The made-in-B.C. campaign to have marijuana legalized and marketed to adults is to get another boost Wednesday, when a letter of support penned by four former attorneys general for the province is officially released.
The letter is addressed to B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Adrian Dix, Leader of the Opposition in Victoria, and is signed by Colin Gableman, Ujjal Dosanjh, Graeme Bowbrick and Geoff Plant. It was sent to reporters on Monday by a public relations firm, along with a request to keep a lid on things until Wednesday.
“As former B.C. Attorneys General, we are fully aware that British Columbia lost its war against the marijuana industry many years ago,” the letter begins. “The case demonstrating the failure and harms of marijuana prohibition is airtight.”
The letter blames marijuana prohibition for a host of societal ills, including organized crime, gang violence, “easy access to illegal cannabis for our youth,” plus costs to taxpayers in the form of “misguided prosecutions.” Legalize it, regulate its sale, tax it, reap big rewards. Watch all of the problems associated with marijuana just go away. If only it were that easy.
The same pro-legalization arguments were made in November by four former Vancouver mayors, in an almost-identical letter to B.C. politicians, again part of a campaign organized by a coalition called Stop the Violence BC.
Why they continue to direct their message to provincial lawmakers is a bit of a mystery, since marijuana prohibition is a federal matter. Perhaps they’ve decided that lobbying the Harper government is a non-starter, so why bother. It’s also a bit rich: None of the former attorneys general had much to say — if anything at all — in favour of marijuana legalization while in office.
It was only two years ago that Mr. Dosanjh, then a Liberal MP, told a local newspaper that legalization was a non-starter. The Georgia Straight reported that he had “dismissed ending the prohibition of marijuana as a means of eliminating the criminal element. ‘Look, there’s not a panacea in this case…I know there are people who believe that just because we legalize this, somehow it’s going to go away. I don’t think there’s a panacea.’”
Something made him change his mind, join the coalition and stand behind the claim that the case against prohibition is actually “airtight.”
Stop the Violence BC says it wants to initiate “discussion.” That’s great. Discussion is needed, so let’s look at a study from Dalhousie University, published last week in the British Medical Journal. It found that driving under the influence of marijuana nearly doubles the risk of a fatal accident.
There are sound arguments to be made for decriminalizing marijuana possession and, it should follow in certain cases, the cultivation of marijuana. But the legalize-it-now crowd chooses to downplay or completely ignore the alarming impacts that pot consumption can have on human health. On the lungs, the heart, the brain.
Advocates assume the criminal element would vanish if pot was regulated by government, and they assume that children would no longer have “easy access” to the drug. What is needed most — and what is feasible, right now — are campaigns aimed at discouraging people from using and abusing a harmful substance. Campaigns that have proven to be effective with tobacco and alcohol. Surely, all the harms caused by marijuana — not simply its prohibition — are worth discussing, as are strategies that would limit them.
Feb 14, 2012
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Campaign to legalize pot gets four new out-of-office adherents