Calgary Drug Laws and Calgary Gangs: Ending the Violence for Good: Part 1

The news about Calgary's "gangs" seems never-ending. Every week sees more headlines about the violence gangs are visiting upon our city, the danger that gangs present to normal Calgary citizens, and all manner of other reasons we should be scared of these "different" and "outside" forces that have somehow infiltrated Calgary society.

The problem is, these "gangs" aren't made up of outsiders. They aren't even really gangs the way most people think of them. And they aren't nearly as dangerous to Calgary as many other problems our city is facing. Though talk of "gangs" might help sell papers (or drive clicks and views, in the era of digital media), and though touting arrests as being tough on gangs might work well for the Calgary Police Service politically, these things do more to harm our city and its citizens than they do to help it. It's time Calgary stood up for common-sense drug laws and a new approach to "gangs" that will actually help curb violence and make our city safer and more inclusive for everyone.

In Calgary, Gangs Aren't Always Gangs

A gang or "criminal organization," according to the legal definition, is any group of people that meets more than one time for the alleged purpose of committing a crime.

If three people decide to rob a convenience store, and they meet at 1pm to plan it and at 8pm to carry out their plan, they can be considered a gang under the law. That means they can face additional charges and harsher punishments than they otherwise would for committing the exact same crime—simply by being designated a "gang," they are faced with a different set of laws, law enforcement procedures, and sentencing guidelines.

The laws defining gangs were designed to help law enforcement bring down large criminal enterprises, but here in Calgary the "gang" identification is increasingly being used to target some of our city's most vulnerable populations, primarily immigrants and first-generation Calgarians. Those who already feel that they are treated as being outside Calgary society, and who struggle to find decent employment, are more likely to resort to criminal activity such as drug trafficking, and when they have neighbors and family members going through the same struggles they are likely to find partners to help.

Then we are told that these "gangs" present a great danger and should be pursued as such, which only creates more division and pushes vulnerable populations further to the outskirts of Calgary society. They are approached as violent criminals, which only makes them more prone to violence.

Meanwhile, taking a more common sense approach to drug laws would virtually eliminate any "gangs" reason to exist in Calgary, taking away the illegal trade by making recreational use of certain drugs legal. This move would also do a lot more to improve public safety here in Calgary, as you'll see in Part 2 of this article.

Charged With a Drug and/or Gang-Related Crime? Talk To a Calgary Defence Lawyer Today!

If you or a family member has been charged with a crime in Calgary, you have the right to speak to an experienced Criminal defence lawyer as soon as is practically possible. For a free initial consultation, please contact my office today.