January 8, 2001: Last week fifth estate featured a story by B.C. journalist Gloria Macarenko called B.C. Bud. She reported how the R.C.M.P. has cooperated with U.S. authorities to entrap marijuana workers. A pound of B.C. bud is now priced at $6000 U.S. The price of cocaine has gone down. A cocaine dealer, Dennis Dauber was given immunity and paid $440,000 for helping entrap pot exporters.
R.C.M.P. corporal Grant Learned provided phone taps and information about Canadian citizens to U.S. DEA agent who formerly worked on the Mexican border, Tom Farendino. The "cooperation" began after Texas and U.S. Federal authorities threatened to close the Canadian border to normal traffic unless it showed more spunk in the U.S. campaign. B.C. Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh, now premier, was right happy to betray the citizens of B.C. A cannibus cafe which freely operated like those in Amsterdam was shut down. Since the cooperation began there has not been a single cocaine seizure on the B.C. Washington border on the U.S. side. Busts on the Canadian side are the lowest in 7 years. Macarenko said that 15 tons of cocaine come into Canada each year.
We know for certain a fair bit of it is on Saskatoon streets -- on the west side where Brian Dueck is Superintendent. Cocaine has also found its way into the most remote regions of the north.
OFFSITE: Profile of a paid informant, November Coalition's Razor Wire
A Saskatoon company is now the federal government's exclusive marijuana supplier after it was awarded a five-year, $5.75-million contract on Thursday.
Prairie Plant Systems Inc. (PPS) will be expected to supply 185 kilograms of standard marijuana cigarettes and bulk processed marijuana next year, and 420 kilograms per year after that.
The drug will be available to the roughly 140 people who have been granted federal medical exemptions so far. Since June of 1999, the federal government has allowed some people to grow and use marijuana as a treatment for diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Some of the PPS marijuana will also be used in research. PPS will also manufacture the placebo pot needed for the clinical trials.
"We're happy to get it. It's an exciting time for us," PPS president Brent Zettl said.
"It's a landmark in history - the first (contract) in the world of this nature."
The pot will be grown, processed, and packaged several hundred metres underground in an unused portion of a copper mine near Flin Flon, Man. It will then be shipped to Ottawa, where Health Canada will decide who gets how much.
The 80,000-square-foot subterranean operation offers "genetic containment" as well as security, Zettl said.
"There's only one way in and one way out," he said.
Zettl credited the federal government for licensing the production of a drug that was completely illegal just a couple of years ago. Morphine is accepted to have a legitimate medical use, and Zettl hopes marijuana will gain the same status.
"It's a bold step, but they had to in order to bring this drug into the 21st century," he said.
PPS beat out nearly 200 other bidders from across Canada, including 33 finalists.
"They were the ones who met all of the requirements," said Roslyn Tremblay of Health Canada.
Health Canada evaluated the bidders' ability to supply a quality product in a secure environment.
The experience PPS had in growing medicinal plants for human consumption was also a plus, as was the amount of its bid, Tremblay said.
A lab at McGill University will handle the quality control testing.
The evaluation committee included members from the RCMP, Health Canada, the Department of Agriculture, and others.
"Canada is acting compassionately by allowing the use of marijuana by people who are suffering from grave and debilitating illness," federal Health Minister Allan Rock said.
Health Canada announced the competition for the contract in May. Many provincial groups expressed interest, including the Meewasin Valley Authority, Saskatchewan Health and individual farmers.
'What luck for rulers that men do not think." Hitler said it, but Health Minister Allan Rock might have been quietly hymning the words to himself as he tried to justify his government's hitherto fruitless search for a source of "medicinal quality" marijuana.
The high-grade pot is required for clinical trials aimed at measuring the drug's therapeutic qualities.
Where to get the vital raw material? Might it be British Columbia, where a clement climate and native industry have come together to produce a $3-billion to $6-billion underground economy based on the appeal of "B.C. Bud?" Described as the "champagne of marijuana," the B.C. pot -- the result of 30 years of illicit breeding experiments -- is so potent that U.S. gourmets are reputedly willing to pay ten times more for it than the once recherche marijuanas of Mexico.
If you said yes to purchasing B.C. Bud, you clearly don't comprehend the mind of a politician. Buying a substance of which we are apparently a world leader in producing is too simple. Better is pretzel-shaped reasoning that argues: Because growing pot is illegal in Canada, let's just pretend it isn't grown in Canada.
"Acceptable sources of drugs not approved in Canada may be found in countries where they have been approved," Mr. Rock has written about the situation.
And, true to his pledge, his ministry has been sounding out people as far away as England as to whether we can buy high-grade pot from them.
This approach, of course, should guarantee that we buy marijuana at the highest conceivable price. And given the fact that the greatest medical benefit in taking pot is believed to be linked with the highest levels of the chemical that makes people high, if we are really lucky, we can be buying a British plant grown from seeds first bred in British Columbia.
Now if this sounds like the Scots searching for a source of medicinal Scotch in Morocco, and the French looking for a robust Burgandy in Sweden, you may be on to something.
The government's position is so obtuse that one's advice for what to do sounds like a simpleton's suggestion. Mr. Rock, put out a contract on medical marijuana to tender. Guarantee that bidders won't be prosecuted, then watch what a good source of medicinal-quality, cheap, home-grown drug comes rolling in.
And, oh yes, while you're at it, you might just decriminalize Canada's world-famous marijuana in the first place. If you find it politically dicey to announce that in a straight-forward way, why not simply redefine legalization as a "nation-wide experiment designed to measure the long-term effect of the non-medical use of the drug?"
TORONTO (CP) Canadian Press - Getting high on marijuana doesn't hinder the ability to drive nearly as much as drinking alcohol, a University of Toronto study suggests.
While marijuana, like alcohol, impairs performance, people who drive after smoking moderate amounts of pot compensate by driving more slowly and cautiously, said researcher Alison Smiley.
"Their behavior is more appropriate to their impairment, whereas subjects who received alcohol tended to drive in a more risky manner." said Smiley, and adjunct professor in the university's mechanical and industrial engineering department.
But Const. Barry White, who coordinates Toronto's RIDE program, says any amount of marijuana negatively impairs driving ability.
Check out "Billion Dollar Crop" from Australian TV, 1994. Drug laws in Australia are harsher than in Canada, but many people in Canada believe that harsher is the way to go. . .