate and tax marijuana as part of a strategy to end gang violence and make communities safer.
Mayors from Vancouver, Burnaby, North Vancouver City, Vernon, Armstrong, Enderby, Lake Country and Metchosin made the argument in an April 26 letter to B.C.'s premier, Opposition NDP leader and B.C. Conservative Party leader.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson was unavailable for comment Thursday, but Coun. Kerry Jang, who is also professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, said the current federal laws have failed.
Jang said the laws have led to increased organized crime, policing costs and the presence of grow-ops. Read more »
BY ROCHELLE BAKER, THE TIMES
Numbers in an upcoming Fraser Health report for the City of Abbotsford around injection drug use show relatively high rates of overdose hospitalizations, deaths and hepatitis C rates within the community.
And those rates may be tied to the city's lack of harm reduction services, says a Fraser Health expert.
Abbotsford was second only to New Westminster for the rate of people admitted to hospital because of illegal drug overdoses in a comparison that included Surrey and Burnaby.
Between 2006/07 and 2010/11, New Westminster's overdose hospital admission rate was 23.6 per 100,000 people. Read more »
BY DAN MACLENNAN, CAMPBELL RIVER COURIER-ISLANDER; WITH FILES FROM GLACIER NEWS SERVICE
Vancouver Island municipal politicians, including Campbell River's representative, are urging the federal government to decriminalize marijuana, a move they say would reduce crime and create additional revenue.
Delegates at the annual conference for the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities sent a clear message on April 14 by supporting a resolution that calls on Ottawa to change its laws. Read more »
By: Kevin Allerston, Northern News Services
Kim MacNearney is on a mission to let people know about the benefits of medical marijuana.
Since 2010 she has been legally licensed to smoke pot to help her deal with debilitating back pain, the result of two compressed discs in her spine.
On Friday, she decided to make her views about marijuana known to the public and headed to Franklin Avenue with a sign reading "Marijuana is a plant, not a poison" on one side and "cannabis cures, not kills" on the other.
"As far as I'm concerned, marijuana is a plant, not a poison and I feel the whole regime against marijuana has to be re-evaluated," said MacNearney. Read more »
BY CASSIDY OLIVIER, THE PROVINCE
In an ideal world, Jacob Hunter, the organizer of the wildly popular 420 pot festival in Vancouver, wouldn’t have to worry about underage kids toking up at the annual, adult-oriented bake-in.
But according to estimates, about 10 to 20 per cent of the thousands of marijuana enthusiasts who gather in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery every April 20 for a spliff or two are minors. And Hunter admits he finds those numbers concerning and isn’t exactly sure what to do about it.
While he says the law — as well as cost and logistics — prevents him from throwing up fencing around a public space and checking IDs, he thinks an age limit on use at the festival could be the solution. Read more »
By Kate Webb, Metro Vancouver
One of the world’s most respected authorities on humanitarian crises has commended local policy makers, health and law experts for challenging the war on drugs.
Louise Arbour, former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and chief prosecutor for two international criminal tribunals, made the comments Monday at a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel.
“I’m delighted to see that this important debate is increasingly taking place, and I’m even happier to see that some of the very progressive work in this field is taking place here in Vancouver,” Arbour said. Read more »