Pubdate: Thu, 03 Oct 2013
Source: Creston Valley Advance (CN BC)
Contact:  This is the Life
Copyright: 2013 Black Press
Author: Lorne Eckersley


For all the interest it seems to have generated in news media, the 
campaign to ultimately decriminalize marijuana use, possession and 
sales in the province is highly unlikely to gain public support, at 
least in sufficient numbers to force a referendum on the issue.

Among the plans of Sensible BC, the organization proposes provincial 
legislation it calls the Sensible Policing Act. It would involve 
"stopping arrests for marijuana possession, and focusing police 
resources on fighting real crime," according to organizer Dana Larsen.

The first problem is identifiable right in the name of Larsen's 
group. Using "sensible" is akin to using the phrase "common sense", 
because it presumes a black and white perspective on an issue that 
has more greys than anything else.

Personally, I think it's time to call a halt to the War on Drugs (and 
any other public policy that includes the word war, for that matter). 
 From pretty much any perspective, it's impossible to deny that the 
War on Drugs has been an abject failure. Marijuana, the softest of 
all illegal drugs, is easier to get after nearly a century of 
prohibition than it ever has been. The populace has spoken - people 
in general don't buy the bogeyman arguments about marijuana. They 
like the feeling they get when they inhale and they have been more 
than willing to take legal risks to get that feeling.

The real question is, do we want to legalize it, to toss out all 
legislation to do with a plant that is apparently as easy to grow as 

I vote no. But not because I am completely enamoured of government 
sticking its nose into the private lives of citizens. There seems to 
be sufficient evidence that the use of marijuana at a young age can 
indeed have a deleterious effect on brain development. Unless and 
until I am convinced that information is wrong, I don't want to tell 
people who aren't adults that it's OK to light up, in public or in 
their own strobe-lit basements, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida blasting out from 
the stereo and bags of Hawkins Cheezies at the ready. (Oh, wait, did 
I just have a flashback?)

My solution is a more pragmatic one. Legalize and regulate the weed, 
just as we have done, with admittedly mixed success, with alcohol. 
Let's at least show some effort in keeping it out of the hands of 
youngsters whose brains still have a chance to form fully. But also 
let's take this rare opportunity to pad the taxman's coffers. At the 
very least it might turn aging baby boomers away from griping about 
their tax bills and toward toking up to make sure government pensions 
are sufficiently funded until they themselves qualify.

I'm not the only one who feels that way, of course. For decades, 
Liberal Senator Larry Campbell has been saying the same thing. The 
former mayor of Vancouver, ex-police officer and coroner says 
decriminalization doesn't make any sense. Kash Heed, a former 
solicitor-general and police chief says the same thing.

In talking to the local RCMP detachment commander, Staff Sgt. Bob 
Gollan, he is of the opinion that Sensible BC is anything but 
sensible. Gollan doesn't get into whether he agrees with 
legalization, but insists that enacting provincial legislation to 
prevent police officers from enforcing marijuana laws is a 
non-starter. Federal legislation takes precedence over that of junior 
governments when it comes to the Criminal Code of Canada, he argues, 
and any change in laws addressing crime has to come from the 
Parliament of Canada, and nowhere else.

Instead, Gollan speaks in favour of being able to ticket minor 
offenders of the Criminal Code's ban on marijuana possession. It's a 
tool that police use to keep alcohol use and possession in control, 
and it would be preferable to the situation police now find 
themselves in, where they are reduced to simply destroying small 
amounts of marijuana found in the possession of people they stop. 
Then they simply walk away, feeling helpless because recommending 
charges is fruitless - Crown Counsel adamantly refuses to prosecute 
charges on small amounts of marijuana possession because a) the 
courts are already backed up and b) judges have long since stopped 
attempting to use fines and jail sentences to stop what is 
essentially a tidal wave of victimless crime.

If marijuana was legalized and regulated it would be less attractive 
to organized crime. Bootlegging went the way of the dodo bird when 
alcohol prohibition laws were repealed. Other, more progressive 
countries have actually moved away from treating the use of any 
non-prescription drugs as a crime, choosing to view addictions or 
perceived need as medical, not legal issues. Fundamentally, a 
conservative-leaning government, committed to reducing the 
omnipresence of government in private lives, should be leading the 
way on this issue. Somehow, I can't see that happening.
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