Sunday, February 20, 2011
Two stories about civil forfeiture made the news recently. In my opinion one is good, the other is bad. A while ago the police seized the Hells Angels clubhouse in Nanaimo under the civil forfeiture act - proceeds of crime. That I think was a good thing. The Hells Angels recently lost their second attempt to block that forfeiture, which is good.
The other case involved the police seizing the home where a grow op operated out of. Personally I think that over steps and sets a bad precedent. As I've said before, there's a big difference between a grow op and a crack house or a meth lab. Seizing the property of every grow op oversteps just like it does when they seize your car for driving after having two drinks with dinner. Letting criminals sell and smoke crack in public but seizing someone';s car for two drinks or their house for having a few pot plants is disproportionate.
Now I'm not saying I think the police should only seize Hells Angels grow ops and not anyone else's. I'm saying I don't think the government should be seizing grow ops. Once again, in a democratic society, the public elect the politicians who make the rules and tax dollars pay the police's salaries who enforce the rules. Surely the public should then be involved in the creation and enforcement of those rules. If it is a democratic society that is.
In 2005 police raided a grow-operation in a Kelowna house that East End Hells Angels member Joseph Skreptak owned, but had rented out. Skreptak was not in the house when the raid occurred, but his truck -- with a Hells Angels sticker on it -- was parked there and another Hells Angels sticker was on the front door of the home.
Although Skreptak owned the house he claimed he had nothing to do with the grow op in the home because he rented it out to someone else. Which simply is not believable because his car was parked out front and the grow had a Hells Angels sticker on it broadcasting to the world not to fuck with it because it was owned by the Hells Angels.
In this case, even though it involved a Hells Angel, I don't think they should seize the home for two reasons. First it oversteps and second, it won't hurt the Hells angels because they're just put the risk of loss on to a contractor.
It will however, increase the tax base and be a cash cow for the government which in my opinion is wrong. Especially if they want to use that money to build a million more prisons to incarcerate everyone for the possession of pot.
The problem isn't pot. The problem is meth and crack. The problem is trading the BC Bud for cocaine in the states and bringing it back to be sold here as crack. That is the problem that needs to be addressed.
It's like the new law about seizing your car for speeding. 40 km over the limit is fine for giving a speeding ticket but too soon to seize someone's car. I know we all laughed when the two Hells Angels were caught speeding through traffic on the pink princess and had their bikes seized under the new legislation. Excessive speeding and reckless driving is grounds for seizing a vehicle not 40 K.
The ideal is finding a balance between the extremes which never seems to happen. Addressing organized crime is a good thing. Becoming a police state is not.