The conference was put on by the BC Civil Liberties Association, with financial help from Cannabis Culture publisher Marc Emery.
At least two competing visions of legalization emerged during the conference. The first advocated strong regulations that would preserve “mom and pop” grow ops while shutting out both big business and bikers. Age and advertising restrictions, moderate to high taxes, and strict quality control would all play a role in a strongly regulated legal environment. Supporters of this model included Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell, former police officer Walter McKay and Canadian Senator Pierre Claude Nolin.
The second vision of legalization advocated no restrictions whatsoever, and found its strongest supporter in libertarian economist and University of Boston Professor Jeffrey Miron.
He reasoned that age restrictions would just teach kids that “laws are for suckers, and how to get around them using their friends and other people.” He contended that high “sin” taxes imply that marijuana is harmful and immoral when it is not, and might create incentive for a continued underground economy.
Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell got a standing ovation after announcing that, “all of [Canada’s] drug war policies, all of them are set by the US. We are being led around by the US.” Campbell added that “if marijuana was charged in a court, no jury in their right mind would convict and that is why I have long supported legalization!”
Other insightful presenters included US NORML founder Keith Stroup, University of Amsterdam Professor Peter Cohen, Vancouver Island Compassion Society founder Philippe Lucas, BC Compassion Club Society organizers Hilary Black and Rielle Capler, British Columbia Ministry of Health Services consultant Dr Brian Emerson and BC organic med-pot growers Wendy Little and Eric Nash.