Jodie Emery: Ending Drug Prohibition Could Save Our Economy and Stop Gang Violence

Jodie Emery is the Green Party of B.C. candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview.Jodie Emery is the Green Party of B.C. candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview.Gang violence is a major concern for Vancouver and British Columbia. Shootings and murders happen so often that people feel unsafe in their own homes and communities. There was another time in history when gangsters terrorized society, bought fancy cars and weapons, lived lifestyles only criminal activity could afford, and shot rivals as they fought for control over the market. Law enforcement was unable to stop the violence, regardless of how severe the penalties and policing were. This happened under alcohol prohibition, and it’s happening again now under drug prohibition.

The modern-day example of prohibition’s absolute failure is Mexico. The United States’ southern neighbour is awash with gangs and drug cartels. These violent groups are murdering not just rivals, but also police, military personnel, politicians, and innocent victims. Over the years, Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón, has called for more law enforcement and military deployment, but every escalation of policing and imprisonment has resulted in rising gang violence and executions. In addition, government and law enforcement officials have been corrupted by the cartels, paid enormous sums of money in order to turn a blind eye towards drug-related criminal activity.

Is this what the province of British Columbia is headed towards? I strongly believe that, if we continue to fund and expand the failed policy of drug prohibition, Mexico’s drug war situation is a harbinger of our future. But there is a solution. Numerous experts and organizations are coming out en masse with the suggestion that repealing prohibition—ending the “war on drugs”—is the only way to stop the increasing violence, drug production, and gang growth happening across North America.

Additionally, with the worldwide economic situation getting worse every day, it’s become clear that the financial expense of investigating, arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning drug users and dealers is too much a burden to bear. Even the Americans are repealing mandatory minimum prison sentences for drugs because the enormous cost of jailing one in every 100 Americans is bankrupting many states.

At this very moment, California and Massachusetts are both proposing a tax-and-regulate model for marijuana to bring the enormous underground criminal industry into government control. British Columbia can lead the way in Canada by introducing similar legislation for cannabis marijuana, which would eventually result in taxing and regulating all psychoactive substances. The cannabis industry in B.C. is worth currently $7 billion to $12 billion, and in a legal environment, the gross revenue to producers would be about $1 billion with a corresponding $2 billion in tax revenues at the retail level.

B.C.’s legislative assembly would implement a taxed and regulated system for marijuana. The health minister will establish regulations for the production and distribution of cannabis in the same way the province is responsible for regulating the distribution of alcohol and tobacco. (The B.C. regulatory system for alcohol is, in fact, how we emerged from alcohol prohibition.) The solicitor general would instruct all police to cease arrests for marijuana, and the attorney general of B.C. would no longer accept any prosecutions of marijuana-related cases. The reduction in imprisonment would reduce incarceration costs, keep families together, and prevent youth from joining gangs. Children who have a parent in prison are at greater risk to seek life guidance from gangs, and prisoners are often recruited into gangs while behind bars.

The minister of finance would determine taxes and licences for the production and distribution of cannabis products, and collect income taxes from producers, and retail sales tax from retailers. (California’s proposal is a $50 tax per ounce.) The Ministry of Small Business would issue licenses for producers, giving preference to outdoor greenhouse cultivation using the sun and organic nutrients, and employing numerous farmers and agricultural technicians in B.C.’s economically depressed resource towns and regions. Municipalities would have the prerogative of inspecting unlicensed grow-ops and ordering them removed if they pose a safety hazard. The education minister would abolish the DARE program and teach drug education in schools through programs run by health officials. Youth drug education outside of the schools would operate similar to alcohol and tobacco campaigns, which have been proven to reduce the use of these substances among young people.

This model would be effective in drastically reducing gangs, their control over the drug market, and the related violence and murders. Repealing prohibition in favour of a legal model would not only save billions of dollars in law enforcement, courts, and prosecutions, but would also move billions of dollars from the underground economy into the legitimate market to be taxed and regulated. Criminals who try to produce and distribute marijuana outside the regulated industry would be investigated and tried for tax evasion, just as the gangsters were in the 1930s when alcohol prohibition was repealed. Once we end prohibition, gangs will be dealt a severe financial blow, our economy will be buoyed, the streets will be safer, and B.C. will be a leading example for the rest of Canada.

Jodie Emery is the Green Party of B.C. candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview.

– Article from The Georgia Straight.



  1. Supporter for Emery and Green Party/Liberal on

    Why would the profit margin drop that low for it that’s outrageous.

    No one wants schwag. Or moldy gunk. The government cannot grow high quality. In fact last time I got my hands on a zip worth 150 it wasn’t even remotely medicinal value.

    Ground up buds with stems in it? Not worth making food or smoking with. Now remove the stems and just the end product okay that’s fair. But sheesh not a reduce quality. Reducing price means reducing quality of organic. And would like to grind up buds myself, not get powder.

    But still no one want’s chemmy/bammer buds from the government in the first place. High quality organic please!!

    So that it actually benefits medical and recreational users. I got disgusted with buds under 240 a zip but disgusted with 350 – 500 a zip. So 240 – 320 a zip is A-Okay. Go to Amsterdam and find 20 euro a gram is outrageous that equals 32 dollars a gram.

    But too many people trust cheap quality which causes more lung damage any day. Look at the food in supermarkets for organic produce really expensive too.

    Long live expensive Organics!!! Fake food is not healthy. Preservatives are gross.

    I don’t want the government being stupid and charging cheap prices. Farmers deserve to live. But should stop allowing preservatives and chemmy foods.

    I will not see legalization in my lifetime. I’ll die before 65 without pot. You want my dormant depression to take over and commit suicide?

    The government will still push to buy petroleum and support those wars. Petroleum is not worth 100 dollars for a tank of gas. Just an example.

    Another example of rich politics in the USA is behind closed doors they buy there son or daughter out of prison terms for using and selling acid or any other hard drugs, but let potheads go to prison? This makes no sense.

    Oh and Amsterdam is a great example of how well government control over weed prevents car accidents under weed, hop on a bike and go…Lol.

    Driving under weed doesn’t do much harm either, cops are a bunch of liars they don’t test for having weed and alcohol at same time. I got mad about being taught this trash in highschool.

    But then again shouldn’t be using weed at age 16. And driving that’s whack. Only responsible adults have control. Without crashing. I did it, driving instructor noticed I was more relaxed and aware of other drivers and pedestrians.
    But this was cause I know my tolerance and did not smoke an entire spliff.

    I tested cocaine, zoloft, tynole, advil, paxil, another anti-depressant, extasy, cigarettes and cigars including alcohol. Let me just say those drugs are worse than weed. But responsible adults drink alcohol at lower doses and bam, still healthy and not drunk.

    I remember being in a provincial park drunk, and got warned to be thrown out cause I was arguing with my friend on these issues. And to be charged 300 bucks. That was whack just for talking loud and swearing? Girls looked at me while I was stoned and were like talk to us. If government control didn’t offer paranoia I would talk but nope.

    So why can’t we be more compassionate. And figure out a better method for irresponsible adults. Prison and jail does nothing. Even in correctional facilities does nothing. More Asylums please. A better place to keep psychos and murderers in line and out of public harm.

    I hope you can try to understand my point of view of what the government has done for North Americans and South American/Central America.

  2. Anonymous on

    Of course legalization of Marijuana would help, but nothing would end gang violence it is hear to stay. If you legalize weed, they will switch to all coke and heroin. Legalize Coke and Weed, they still sell Heroin. Legalize all 3 and then they switch to guns and who knows what else, and then you have a big mess. And I think there would be just as much crime in that because for people robbing to get drugs that would then be easily available as long you have the money which would be the main problem for drug users at this point.

    Only sane thing to do is Legalize Marijuana, not even as dangerous as alcohol which is readily available to drink, get in a car and kill someone with.

  3. Brandon Steele on

    That is by far the most descriptive and beneficial account of what a legalized market would look like here or anywhere else. Well said and thank you Jodie.