Sunday, November 16, 2003


I caught up with Michael and Irma this weekend. They fed me the best shrimp jambalya I've ever had last night and in appreciation, I took them on a road trip to Millers to the Rt 63 Roadhouse today.

When I was little we used to take Sunday drives. My Dad would pile us in the car, no matter what the weather, and we would drive into the country and see what we could see. He always found something fun to do along the way.

Today felt like that, we left remarkably early and the air was gray and smelled of snow but as we made our way the wind turned and the sun broke below the cloud cover and we had a magical journey into Franklin County - not to mention a lovely visit with Jamie and Carol.

It was a good day to celebrate Michael's induction as an official inhabitant of lovely downtown Noho. Mike has been coming here to see Irma every weekend for the last two and half years, ever since I helped to get them together. It took him a year and half to learn how to negotiate the two blocks to Thornes.

This weekend however, he found his way - all by himself - to the Student Union at Smith College. Not only that, on the way home he detoured to Serios and still found his way back home. He was pretty proud of himself, but no prouder than we were of him. We were amazed he found the college campus much less the room where the sale was. And he came home with a prize.

I called him at 1:00. I just happened to look at the local listings for the first time in weeks and saw a fundraiser for the Smith radio station that ended at 4:30. They were selling vinyl records. He collects them. He called me at 5:00 to thank me for the tip. He found three albums he wanted and they cost twenty cents a piece. He usually pays sixty dollars for three. The line in the story that really made me laugh though, (sorry, only the Valley readers will get this joke) was when he said, "I knew it was past Faces"....


So having frittered away the afternoon celebrating this milestone I still don't have a condensed narrative on the conference for you. In fact it occurs to me that it could take a very long time to tell this story since it seems it will take three tries to finish telling you about my conversation with Howard Wooldrige and that happened at the opening reception.

It's a funny thing. I'm from the 60s, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would feel so warmly about a cop but I really admire this man. I think he is extraordinarily brave to give up the good will of his brotherhood in order to speak out against what he saw as wrong in the system. And yet he defends the profession of law enforcement and his brethen who now avoid him.

We discussed the press focus on police corruption. He was genuinely concerned that sensationalizing these stories would adversely impact the work of honest officers. He noted the danger in creating a adversarial atmosphere between the citizenry and law enforcement professionals is counter-productive to the movement.

It's a point well taken. I don't think we can ignore the corruption but I also want to say that I believe most cops are decent human beings who joined the force out of a desire to contribute to the public safety. I know my local PD contributes greatly to the quality of life here and thanks to any of them that are reading our little blog.

Howard did check the blog out by the way and it appears I have to issue yet another correction this week. He actually did smoke the herb up until two weeks before he entered the police academy so he does know what he's fighting for.


All that being said, the corruption continues among those less honorable within the criminal justice system and cannot be left unremarked.

The 'shooting ducks in a barrel' busts of cancer patients growing small amounts to alleviate their suffering is inexcusable and contributes nothing to the elimination of major drug cartels.

Carter Singleton, who had a clean record except for two speeding tickets, was circumventing the black market delivery system by growing his own medicine.

He thus avoided buying on the street and contributing to the criminal market. He is dying of a terminal disease.

Carter says he was weak and lost 80 pounds in five months from cancer when he followed a friend’s advice to smoke marijuana, which helped him get back his appetite and gain weight.

Do you think your tax dollars are being well spent on arresting and imprisioning this man? Keep in mind it costs about $100,000 a year to take him out of his home and keep him in a cage for growing a plant.

He now is awaiting trial on a felony charge of growing marijuana — which he admits he grew in his basement for personal use. If convicted, the 65-year-old could go to prison for one to five years or be placed on probation.

Call me strident, but I call this irresponsible law enforcement against responsible consumption.

* * * * *

Then there's trickery. I held this article because it rankled in the same way as the last one. This bust could only further diminish any sense of civility left on the streets by taking advantage of this guy's inherent sympathy for someone apparently less fortunate.

As reported in, a Toronto police officer talked man into drug deal.

A judge has thrown out trafficking charges against a defendant who was arrested when he agreed to purchase $20 in crack cocaine for a man in a wheelchair who was actually an undercover Toronto police officer.

Fareed Ahamad, 41, was charged with trafficking in November, 2001, even though the drug transaction was not his idea, he did not make any money and he believed he was helping a disabled man who appeared to be in pain.

To the cop's credit however, he did 'fess up in court.

Mr. Ahamad's lawyer, David Berg, praised Const. O'Driscoll for admitting during the trial that he initiated the drug transaction. The officer also testified that at one point in the evening, his wheelchair was stuck in the streetcar tracks and he was unsure of how to extricate himself without blowing his cover.

Sure sounds like a lot of trouble for a $20 bust to me. The money they spent on this trial could have paid for at least one crack addict's treatment program.


We can't deny that a drug problem exists on our planet. There are people who abuse drugs but we shouldn't punish an entire class of responsible users for the sins of the uncontrolled any more than we should hold the entire police force accountable for the sins of their corrupt members.

We do however, need to consider how to best spend our finite resources on this infinite problem. Last word on this train of thought goes to Tim Meehan of OSARC, from a recently published piece.

It's time to stop listening to special interests like the police unions, ill-informed MPs bent on scoring political points and the United States, who we now know fight wars, be it drug or conventional, based on lies. It's time to legalize, regulate and gently tax marijuana.

It's also time for closet cannabis consumers - and there are many in Scarborough - to speak out for our community and put an end to the violence that organized crime brings to underground markets. More police resources and more intrusions of privacy are not the answer. A half-hearted decriminalization bill that makes it easier to bust people isn't either.

Personal consumption of this plant should not be a criminal act but it won't become acceptable until respectable citizens step forward and admit they have been using it responsibly.


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