Pubdate: Wed, 24 Oct 2012
Source: North Shore News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 North Shore News
Author: Jane Seyd


WEST Vancouver MLA Joan McIntyre and former West Vancouver police 
chief Kash Heed have both come out in favour of legalizing marijuana.

The two politicians - neither of whom are running in the next 
provincial election - both went public with their views in the past week.

"As a society, I really think it's time we look at these issues in a 
different way," said McIntyre, who added she's been in favour of 
legalizing pot for some time.

McIntyre said legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana would cut 
down on the gang violence fuelled by organized crime's control of and 
profit from illegal drugs.

"We would be way better off to tax and regulate it," she said.

McIntyre said she was prompted to speak up after Heed released a 
video on the same topic.

McIntyre said she wanted to add her voice to a "critical mass" of 
people speaking up on the topic.

"If you don't get enough people from different directions . . . 
urging people to take a look at this . . . there won't be any 
change," she said.

Heed, who was West Vancouver's police chief prior to entering 
politics in 2009, released his own video advocating pot legalization 
last week in conjunction with the group Stop The Violence B.C.

Heed said his 30 years of experience in law enforcement, including 
time heading up Vancouver's drug squad, have convinced him the war on 
drugs is pointless.

Heed said in the video his squad's record-breaking number of arrests 
"did not make an iota of difference" because "there's far too much 
money to be made" selling illegal drugs.

Heed said many police officers privately share his views but "they 
publicly will not say it until they leave policing" or risk hurting 
their careers.

When he appeared before a Senate committee in 2001 and advocated for 
marijuana regulation, Heed said "I took significant heat from others 
in the law enforcement community."

"Hypocrisy is rampant," he said on the video.

"We as citizens of Canada need to stand up and advocate for 
contemporary drug policies."

West Vancouver Police Chief Peter Lepine said he wouldn't comment 
directly on the statements of either Heed or McIntyre.

The issue of marijuana legalization is for government to decide, he 
said. "That's a political discussion," he said. "We enforce the law 
as it exists on the books."

Lepine said he agrees with arguments for decriminalizing simple 
possession of small amounts of marijuana. "To make simple marijuana 
possession illegal is not worth the hassle," he said.

But Lepine said he hasn't been convinced by arguments that making 
marijuana legal to produce and sell would cut down on gang violence. 
As long as gangsters could still sell pot cheaper than regulated 
marijuana there would be a profit to fuel gang activity, he said.

Jane Thornthwaite, MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour, said she thinks 
the issue of pot legalization is worth a political discussion.

But she said gang activity would still be fuelled by profits from 
selling other illegal drugs.

South of the border, voters in Washington State will vote on a ballot 
measure next month that, if approved, would set the stage for 
legalization of marijuana there.

The measure would see marijuana legalized, heavily taxed and sold to 
adults over 21 at state-licensed stores.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom