Pubdate: Mon, 28 Nov 2011
Source: Nanaimo Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011 John Anderson
Author: John Anderson


Four Vancouver ex-mayors currently advocate the end of laws which 
create networks of criminal organizations that use violence and 
intimidation to conduct their trade. Nearly 70% of BC residents 
believe that our current crime control policies are ineffective.

The message is clear: it's time to legalize the possession, 
cultivation and distribution of marijuana.

Marijuana has never been a serious health concern, nor has law 
enforcement had any lasting impact on its availability. Recent 
Canadian research shows the criminalization of marijuana creates and 
sustains violence between criminal organizations.

The potential negative health consequences of cannabis are dwarfed by 
the harms created by our legal efforts to control its use.

The evils associated with marijuana are the outcome of prohibitionist 
policies, and not the pharmacological properties of cannabis.

The most dangerous thing about marijuana is being caught with it by 
the police. Cannabis may lead to arrest, imprisonment and exposure to 
violence in jail, and a criminal record for life. Ironically, the 
senior bureaucrat responsible for administering our drug laws - the 
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act - is called the "Minister of Health".

Drug control can be achieved through education and regulation. Our 
deadliest drug - tobacco - is consumed by only 20% Canadians, 
compared to 50% in 1965.

This positive change is the result of public education about the 
harms of smoking, restrictions on advertising, but not by using the 
threat of punishment on tobacco users.

We should be concerned about the wasted money which is spent on 
prohibitionist policies that deliver the opposite of their advocates 
have promised. It's our responsibility to ask political leaders to 
actually lead on this issue, otherwise millions more dollars will be 
spent on failed prohibitionist policies.

John Anderson,

Chair, Criminology Department, Vancouver Island University

Vice President, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (Canada)

Member, Stop the Violence Coalition 
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