The illegal growing of “B.C. Bud” is this province’s largest cash crop. Hundreds of high school students show up in downtown Vancouver each year for a 4/20 smoke-in. A Whistler snowboarder nearly lost an Olympic gold medal after testing positive for pot. Esteemed British Columbians regularly call for decriminalization of marijuana.
Yet, even as the province nicknamed Canada’s “lotus land” gets ready to elect a new provincial government on Tuesday, there is not one millimeter of movement toward legalization of marijuana north of the 49th Parallel.
“In our jurisdiction, it is a federal issue,” said Adrian Dix, leader of the New Democratic Party and the person favored to become British Columbia’s next premier. Dix favors decriminalization, but is not of a mind to cross swords on this issue with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Incumbent Premier Christy Clark is hands-off on the issue, even though wars over the B.C. drug trade have led to gangland-style slayings. “I am going to leave the marijuana debate to the federal government: It’s their sole sphere of responsibility,” in Clark’s words.
A recent Angus Reid poll found that 73 percent of British Columbians believe the province should at least, as a trial run, remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of pot.
It is, of course, all around and has been for decades. Asked the did-you-inhale question, Premier Clark answered: “I graduated from Burnaby South Senior Secondary in 1983 and there was a lot of that going on when I was in high school and I didn’t avoid it altogether.”
Four former British Columbia attorney generals — one of whom, Ujjal Dosanjh, is a former B.C. premier and Canadian health minister — have advocated decriminalization, and movement toward a health and education-based drug strategy. Vancouver, B.C. Mayor Gregor Robertson and four of his predecessors have argued likewise, pointing out that the vast illegal drug trade enriches gangs spreads violent crime.
But Harper’s government is not listening — or budging.
– Read the entire article at Seattle Post-Intelligencer.