Pubdate: Wed, 03 Oct 2012
Source: New West News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Black Press


Marijuana is expensive.

Not only to those who indulge in the occasional, or regular, toke. 
But also in law enforcement and social costs.

Growing, distributing and possessing pot are all illegal in Canada.

Much of the growing and distribution are controlled by organized 
crime. Police, court and municipal authorities spend hundreds of 
millions of dollars a year enforcing Canada's pot laws.

For the most part, it's a cat-and-mouse chase that just ends up 
moving the problem around rather than eradicating it outright.

Even a former B.C. attorney general, Geoff Plant, says the 
prohibition of marijuana has been a "disastrous failure of public policy."

Last week, the Union of B.C. Municipalities passed a resolution 
calling for marijuana to be decriminalized.

They'd rather the weed be regulated and taxed instead, much like alcohol.

That's good news and bad news for the province's 585,000 regular pot 
users; they'd no longer be considered criminals, but they'd pay the 
price with taxes that have an annoying way of always increasing.

But decriminalizing marijuana likely won't save enforcement costs.

That's because most of the money in marijuana made by the drug trade 
comes from producing it for export. As long as pot is still illegal 
the United States, there will be organized groups looking to cash in.

And there will still be pressure on authorities to shut those groups 
down and stem the flow.

The drug trade and its accompanying violence won't go away with a 
resolution or the stroke of a pen through existing legislation.
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