When Animal Liberation Front (ALF) “spokesperson” David Barbarash’s home was raided by Canadian Mounties last week, he complained bitterly (and predictably) about supposed “violations” to his civil rights. This despite numerous law enforcement officers going on record saying that the case involved “international terrorism issues.”

But there’s one complaint that Barbarash didn’t make — at least not openly. The Vancouver Province reported in a little-noticed August 1 story that in addition to computers and various “animal liberation” literature, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police “also seized 33 marijuana plants, which Barbarash said were for personal use.”

Personal use? According to a 1995 omnibus study called “Cannabis use in the United States” (published in Amsterdam, where they know about such things), “the average plant yield for mature, domestically grown commercial grade marijuana is
approximately three-quarters of one pound per plant.”
That puts Barbarash’s potential crop at nearly 25 pounds of dope. Cheech and Chong couldn’t go through that much in a year.

The U.S. Department of Justice, by the way, says that “cannabis cultivation in British Columbia is a billion-dollar industry, and that traffickers smuggle a significant portion of the Canadian harvest into the United States.” And our Drug Enforcement Administration notes that “BC Bud” can sell for “between $5,000 and $8,000 per pound” in major metropolitan areas. Presuming the lower number, that’s over US$123,000 that the Animal Liberation Front’s best-known ringleader might have pocketed during this year alone.

Incredibly, no charges have yet been filed against David Barbarash. In the United States, possession of fewer than 50 marijuana plants carries a sentence of up to 5 years in prison, plus fines up to $250,000.

A modest proposal: the FBI never got Al Capone for murder, but instead used a tax-evasion rap to put him away. If charges are not forthcoming against ALF criminals for arson, perhaps the law enforcement community should build drug trafficking cases against them instead. If it puts these terrorists behind bars, we’ll take it.