“The case demonstrating the failure and harms of marijuana prohibition is airtight. The evidence? Massive profits for organized crime, widespread gang violence, easy access to illegal cannabis for our youth, reduced community safety, and significant – and escalating – costs to taxpayers.”
You might think that statement comes from some marijuana activist group or libertarian think-tank. But, in fact, it comes from four people with a considerably more “respectable” pedigree: former British Columbia attorneys-general Colin Gabelmann, Ujjal Dosanjh, Graeme Bowbrick and Geoff Plant.
But the former A-Gs didn’t stop at merely calling attention to what should now be obvious to anyone who has taken even a cursory look at the consequences of marijuana prohibition. Rather, the A-Gs also called upon Premier Christy Clark and provincial opposition leader Adrian Dix to endorse the regulation of marijuana or to explain how they will otherwise deal with the all too obvious consequences of prohibition.
In so doing, the A-Gs became the latest members of an increasingly impressive group of people who are calling for an end to the criminalization of marijuana. Late last year, four former Vancouver mayors – Sam Sullivan, Larry Campbell, Philip Owen and Mike Harcourt – advocated for an end to prohibition, and they were joined by the B.C. Health Officers Council. And all of these groups have endorsed the campaign of Stop the Violence B.C., a coalition of academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts which has been mobilizing people to overturn marijuana prohibition.
There is one more organization that ought to be added to this growing chorus, though, and that is none other than The Vancouver Sun, which has consistently called for an end to destructive marijuana laws since 2003. And everything we wrote about the damage done by prohibition is as true today as it was nearly a decade ago – even truer, you might say, since the escalating war on drugs has only escalated the harm done.
We therefore called on the federal government, which is responsible for the criminal law, to end this debacle, but that call has fallen on deaf ears. Indeed, Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill now before the Senate, will merely make things worse by introducing mandatory prison sentences for non-violent marijuana offences.
Given this lack of leadership at the federal level, it is imperative that provincial leaders step up and fill the vacuum. While the criminal law remains a federal matter, the provinces can certainly have an impact on federal policy, just as they did when they advocated for an end to providing defendants with 2-for-1 credit for time served before conviction.
Now it is time for B.C.’s leaders to play a similar role by informing the federal government of their opposition to Bill C-10’s provision to impose mandatory sentences for marijuana offences. Yet instead, Premier Clark has endorsed Bill C-10, while Opposition leader Adrian Dix has expressed no position at all on the legislation.
This simply isn’t good enough. And so we end our editorial by posing to provincial leaders the same question posed by the former A-Gs: If you do not support taxation and regulation of marijuana as a strategy to better protect community health and safety, what is your plan to reduce gang violence related to the illegal marijuana trade, ensure the judicial system works efficiently and effectively in the face of escalating convictions, pay for increased prison costs while the B.C. government runs deficits, and prevent criminal enterprises from targeting B.C.’s youth for cannabis sales?
Clark and Dix owe British Columbians an honest answer to this honest question.
– Article from The Vancouver Sun.