Why Your Vote May 12th is a Matter of Life and Death

The BC NDP & BC Liberals have the identical platform on crime. Here’s why it’s essential you vote BC Green.

The Tyee is an online magazine about BC politics with journalists and bloggers from the left to center. In this piece, Irwin Loy compares the BC NDP and BC Liberals platforms on gang crime. It’s all prohibition and enforcement, the same methodology for dealing with gang crime for the last 35 years with decidedly unsuccessful results.

From The Tyee:

In their 55-page 2009 platform booklet, the Liberals promise to crack down on gangs and guns. The party’s seven broad, key points:

* More police officers, including 168 officers hired with federal funds
* More prosecutors
* More jails and secure courts
* Tougher laws and sentences
* Crackdown on illegal guns
* Outlaw armoured vehicles and body armour
* New gang hotlines and rewards programs

The NDP’s 56-page 2009 platform, meanwhile, points out that the Liberals have overseen closures of B.C. jails and courthouses. But the NDP promises are nearly identical, right down to the number of officers it wants to hire:

* Hiring 168 new officers
* Creating an anti-gang prosecution team
* Cracking down on “the revolving bail door” for gang members
* Tougher laws and penalties for gang-related crime involving guns, body armour and armoured cars
* Studying the feasibility of regional policing in Metro Vancouver
* Sending out-of-province criminals back to their home provinces to face outstanding charges

The B.C. Marijuana Party was formed in 2001 because the B.C. NDP and B.C. Liberals both were enforcing the prohibition of marijuana and other substances with increased gusto. In 2001, both the Ujjal Dosanjh NDP government and Gordon Campbell’s Liberals wanted more police on the streets, longer sentences, more convictions, more raids, more “Grow Buster” teams, more anti-gang integrated units.

How did that work for British Columbia? What any scientist of prohibition would have predicted. The more marijuana growers and drug dealers the government and their police put in jail, the more the violence in the street increases as young people and others fight over the vacuum created by the arrest of the dealer or producer of illegal substances. Today, in 2009, we have dozens of crime gangs, crime gang violence, and murders like never before (since alcohol prohibition, anyway). The gangs run all the jails, and every young person sent to jail for any crime is pressured and given incentives in jail to join a gang. More gang members come out of jail than go in. Jails are the number-one recruiting centre for gangs; in fact, the Red Scorpions gang was formed in jails of the Lower Mainland. Over 140 Punjabi youth in the lower mainland have been killed since 1990 in the gang warfare that is intrinsic to the prohibition drug market, even though Punjabi culture represents no more than 4% of the population of the lower mainland. Drug prohibition is clearly luring young people into crime and to their deaths.

The BC NDP and BC Liberals say more police, longer sentences, more jails and more prohibition is the “answer”. Yet jailing more young people is possibly the worst thing we can do. More police is possibly the worst thing we can do.

To maintain a prisoner in a Canadian federal prison costs the Canadian taxpayer $75,000 a year. It cost tens of thousands to convict him. Yet it does nothing to prevent the crimes from continuing. If prohibition did not exist, drugs and marijuana would have no particular value above their cost of production. There would be no money in it. Young men are attracted to gangs and drug dealing precisely because there is a huge amount of money in it. A young man can be assured of flashy clothes, a great car with lavish rims, drugs, women, and ready cash once he adopts the gangster life. So can we change human nature that seeks material things or can we change the law so we no longer manufacture crime?

Since 2001, over a thousand more police have been hired in the Lower Mainland, but gang crime still carries on unabated. Marijuana and drugs are still dealt with in the black market, the taxpayer has spent billions on incarceration, police are everywhere in Vancouver but cannot prevent the crimes, and the B.C. NDP and B.C. Liberals are helpless in dealing with the gangs. What more police on the street do is harass motorists, petty drug users, and other easy to do jobs, because they have to something, it just won’t arresting the dangerous criminals. Mike Farnworth of the NDP has explicitly called for longer sentences, more police, more jails, and more enforcement of the drug laws—but those are precisely the reasons we are in a greater problem than ever before.

The more the drug laws are enforced, the more gang violence there is. The more young people sent to jail, the more gangs recruit more members and introduce them to violence, and then their membership in the gang continues when they are on the outside. The more we enforce the drug laws, the higher the price of drugs remain, and so invariably that is the leading recruitment incentive to join a gang. The more we enforce the drug laws, the more police budgets explode and take up more of the public’s treasury. The more we enforce the drug laws, the more police corruption there is. The more we enforce the drug war, the more we see an end to our civil rights and constitutional law. We get asset forfeiture of homes of pot growers, “safety” inspection teams snooping in every home based on electrical use, cops stopping any young person with a nice car or coloured skin.

In fact, enforcing the drug war brings us the worst of all worlds.

After running 79 candidates in 2001, and 45 candidates in 2005, the B.C. Marijuana Party is endorsing B.C.’s third party, the B.C. Green party, for this election. I have met B.C. Green party leader Jane Sterk and she is a wise and compassionate advocate for the party’s principles, calling for social justice, nonviolence, diversity and sustainability. On page 39 of the Green Book, the B.C. Green party platform, is a policy calling for the repeal of marijuana prohibition and regulating substance use. The B.C. Greens don’t just make it a policy, they actually advocate it and mean it. It has been a centerpiece of their election campaign currently underway. They have appointed my wife, Vancouver-Fraserview Green candidate Jodie Emery, the policing and prohibition critic of the party. Sterk is comfortable explaining the policy of repealing prohibition to the people of British Columbia, because it is a rational and fact-based policy and will actually resolve the problem of gang violence.

For this reason, as president of the B.C. Marijuana Party, I am extremely delighted and excited to declare that all of our support is behind seeing B.C. Green party leader Jane Sterk elected, and to call on all supporters of the BCMP in elections past to vote, volunteer, and donate to the B.C. Greens in the May 12 election.


Most of this blog appears in the Georgia Straight here

Marc Emery
Marc Emery

Marc Emery is a Canadian cannabis activist, entrepreneur, and politician. Known to his fans as the Prince of Pot, Emery has been a notable advocate of international cannabis policy reform for decades. Marc is the founding publisher of Cannabis Culture and Pot TV.



  1. Deputy Dawg on

    its a spelling mistake–not an error of grammar
    guy typed ” I ” instead of ” O”
    he meant dealer OF drugs, what is so mysterious about any of this?
    its pretty clear to the rest of the world
    petty stoner goofs /
    no wonder the DEA is winning

  2. Deputy Dawg on

    Snap out of it stoner goof- that was an opinion..
    facts do not have question marks

    “You might want to ask what’s so wrong with the nations they need so much healing from a weed sane people and animals avoid?

    check the question mark at the end of the statement-
    its a question .. can you answer the question guy here presents
    with a fact– without just hurling a streetwise insult ?

  3. Anonymous on

    You sir are a hypocrite. Touting your opinion as matter of fact.

    “You might want to ask what’s so wrong with the nations they need so much healing from a weed sane people and animals avoid?

    heal your delusions – the 70s are over” – Anon replying to Herb.

    heal your misconceptions – the time is now (the 70’s? lame comment. get outta here)

  4. Anonymous on

    Even the fucking article posted has gramatical errors for fucks sake. Thank got this wasnt some drivel written in one of the magazines i used to pay for (for the pictures).

    lolz. i think you meant “god”, but in case “got” is a person.

    i thank Got for what he does for this magazine.

  5. Fill-A-Bong on

    Fail!!! Who cares about what your “majority” has time for. It’s not their time I’m using when I choose to become intoxicated. There are several things I’d to rebut about your comments.

    Moral Police – Quoting Cartman, “The F*ck?” do we need moral police? And, since when is my body and mind the jurisdiction of moral police. Keep the subjectiveness of morality out of this.

    Right to Drug Use
    My choices, in regards to personal and responsible drug use, are a part of my right to Freedom of Thought outlined by UN’s UDHR.

    In case you didn’t know, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a document that defines the use of words “fundamental freedoms” and “human rights” in the UN Charter. UDHR – Article 18 states :
    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

    Privileges to “Do Much About It”
    I’m not sure where you live. But as backwards as my government is, I still live in a Democracy. As such, I have the privilege to “work the system” in order to get the laws changed. If our government worked as it was intended, it would be far easier to use facts and logic to form/reform our laws. This is where our opportunity comes in.

    Opportunity to “Do Much About It”
    The time is now! We have the opportunity to change our world. This opportunity isn’t for the users of drugs but an opportunity for Everyone. Open your mind to the logical notation that we must change and be dynamic with our ever-changing world. If making drugs illegal, increases crime and violence of a nation. Maybe, just maybe, think about alternative harm(crime) reduction methods. Right now, we can change our world. Be as politically active as possible. Influence your world!!!

    I reiterate, the words of others, that there needs to be a serious reworking of drug laws with regards but not limited to drug scheduling, drug criminalization, and drug-crime incarceration. Personally, I feel a capitalist-styled, regulated, and commercialized system for the manufacturing/distributing of drugs would produce a safer atmosphere for everyone. The cost savings alone from police, prosecution, jailing, and loss of productivity of that individual are staggering. This is not to mention the revenue generation the taxation of the drugs would create. All in all, whatever you believe, we can all agreed there needs to be a change to our policies.

    Love to hear responses,

  6. Reggaesmoker on

    wow, you all need to chill out with a little green. Free the drug trade and this violence goes away. Not like its gonna make drugs any easier to find then they are now and always have been.
    People can even easily find drugs in prison and that is a more controlled environment then the outside world could ever be.

    Vote Green!

  7. Anonymous on

    even the fucking article posted has gramatical errors for fucks sake. Thank got this wasnt some drivel written in one of the magazines i used to pay for (for the pictures).

  8. Winnipeg Phil on

    Just a suggestion: use spell check before posting arguments, and maybe get a proofreader :/ people might be more inclined to take you seriously if you at least attempted to make sense.

  9. Zachary Cameron on

    Feed the troll! Feed the troll! Feed the troll!

    “a dealer if drugs” is grammatically incorrect.

    Please troll, prove me wrong.

    Please troll, where did you get your figures for the value of a Marijuana seed at exactly three cents?

    “You might want to ask what’s so wrong with the nations they need so much healing from a weed sane people and animals avoid ?”

    Please troll, validate the above statement.

  10. Anonymous on

    “…I would hope with this insight you reconsider your definition of a drug dealer..and come up with a more compelling argument. …”

    Your insight is an opinion, not a fact – just one more empty pop bottle on the beach of public policy. Your scenerio of what Pharma does and how they live seems like it was taken from an old Batman comic book..

    a drug dealer deals what…? drugs, so that compound word is accurate,: a dealer if drugs. and you are right, Marc Emery is a self confessed drug dealer- last time we checked he didn;t have a permit to deal in or export controlled substances

    Selling a three cent pot seed for $25- do the math my friend, that’s big alternative Pharma that was happening til the non violent take down. and then the non violent plea bargain the non violent extradition judgement the non violent the non violent US trial..and the non violent judgment for selling thousands of pot seeds to America..

    Mr Emery is getting spanked by the DEA, he did not destroy them as he so often claimed he would..he is a multiple offender, fines and jail didn’t smarten him up-Ayn Rand never suggested breaking the law or peddling dope – ha dope seeds so anybody with ready cash can become a drug manufacturer / drug dealer

    You might want to ask what’s so wrong with the nations they need so much healing from a weed sane people and animals avoid ?

    heal your delusions – the 70s are over

  11. Herb is the healing of nations... on

    Hmm.. you call him a drug dealer and you say he lives the lavish lifestyle, but i believe, prescription companies conduct their businesses similarily, they sell drugs which are often more harmful and jam packed with side effects. “Drug dealers” the ones which you are comparing Emery with, conduct their business in the black market have no names until they are booked. The drug dealer you are describing does have a name, Marc Emery, and has provided his name and full disclosure of his non violent activities to the public.

    I would hope with this insight you reconsider your definition of a drug dealer..and come up with a more compelling argument.


  12. Ron Pauls Bastard Son on

    a succesful, legitimate business

    key word is ” legimate”

  13. Winnipeg Phil on

    cause he has a JET!!!

    lol to the moron who thought everyone DIDNT know nice cars, drugs, women and cash are some benefits of running a succesful, legitimate business. to compare that to the illegal actions of gang members in any way is beyond ludicrous, it’s retarded.

  14. Anonymous on

    Even if you don’t choose to do drugs that dosn’t mean you have the right to become the moral police.

    so if you do use drugs,what makes you the moral police over everybody else who doesn’t? The majority of the human race has no time for intoxicated lifestyle ..You have neither the right, the privilege nor the opportunity to do much about it.. except maybe bitch

  15. candykidz on

    Mr. Emery has worked very hard to be able to have all the nice things you speak of. When is the last time that you owned your own legitimate business and then took millions of your own money and poured it back into something usefull like fighting for freedom and equality for all people. You may portray him as just a “ganster”, but to the vast majority of INFORMED people he is nothing short of a fucking hero. Millions of law-abiding citizens of the world are victomized every year because they simply make the wiser choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol or tabacco or even prescription meds. The worst part of it all is that the DEA of the US is trying to put him in a prison full of violence and murders, when he has never even been to the US, and isn’t a violent offender himself. But that kind of injustice happens every day here in america and its up to people like Marc Emery and myself to take a stand and bring light to the failed and often counter-productive prohibition laws. Even if you don’t choose to do drugs that dosn’t mean you have the right to become the moral police. People who USE drugs resposably aren’t criminals and they don’t deserve to be in prison. Punish people for the crimes that they commit. Wether or not they are on drugs shouldn’t be realitive to that. Remember: A victomless crime is no crime at all.

  16. Ron Pauls' Bastard Son on

    …AND.. flashy clothes, forgot the flashy clothes part of drug gansterism. along with money, cars, dope and women

    that expensive Armani suit comes to mind, and that custom made 420 Vancouver Canuks vanity jersey-. maybe a bit dull to qualify as flashy,
    but the price tags add up to pretty much the same thing

  17. Ron Pauls Bastard Son on

    “….drug dealing precisely because there is a huge amount of money in it. A young man can be assured of flashy clothes, a great car with lavish rims, drugs, women, and ready cash once he adopts the gangster life….”

    except for the lavish rims, isn’t this what you diid Mr Emery? lead the drug gangster lifestyle pretty much as you describe here? huge amounts of money. a great car, drugs, women and ready cash??

    If the luxury car you leased had an option to include lavish rims, we think you would have signed on