Monday, January 24, 2011

Food for Thought

The following blog written by KSUSSDP member Steve Larson:

Food for thought…hmmm maybe just fees please

Fresh foods are a great way to bring your mind and body to a healthier state, but sometimes their cost keeps those who need them the most from enjoying their benefits. So let’s say you take matters into your own hands and grow your own vegetables in your house to supply your family with a healthy substitute to the heavily processed chemical-laden foods that are sold in super markets. Seems like a good idea, but what if you were fined thousands of dollars because the municipal inspectors thought you were growing marijuana instead? Sounds like something that can only happen in a bad dream, right? Wrong. Len Gratto of Missions, British Colombia is one of the many citizens who have been fined $5,200 or even up to $10,000 in fees and repair orders for not growing marijuana. All Gratto did was grow cucumbers in his basement.

These marijuana grow-op searches, which are sometimes done illegally, are made possible through Grow-op bylaw programs that allow municipal inspectors to enter homes with abnormally high hydro usage — about 93 kilowatts per day or more — and look for evidence of illegal marijuana grow-ops for public safety reasons. The sad part of about this is that the evidence they find does not necessarily mean the household is or has grown marijuana. For instance, Gratto stated “the ‘laughable’ evidence against him consists of pictures of some ‘dirt’ on the basement wall and ‘a furnace pipe going up into the chimney, where it should be.’” This is just outrageous. I am pretty sure that dirt does not equal marijuana. There are many people that bring inside potted plants that cannot survive the winter or grow vegetables and cooking herbs indoors, all of which I will reiterate are not marijuana. Thankfully, Gratto, among many others, is not going to let his rights be abused like this and is willing to start an "imminent class action" law suit against Mission.

From 2008 to 2010, there were 362 Public Saftey Inspection Team searches of which 275 of them were given the fees of $5,200! Councilor Jenny Stevens of Missions, who initially supported this program, believes that around half of these homeowners were innocent. She says, “My biggest worry is about 50 per cent of these people were subjected to embarrassment and innuendo. I’m very concerned about the threat of litigation.”

These laws do not just embarrass and damage the reputation of the town citizens, but can even lead them to the usage of prescription drugs. For instance, in another innocent victim’s case in which Drew Smith said that he had to get sedatives because he couldn’t sleep at night with the stress and embarrassment in the neighborhood. Thank you drug laws for ruining even more innocent lives, as if the drug cartel violence in Mexico and overcrowded prisons in the US were not enough.

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