HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Legalize Marijuana, Conference Agrees
Pubdate: Mon, 10 May 2004
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Amy O'Brian
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Beyond Prohibition Group Says Making Pot Legal And Levying Hefty Taxes 
Would Benefit National Economy

VANCOUVER - A senator, a former police officer and Vancouver's mayor were 
among those calling for the legalization of marijuana at a weekend conference.

The diverse crowd at Beyond Prohibition, a conference put on by the B.C. 
Civil Liberties Association, gathered early Saturday morning to hear 
arguments for the legalization of marijuana, and to exchange ideas on how 
to make legalization successful.

Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell started off the day with a personal 
disclaimer that he has never "inhaled," followed by a bold proposal for 

"I would legalize this and tax the living hell out of it," Campbell said. 
"And I would ensure that every single dollar, every dollar of that tax went 
into the health care system."

Similar sentiments were shared by the other speakers, who argued that 
lifting the marijuana prohibition would benefit the national economy, boost 
tax revenue, and free up police resources to target organized crime and 
others who profit from the current illegal drug trade.

Walter McKay, a former Vancouver police officer who is now working on a PhD 
at the University of B.C., argued that all illegal drugs -- not just 
marijuana -- should be legalized and regulated.

"Far too much time, money and resources are being spent keeping a product 
away that the public wants," he said in an interview after his presentation.

"We tried this with prohibition 70 years ago and failed miserably. All we 
did was make Al Capone a multimillionaire. We just never learned."

If drugs were legalized and dispensed responsibly, McKay said, police could 
turn their focus to stopping organized crime.

"That's where policing is required. We need to stop these shootings and 

McKay envisions a world where marijuana would be sold to adults only at 
regulated outlets such as liquor stores, while harder drugs such as heroin, 
cocaine and methamphetamines would be available through doctors and 

"It's a social issue and it's been made a criminal issue for over 30 years 
and we've seen the results of it," he said.

Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on 
Illegal Drugs, argued that prohibition's consequences have gone "way beyond 
health problems and the growth of organized crime" and now threaten "the 
basis of democracy, economy and the rule of law in many countries or 
regions of the world."

Nolin said he lobbied former prime minister Jean Chretien and is lobbying 
current Prime Minister Paul Martin to legalize marijuana in a responsible, 
regulated manner that would incorporate policies on education and prevention.

Despite his push for legalization, Nolin is opposed to Bill C-10, which 
would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The legislation would mean people could not be charged with a criminal 
offence for possessing pot, but could be given a ticket.

Instead, Nolin would like to see absolute legalization.

"When the policy is zero tolerance, it's stupid."

Nolin said adequate education and prevention programs cannot be established 
with a zero tolerance policy and the federal government needs to listen to 
the public's demands for legalization.

"Government reacts to populations. It's not the other way around," he said.
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