Regulate Pot Market as Public-Health Issue: Cop

Photo by Erin Ruff, The Georgia StraightPhoto by Erin Ruff, The Georgia StraightIt’s not easy being a cop who is vocally opposed to the criminalization of marijuana.

Go to David Bratzer’s website for information about his run for school board trustee in Victoria.

Victoria Const. David Bratzer is required to arrest people for growing and selling pot during his day job, and then, once off duty, speaks out about the damaging effects of keeping Canada’s massive marijuana trade illegal.

“When you are a police officer you are sworn to uphold the law and when you are on duty you have to enforce the law. You can’t pick and choose. When I am on duty I do arrest people for drug offences, but when I am off duty I do advocate for change.”

Bratzer felt he had to take a stand – outside of work hours. “Lots of officers speak up about it after they retire, but it was really important for me to call for a change to this failed policy. I didn’t want to work for 25 or 30 years and then wish I had spoken up,” said the community policing officer.

Bratzer is a member of a new coalition called Stop the Violence B.C., a gathering of doctors, police officers and academics who want the pot market regulated as a public-health issue.

The group released the results of a poll Thursday showing that 87 per cent of B.C. residents surveyed believe that gang violence is linked to organized criminals’ efforts to control the illegal marijuana trade.

The poll found only 12 per cent of citizens polled in the Angus Reid survey supported keeping existing pot laws in place.

Another 69 per cent said that arresting marijuana sellers and growers was ineffective and believed B.C. would be better off taxing and regulating use of the drug.

And just 39 per cent were in favour of mandatory minimum prison sentences for marijuana-related crime, including possession of six or more plants.

“In B.C., organized crime is reaping billions from the illegal marijuana industry and increasingly consolidating its hold through violence,” said coalition member, retired RCMP chief supt. Vince Cain.

“Stiffer sanctions will not reverse these trends, but legally regulating marijuana in B.C. would eliminate a primary source of re venue for these criminal groups, reduce gang violence and generate tax income.”

Coalition member Dr. Evan Wood, co- director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/ AIDS, also weighed into the debate.

“We must discuss alternatives to today’s failed laws with a focus on how to decrease violence, remove the illicit industry’s profit motive and improve public health and safety,” he said.

– Article from The Province.