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Next time you want to know about drugs, CALL A HIPPY

Even when I think I'm onto a media story, it turns into a possible RCMP story. My Friday column is on the web early, hustled there at my request in the hope of staying ahead of what seem like inevitable revelations in the Paul Band ecstasy case.


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Comments (5)


I'm interested in the criminal negligence causing death charges they've laid. The test for criminal negligence is conduct that shows a "wanton or reckless disregard for the life or safety of another". It has to be more than just carelessness. The conduct must be "a marked and substantial departure from what a reasonably prudent person would do in the same circumstances."

So answer me this, dear Int4rw3b: what is the standard of a reasonably prudent person in these circumstances? Surely a reasonably prudent person doesn't deal in ecstasy at all. But is being a drug dealer enough to make out criminal negligence? What if there isn't any evidence the accused knew there might be something wrong with the drugs? Isn't every drug deal then an instance of criminal negligence? This would appear to impose strict liability on drug dealers who unknowingly deal in a tainted drug that ends up killing someone.

Or let's assume the RCMP are right, and there's no evidence at all that the drugs were tainted. What precisely did the drug dealer do that was such a marked and substantial departure from the conduct of a prudent person? If ecstasy generally doesn't kill people, and if there's no evidence that the drugs were tainted, the Crown might have a hard time proving that it was the accused's conduct that caused the deaths.

Maybe we can impose an obligation on the reasonably prudent drug dealer to ensure his product isn't tainted. But if the cops themselves can't identify the taint, how would even a prudent dealer do so?

I'm going to go ahead and guess no one at the RCMP has thought this whole thing through. This might end up being an interesting case, depending on how the facts come out.

The only thing that seems reasonably clear to me is that you certainly couldn't be charged with criminal negligence causing death if you sold someone a drug they then overdosed on. That is, unless the overdose was somehow a consequence of the negligence, as it might be with an injectable drug of varying strength that had a low lethal dose-to-efficient dose ratio. With MDMA, whose ratio is so high it's off the scale, this does not seem like a consideration.

In other words, the charge laid this afternoon would seem to conflict with the police's implied assertion that ecstasy, as such, killed the girls. But there are autopsy results on the way, and it is somewhat reassuring that the drug may have been manufactured on or near the reserve.


Colby, on first read, I was troubled by your comment that "...it is somewhat reassuring that the drug may have been manufactured on or near the reserve."

Perhaps I'm hypersensitive, but that sounds a bit like "Don't worry, it's Indians killing Indians". Now, I'm sure that's not what you meant. You were probably suggesting that proximate production and effect, if in fact the case, might indicate that it hadn't been widely distributed (yet); or that the circumstances of its production suggested it was unlikely to be widely distributed at all.


Sure. I only meant to suggest that a manufacturer who's on the reserve and is a band member probably isn't supplying a huge urban market. He turned out to be easy to find, and it'll be easy to notify everyone quickly and seize all the pills if necessary. The nightmarish alternative was, maybe the girls had bought out of the back of a van on Jasper Ave.


Surely a reasonably prudent person doesn't deal in ecstasy at all.

I like your argumentation but I have to disagree with this premise. E, taken with the slightest amount of instruction and common sense, is several-nines safe. There are many, many drugs in the standard pharmacoepia that are orders of magnitude more dangerous than Ecstasy - a dealer is not a doctor (true, too many users make that extremely elementary mistake) but if you can start arresting dealers who sell clean E, none of us is safe. There are 500 products in even the smallest grocery store that, used improperly, can kill in minutes.

And I agree with you that the announcement the cops made that there was no evidence of taint ought to create serious doubt that any dealer "should have known" that anything was wrong.


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