Pubdate: Mon, 05 Nov 2012
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Ian Austin


Washington, Oregon and Colorado Considering Legalization

While Barack Obama and Mitt Romney make most of the U.S. headlines, a 
referendum in Washington state may have a more profound effect on 
British Columbians.

The multibillion-dollar B.C. bud industry is watching carefully as 
Washington, Oregon and Colorado vote on whether to legalize marijuana.

Pot watchers believe Washington stands the best chance of legalizing 
the drug, which would immediately affect B.C.'s growers and exporters 
as well as the ongoing campaign to decriminalize marijuana in B.C.

"It's likely there's going to be pretty significant changes," SFU 
criminology professor Neil Boyd said if Washingtonians legalize pot. 
"There is a big gap between the science and the marijuana laws.

"For most people in most cases, it's much less problematic than 
alcohol, tobacco, or many prescription drugs.

"It's probably a more useful drug than many of the drugs that stores 
are selling."

Jodie Emery, a pot activist along with her husband Marc, said she 
believes the three states are now leading Canada, once thought of as 
a leader in pot reform.

"People always said we couldn't legalize pot in Canada without the 
U.S. doing it, too," she said. "Now, the U.S. is leading the way."

Emery said the sickening cycle of drug-related violence is turning 
the public tide.

"It's not so much a pro-pot message anymore - it's an 
anti-prohibition message," she said. "Prohibition is making gangsters 
rich. The momentum is really growing."

Dana Larsen hopes a win in Washington will help his current campaign 
to put pot decriminalization to a B.C.-wide vote in September 2014.

"I think it'll have a huge effect if Washington does," said Larsen, 
whose "Sensible B.C." campaign will be heading out into the street 
next September, hoping to have the same effect the anti-HST forces 
did in forcing a public vote.

"That will have a big impact in the United States, Canada and British 

Survey results released last week show that three out of four British 
Columbians now support the decriminalization of marijuana.

The influential "Stop the Violence B.C." lobby group has recruited 
politicians of all stripes to advocate for marijuana reform, focusing 
in on the needless loss of life due to the ongoing war for control of 
the super lucrative B.C. drug trade.

Estimates of the value of B.C.'s marijuana crop range from $6 million 
to $8 billion - much of it destined for export south of the border.

In B.C., Washington and Oregon, there is a divide of sorts.

Urban voters tend to support decriminalization/legalization, while 
marijuana reform tends to be a tougher sell in more conservative rural areas.

The U.S. election is set for Tuesday.

Also in Washington state, voters will decide whether the state will 
join a growing list of jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal.

Vancouver initially became a major destination for gay couples to 
marry when it legalized same-sex marriage, but its importance and 
popularity as a gay-marriage destination has declined as legalization 
has spread to many other prominent cities and regions.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom