Former Vancouver Mayors: We Can’t Afford a War on Weed

Canada has reached a critical time in its misguided War on Weed. Despite investing countless billions across North America in areas such as law enforcement, prison expansion and border controls, marijuana prohibition has been a costly failure.

Youth today have easier access to pot than alcohol and tobacco, organized crime is getting rich and some neighbourhoods remain deadly combat zones as arrests lead to new rounds of turf warfare among gangs controlling the marijuana trade.

Now, Canada’s federal government and the B.C. provincial government are on the verge of committing many more billions of our tax dollars to this failed policy.

It’s lunacy. Since 1908, when Canada passed the Anti-Opium Act, we have had a century of experience to know that an approach that emphasizes prohibition and leans heavily on costly law enforcement and imprisonment will fail.

Civic leaders are the politicians closest to the gang-related violence that plays out on city streets. As former mayors of Vancouver, we are calling for an alternative to marijuana prohibition. Our call is not new; some mayors in B.C. have already voiced support for our efforts. And in 2007, mayors at the annual United States Conference of Mayors voted unanimously in favour of a statement that noted the War on Drugs has failed and called for a public health approach to drug policy.

Unfortunately, senior levels of government have either ignored pleas to reconsider marijuana prohibition or disregarded evidence that proves – conclusively – that the crusade they are on is doomed to fail.

Canada’s federal government continues to state its strong opposition to taxation and regulation of marijuana while the B.C. government dodges the question by repeating the mantra that it is focused on jobs and family. But it is families that pay the price for broken communities and gang warfare.

The lessons of alcohol prohibition are directly relevant to the experience with marijuana. Just as with alcohol prohibition – which failed to suppress alcohol use, wasted police resources and turned ordinary citizens into criminals – under marijuana prohibition young people have consistently had easier access to pot than alcohol or cigarettes. And just like the emergence of the violent illegal market controlled by gangsters like Al Capone in the 1920s, marijuana prohibition has similarly fueled the growth of organized crime.

The RCMP in British Columbia has consistently highlighted the violent methods that biker gangs and other organized crime groups use to control the trade in marijuana and other drugs. In one recent report, they said the drug trade in B.C. includes “homicides, contract killings, kidnappings, vicious ordered assaults, extortion and arson [which]continues to be the hallmark of all levels of the drug economy.”

In 2009, there were no fewer than 276 incidents of drive-by shootings in B.C., which, the RCMP added, often occurred without regard for public safety.

Recently, we wrote an open letter to elected leaders in British Columbia urging them to join us as part of a new coalition called Stop the Violence BC, which is attempting to “break the silence” regarding the ineffectiveness and harms of marijuana prohibition. The coalition, which consists of leading legal, law enforcement and public health experts, has called for a strictly regulated legal market for adult marijuana use as a strategy to address the ineffectiveness and serious harms of marijuana prohibition.

Not only could this strategy raise hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, experts believe that employing the regulatory tools and educational strategies that have pushed down rates of tobacco use could also reduce rates of marijuana use. While marijuana is illegal, none of those effectively regulatory tools are policy options.

While it is true that drug laws are a federal issue, the need for provincial leadership has never been greater. After all, it is the provinces that will be on the hook for the billions of dollars that will be required to house an increased prison population and pay for other measures under the federal government’s proposed mandatory minimum sentencing legislation. Even though mandatory minimum sentences have unequivocally failed to address the drug problem south of the border, the B.C. provincial government has voiced support for the proposed federal omnibus crime bill which includes mandatory minimum prison sentences for anyone caught with more than five marijuana plants.

The federal and provincial governments should heed the words of the Fraser Institute, a conservative-leaning think-tank that opposes marijuana prohibition and laments the fact that marijuana-related revenue and profits go straight to criminal enterprises rather than government coffers.

Politicians at all levels – whether in government or opposition – can no longer ignore the violence, crime and financial costs to taxpayers related to marijuana prohibition. By taxing and regulating marijuana under a strict public health framework, politicians can help stop the growth of a massive underground economy that enriches gangsters rather than the public purse and does nothing to prevent young people from easily accessing marijuana. Politicians must act, now, before billions more are foolishly spent and further blood is shed.

It’s time politicians recognize that prohibition has been with us for 103 years, and ask themselves, “How are we doing so far?”

– Article from The National Post.



  1. Anonymous on

    The Illegal Herb that Fights Cancer
    Posted By Dr. Mercola | May 07 2011 | 420,850 views

    The Medical Miracle You’ll Get Arrested for Using
    Posted By Dr. Mercola | November 26 2011 | 255,598 views


    The Federal Tort Claims Act or “FTCA”, (June 25, 1948, ch. 646, Title IV, 62 Stat. 982, “28 U.S.C. Pt.VI Ch.171? and 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)), is a statute enacted by the United States Congress in 1948.

    The FTCA permits private parties to sue the United States in a federal court for most torts committed by persons acting on behalf of the United States. The FTCA constitutes a limited waiver of sovereign immunity.
    The Federal Tort Claims Act of 1946, for the first time, gave American citizens the right to sue the federal government.”

    The primary reason for this communication was to create an awareness of the methods of omission used in this great crime against humanity itself. Now if you look closely you will not find the mentioning of powerful antibiotic actions of marijuana nor will you find the mentioning of the Lyme plague (Lyme disease primarily is treated with powerful antibiotics ) which was so disturbing to myself — you the reader are being directed to these specific omitted facts with all the background provided.

    Cannabis plant extracts can effectively fight drug-resistant bacteria.
    Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa

    The audience of the communication has at length in time now been exposed to the Lyme plague instrumented by the United States Government and their facilitating agents. The email sent out by Joseph Mercola clearly demonstrates the aggressive actions by the criminal parties which must be responded to with every action possible.

    Thus the difficult yet apparent facts of this bio weapon being empowered by marijuana Prohibition comes to light. This is the 2012 moment and we have to prosecute this crime.

    By Virginia T. Sherr 7-31-05

    Lyme borreliosis is a brain disease as well as a multisystemic disease caused by spirochetal bacteria.* Quite frankly, it is an infection that has been burdened with a thousand inaccurate medical diagnoses. The manner in which the current pandemic of tertiary Lyme disease, neuroborreliosis, has usually been handled— either angrily dismissed or strangely misdiagnosed–throughout the 30 years following its “discovery,” has blemished the historic excellence of modern American Medicine.

    Losses of acuity in the human brain’s visual cortex have been observed as early as 6 hours following the toxic bite of an infected tick. Lyme may persist after too brief a period of treatment or if there has been no treatment, and may result in chronic infections whereupon Lyme borreliosis becomes a potential cause of every symptom in medical and psychiatric lexicons. It is the “Great Imitator” of this Millennium, spirochetal paresis (neuro-syphilis) having been its precursor and its model.

    Special to AOL News
    (May 28) — We’re in the midst of a terrifying epidemic, although you wouldn’t know it to talk to most doctors and health specialists.

    The disease is growing at a rate faster than AIDS. From 2006 to 2008 alone, the number of cases jumped a whopping 77 percent. In 2008 alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed 28,921 “confirmed” and 6,277 “probable” cases of the disease, but there could be as many as 420,000 because of underreporting.

    Prominent victims include Parker Posey, Richard Gere, President George W. Bush, Alice Walker and Christie Brinkley.

    If any other disease had stricken so many people, the medical community would be scurrying for knowledge, scrambling for cures or rushing to warn patients (think swine flu).

    But more important is the need for public health community to treat this disease like the epidemic it is, and start putting real resources into educating the public and the medical profession about how to identify it, treat it, and prevent it.

  2. Bud Grinder on

    Pastor Harper and his co-lunatic, Crusty Clark of BC, don’t give a damn about statistics and opinions from folks demonstrably much smarter and well-informed than they are. They have a completely other agenda which has nothing to do with facts other than their own.

    Its all about exercising and consolidating political power. The more of the folks who oppose their regimes that they can take out of circulation by dissappearing them to the prison gulag the easier it becomes to impose their draconian policies on the rest for the betterment of themselves and their oligarch co-conspirators.