Pubdate: Thu, 17 Feb 2005
Source: Aldergrove Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Central Fraser Valley Star Publishing Ltd.
Author: Kirk Tousaw


Editor, The Star:

Solicitor General Rich Coleman is at it again. His insistence on
increased U.S.-style tactics in a war on marijuana users, sellers and
growers would be a horrible mistake. And it would be
counter-productive, at best.

Let's examine Coleman's logic, or lack thereof, for a moment. His plan
is to ramp up penalties for growers because most are linked with
organized crime - a claim of questionable veracity. But what will this
achieve? It certainly won't be a deterrent - harsh penalties in the
U.S. have done nothing to curb marijuana supply (the U.S. grows the
vast majority of its own cannabis).

Instead, those who are most at risk from harsh penalties (the mom and
pop growers) will be forced out of the market. The supply void will be
filled by organized crime.

In other words, ramping up penalties will increase, not decrease, the
influence of organized criminals. We know this is true, of course,
because prohibition is the only reason criminals are involved in the
cannabis industry in the first place. You don't see turf wars between
Starbucks and Tim Hortons.

Coleman also complains about a lack of resources. Where, then, will he
get the money needed to lock up growers for extended prison terms?
Jailing every grower busted in B.C. in 2002 for two years would have
cost taxpayers $631 million. And this cost must be incurred each and
every year. Despite the glowing promises in the recent Throne speech,
will the Liberals slash funding for legal aid (again) or schools
(again) to pay for busting pot growers? Is that how you want your
money spent?

About the only sensible thing SG Coleman said was that
decriminalization would be a mistake. It would. Legalization is the
only rational policy choice.

But don't count on Coleman to figure that out.

Kirk Tousaw

Campaign Manager, British Columbia Marijuana Party, Vancouver
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