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Sunday, March 06, 2005

This is serious 

Four RCMP officers have been killed executing a raid on a farmhouse in Alberta. Because the raid was conducted on the basis of a warrant to search for marijuana, it is inevitably being linked to the war on drugs. This was particularly apparent in the early reporting (and this first message inevitably stays in people's heads, a la "Saddam Hussein personally ordered 9/11"), although it's still being reported in this way by the NYT:

On Thursday, four officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were shot to death in Alberta, British Columbia's neighboring province, as they were searching a marijuana-growing operation, one of many on the rise there. The killings stunned a country that has apparently not lost that many officers at once since the mid-19th century.

Leigh H. Winchell, special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle, which investigates border crimes and is part of the Department of Homeland Security, said the police killings in Alberta were stark evidence of "how serious the B.C. bud issue is getting, how much money is involved and the lengths to which these criminals are willing to go to protect it."

Right, so "BC bud" is just a synonym for marijuana growing anywhere in Canada, and in fact for Canada's "lax" drug laws more generally then? Dicks, you think America would have more to worry about than BC bud, like this guy for example. Yes, I am one of those citizens and taxpayers who likes to ask how many murderers and rapists go free because law enforcement resources are devoted to the war on drugs, and the prohibition of cannabis in particular.

Anyway, American reaction is essentially irrelevant here. Thus far, the link to marijuana in this case is tentative at best ... or, rather, it appears to be barely related to the actual offending. The shooter, now dead by either his own bullet or one of the police's, was known to police for being one of those guys with an unnatural love for guns, including the automatic type that are especially effective in killing sprees (and note how the first reaction of the media is to link this event to marijuana, not the issue of gun control). The police officers weren't killed by this idiot, a convicted dirty ped*phile, throwing joints in their direction.

The chain of events seems to have gone something like this: farmer purchases Ford truck on finance; farmer stops making payments on Ford truck and finance company sends in the baliff to repossess it; baliff is denied access to property as farmer - who has shot at trespassers in the past - releases his dogs; baliff re-enters with RCMP and sees several new trucks have been dismantled and the grand total of "about 20" mature marijuana plants; the RCMP gain a warrant to enter the property on the grounds that marijuana is being grown there; they enter a barn-like structure on the property and are shot.

Apart from the police using the presence of marijuana as a pretext for gaining a warrant to investigate other issues (nothing new there), I would venture to suggest this is not really about marijuana at all. Unfortuntely there will always be those who cannot appreciate such nuances, including the dastardly Anne "Queen Rat" McLellan, whose first reaction, it seems, was to propose "tougher sentences" for marijuana growers. Four police are dead and that's the best you can do? Perhaps you should emigrate to New Zealand and join United Future.

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