Pubdate: Thu, 29 Aug 2013
Source: Free Press, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013, Sun Media
Author: Angela Treharne


News that the RCMP busted a small Fernie grow op last week stirred up
mixed responses among readers. Some readers feel that cracking down on
these small grow ops is a total waste of police time and taxpayers
money, but others say these people are criminals as bad as any others
and should be taken down.

Short of looking the other way, the police still have no option but to
charge casual marijuana users with simple possession. It's a criminal
activity, even if the grow op is not involved in trafficking. That
means costly paperwork for the cops, yet more strain on the overtaxed
justice system and criminal convictions and records that can adversely
affect citizenship, jobs and travel. It's also hugely inefficient.
Barely half of drug-related cases result in convictions.

And, of course, taxpayers are footing the bill.

However you feel about it, it's hard to argue against the initiative
currently being toured around the province by Sensible BC.

The Vancouver-based group has prepared legislation called The Sensible
Policing Act, which would effectively decriminalize marijuana by
stopping B.C. police from making searches or arrests for simple
possession. The law also calls upon the federal government to repeal
marijuana prohibition, so that B.C. can legally regulate its
cultivation and sale.

The proposed law has been accepted by Elections BC, and the group will
have 90 days to collect signatures from 10 per cent of the registered
voters in every electoral district, beginning September 9.

The Sensible BC-commissioned study touted by the group indicates that
more than $10 million is spent on enforcement annually. That figure
wouldn't disappear entirely by decriminalizing simple possession, but
a least a good chunk of that total could probably be directed into
more pressing police concerns.

Pot is big business in B.C. and in Canada, and allowing such a
commodity to go unregulated and untaxed is a lost opportunity for taxpayers.

But, let's not forget, there are health risks linked to smoking
marijuana. These include dependency problems, mental heath problems
and lung damage. It can cause paranoia in the short term, and in those
with a pre-existing psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia, it can
contribute to relapse. Like alcohol, it's not something that benefits
society, but that doesn't mean it should be illegal. Just because
something is legalized, it doesn't mean everyone is going to take it
up as their new hobby.

Sensible BC have 90 days to collect over 400,000 signatures. If they
collect those signatures, the Sensible Policing Act can be brought to
a referendum in September 2014.

Sensible B.C.'s initiative is an ambitious one, and may be futile
without finding support in all corners of the province.
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MAP posted-by: Matt