By Alfa · Jun 10, 2004 · ·
  1. Alfa

    Think-Tank: Revenue Would Be $2b a Year; War on Drugs Is Lost Anyway,
    Fraser Institute Says

    Marijuana should be legalized and then taxed like any other product,
    says a study by an economic think-tank.

    The Fraser Institute estimates such a move would easily generate more
    than $2 billion a year in additional tax revenue.

    All that would really change is that governments, rather than
    criminals, would enjoy the spoils, argues the study being released
    today by the Vancouver-based institute.

    The potential tax revenue is based on the study's estimate that in
    British Columbia alone, the annual marijuana crop, if valued at retail
    street prices and sold by the cigarette, is worth more than $7 billion.

    "Using conservative assumptions about Canadian consumption, this could
    translate into potential revenues for the government of over $2
    billion," states the study. "In British Columbia -- as in other
    provinces, notably Quebec and Ontario, it is a significant crop that
    fuels organized crime."

    Study author Stephen Easton, professor of economics at Simon Fraser
    University and a senior fellow at the institute, estimates that there
    are as many as 17,500 marijuana grow operations in B.C. alone.

    Marijuana is widely produced and about one quarter of Canadians admit
    to having used it, the study says. As such, the broader social
    question has become not whether to approve or disapprove of
    production, but rather who should enjoy the spoils.

    "If we treat marijuana like any other commodity we can tax it,
    regulate it, and use the resources the industry generates, rather than
    continue a war against consumption and production that has long since
    been lost," said Mr. Easton. "It is apparent that we are reliving the
    experience of alcohol prohibition of the early years of the last century."

    In British Columbia, indoor marijuana cultivation and consumption
    appear to be higher than in the rest of Canada, it notes. The most
    striking difference is that only 13 per cent of offenders in the
    province are actually charged while that number climbs to 60 per cent
    for the rest of Canada.

    In addition, the penalties for conviction in B.C. are low, it said.
    Fifty-five per cent of those convicted receive no jail time.

    While police resources are spent to destroy nearly 3,000 marijuana
    grow operations a year in B.C., the consequences are relatively minor
    for those convicted, it says. The industry is simply too profitable to
    prevent new people moving into production and old producers from rebuilding.

    A modest grow-operation of 100 plants generates $80,000 a year in
    gross revenues, with production costs of about $25,000. It currently
    costs $1.50 to produce a marijuana cigarette, which sells for $8.60.

    "Unless we wish to continue the transfer of these billions from this
    lucrative endeavour to organized crime, the current policy on
    prohibition should be changed," it says.

    Two years ago, a Senate report also urged the government to end its
    prohibition on the drug and implement a system to regulate its
    production, distribution and consumption.

    A federal bill that would have decriminalized marijuana use, but
    imposed harsher penalties on growers, died with the calling of the


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  1. sands of time
    I wrote a paper like this for school once. The teacher actually thanked me for enlightening her on the subject. She told me she had never heard the other side of the story, just the pot is bad stance, ect, that the govt likes to put in peoples heads. She said it showed her that our govt is far from perfect.
  2. Alfa
    Marijuana is freely available in the Netherlands and we have far less cannabis users per 1000 inhabitants than the US. Decriminalisation leads to less use. If you have a legal and a illegal substance at hand, which of those two would you choose to consume? Which would you guess has the strongest effect?
  3. Alfa

    There is possibly $2 billion in tax revenue to be had from the
    legalization of marijuana, but not all federal candidates think that's
    reason enough to decriminalize it.

    Candidates at an all-candidates forum at the Kelowna Drop-In Centre
    Wednesday were quizzed on their view of legalizing marijuana, given
    the Fraser Institute's report that the industry could net $2 billion
    in taxes annually for Canada.

    MP Werner Schmidt, of the Conservative Party, said there may be
    taxation revenue from pot sales, but the country would end up paying
    more for services to combat the negative effects of the drug.

    "There's anecdotal information and research that suggest the
    legalization of soft drugs leads to harder drugs," he said.

    "Once they're addicted, there's all kinds of social costs."

    Michael Cassidyne-Hook of the Canadian Action Party said the proximity
    to the U.S. has to be considered.

    The U.S. doesn't support legalization and having that country next
    door might pose problems.

    "It's impractical with that geopolitical reality," he said.

    Proponents of legalization were Starleigh Grass of the NDP and Kevin
    Ade of the Green Party.

    Grass said if there's no one charged with marijuana violations, it
    would clear out some room in the courts.

    "It would save tax dollars as these cases go through the legal system," she

    Ade said the tax revenue would be welcome and didn't think Canada's
    policies should be dictated by how close it is to the U.S.

    Liberal candidate Vern Nielsen was not at the meeting but said he
    would be in favour of decriminalizing marijuana, but not making it
    legal. He pointed out that pot may be used for health reasons or in
    small amounts and people should not be charged for that. However,
    trafficking should be a criminal offence.
  4. Alfa

    Those who want to see marijuana legalized can feel reasonably comfortable
    voting for any mainstream candidate in Kelowna, other than Conservative
    incumbent Werner Schmidt.

    Schmidt, reacting to a report from the Fraser Institute that calls for
    legalization and taxation of marijuana, said the organization is basing its
    proposal on "bad science." "I know from personal experience in education
    that legalization of soft drugs is often a precursor for harder drugs,"
    Schmidt said Wednesday.

    "This is a matter of science. I would need to be convinced by
    incontrovertible scientific evidence that this is a good thing to do. I
    haven't seen that evidence." The Fraser Institute said in a report released
    Wednesday that the government could earn $2 billion a year in revenue if
    marijuana were legalized and taxed.

    It's not a question of whether Canadians approve or disapprove of marijuana
    use, said report author Steven Easton.

    "I think it's like prohibition in the U.S. in that period, in the sense
    we've tried to suppress marijuana use," said Easton, a professor of
    economics at Simon Fraser University and a senior fellow at the Fraser
    Institute. "If we treat marijuana like any other commodity, we can tax it,
    regulate it, and use the resources the industry generates rather than
    continue a war against consumption and production that has long since been
    lost." Local candidates representing the Liberals, NDP and Greens support a
    change to current drug laws as they apply to pot.

    "I'm in favour of decriminalizing marijuana, but not legalizing it," said
    Kelowna Liberal candidate Vern Nielsen, a businessman. "The penalty for use
    would be more along the line of a speeding ticket than a criminal sentence.

    "I think further research is needed on the effects of marijuana use, though
    it should be made available in special cases where it's medically necessary
    as a painkiller."

    Kelowna NDP candidate Starleigh Grass agrees with the report's recommendations.

    "Absolutely, it should be legalized. We should legalize it, regulate it and
    tax it. We waste precious time and money in the legal system now," she
    said. "Pot has been demonized. As a society, we need to recognize that it's
    not as harmful as alcohol," said Grass, a university student

    Green candidate Kevin Ade said his party has supported legalization of
    marijuana f
    or years. "We believe it would be a great source of tax revenue
    as well as reducing criminal problems and reducing stress in urban areas

    "I don't see why it couldn't be sold through the liquor stores or anywhere
    else," said Ade, an artist and daycare worker. "It would have to be a
    controlled venue, of course."

    Canadian Action Party candidate Michael Cassidyne-Hook said there are
    better ways to raise revenue than marijuana sales. "We certainly wouldn't
    want to legalize marijuana just to realize tax revenue," he said. "A better
    way to do that is to give the Bank of Canada the ability to print
    low-interest money."

    Huguette Plourde, the Marijuana Party candidate for Kelowna, could not be
    reached for comment on what she might do with the pot tax revenue.
  5. Alfa

    The controversy about making marijuana a legal drug has heated up as
    the Fraser Institute sent out a release supporting legalization
    Wednesday, only to deny the advocacy hours later.

    "Marijuana should be decriminalized, treated like any legal product,
    and the revenue taxed," the release stated. "Using conservative
    assumptions about Canadian consumption, this could translate into
    potential revenues for the government of over $2 billion."

    The release was based on a study written by the institute's senior
    fellow, Stephen Easton, an economics professor at Simon Fraser University.

    But Easton said the press release was wrong.

    "The text does not call for anything specific," he said. "The issue of
    legalization is discussed in the paper, but there's no advocacy in the

    The professor estimates that there are about 17,500 marijuana grow-ops
    in B.C. and that B.C.'s annual marijuana crop could yield $7 billion
    if valued at street prices and sold by the cigarette.

    More than 23 per cent of Canadians admitted to having experimented
    with the drug, according to his findings.

    One of Easton's options for dealing with this is to legalize it and
    invest the money now spent on law enforcement in other projects.

    The study comes after a year of heated debate on the drug's status in

    In 2003, the federal government introduced a bill that would remove
    criminal penalties for people possessing up to 15 grams of marijuana,
    replacing the punishments with fines.

    But since Paul Martin became Prime Minister, the bill has died on the
    order paper. Now MP candidates in the Cariboo-Prince George riding are
    once again shoving the issue into the political limelight.

    "We feel that Canadians have already spoken about this bad law
    (against marijuana)," said the Green party's Doug Gook at Quesnel
    Secondary School last week. "Bad laws stay on the books until enough
    people defy them."

    "I've named the possibilities: Toque, toke, tourism," added Gook.

    Bev Collins of the Canadian Action party agreed that pot should be
    legalized in order for the government to cash in on the $7-billion

    NDP candidate Rick Smith agrees with legalization, but says the drug
    should be regulated, with part of the revenue allocated to substance
    abuse education.

    Only Dick Harris of the Conservative party argued that pot shoul
    remain illegal, and said he won't consider supporting
    decriminalization until there are laws to address driving while under
    the influence.

    Staff Sgt. Keith Hildebrand of the Quesnel RCMP agrees that
    legalization would increase the risk of other drug-related crimes.

    "It's a dangerous drug," said Hildebrand. "I would certainly not be in
    favour (of legalization.)"
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