(please note: it's been a hectic week and I was unable to put together a new blog post so I'm reposting something that was on my personal blog last year. I did a reading at the public library last year and many of the people there had great questions. One man said that he found my books made the crime situation look a little hopeless and asked if I had any ideas to cut down on crime in Toronto. I said, "Hey buddy, I need there to be a lot of crime to write these books." No, really what I said was I had no idea but maybe a place to start to lower the amount of crime in our streets was to make fewer things illegal. Then this judge said what he said and well, it turned into a blog post)
Judge Slapped for Bias in Pot Case
He's right, but does that matter?
This is the kind of story that makes the background for my books. While sentencing a man convicted of running a marijuana grow op, the judge rejected a federal prosecutor's argument that a jail term was necessary to discourage people from getting involved in the drug trade.
"What's your basis for saying that?" the judge pressed. "Because nobody has been deterred. People have been going to jail for drug offences for – for a couple of generations now and the drug – the drug plague is worse than it ever was."
Allen questioned why, when a form of sentencing "doesn't work," he would try it again and again.
"Isn't that a form of insanity?" he asked.
And then the judge said what I've been writing about for three books now:
All society is really doing by prohibiting the production and consumption of marijuana is "giving the Hells Angels several billion dollars worth of income every year," Allen said.
Of course, I try to just present the criminal world as I see it. I try hard not to moralize or make my books too didactic. I have no answers to the "drug plague" as the judge called it, but if he's right about this part:
... the chances of a Dutch teen smoking marijuana – which is available at their local coffee shop – are substantially lower than the likelihood of an American teenager using the drug, he said.
It might be worth looking into.
A few years ago a teenager told me that he and his friends smoked dope because it was easier to get for them than beer. This kid claimed it was because stores that sold beer and alcohol (privately owned or government owned - I've lived in places with each system and there's little difference) didn't want to risk the fine and the criminal charge for selling to them but the drug dealer they bought from was already committing a criminal offense, so he didn't care.
To me there's no doubt that the drug trade supplies organized crime with a huge amount of capital and like all capitalists they reinvest that money and try to 'grow' their business into other areas.
And for now, it's all material for me.
And there's no shortage of material.
The Toronto Star article about the judge is here.