Four former Vancouver mayors call for end to "failed policy" of marijuana prohibition

The following letter was released today (November 23) by the Stop the Violence B.C. coalition:

Poll

Should Canada tax and regulate the use of marijuana?

Yes 93%
1321 votes
No 6%
82 votes
Don't know 1%
18 votes

From: Sam Sullivan, Michael Harcourt, Larry Campbell, and Philip Owen

To: All B.C. MPs, MLAs, Mayors and Councillors

Re: Call to Action – Marijuana prohibition and its effects on violent crime, community safety, and the health and well-being of our citizens

As former Mayors of the City of Vancouver, we are asking all elected leaders in British Columbia to speak out about the ineffectiveness and harms of cannabis prohibition.

Marijuana prohibition is – without question – a failed policy. It is creating violent, gang-related crime in our communities and fear among our citizens, and adding financial costs for all levels of government at a time when we can least afford them. Politicians cannot ignore the status quo any longer; they must develop and deliver alternative marijuana policies that avoid the social and criminal harms that stem directly from cannabis prohibition.

Among the most pressing issues is the contribution that cannabis prohibition has made to organized crime and gang violence. The Fraser Institute has estimated that B.C.’s illegal cannabis trade may be worth up to $7 billion dollars annually. This massive illegal market drives violence in communities throughout the province. New thinking, new policies and collaboration across party lines are required to protect our communities and make them safer.

Unfortunately, research and practical experience from Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere clearly demonstrates that increasing anti-cannabis law enforcement strategies will not reduce the availability to young people. Cannabis prohibition has failed globally. While we fully recognize that marijuana is not without health-related harms, the failure of cannabis prohibition to reduce the availability of the drug to young people requires an urgent and novel response.

We agree with the Stop the Violence BC coalition and the criminologists, economists, lawyers, law enforcement and public health experts under its umbrella: we must move from a violent unregulated market to a strictly regulated cannabis market that is based on a public health framework. We believe a legally regulated market for adult cannabis use has the potential to reduce rates of cannabis use while at the same time directly addressing organized crime concerns by starving them of this cash cow. A regulated market would enable governments to improve community health and safety while at the same time raising millions in tax revenue.

The time for action is now. A recent Angus Reid poll demonstrated that 69% of British Columbians believe that chasing and arresting marijuana producers and sellers is ineffective and that British Columbians would be better off taxing and regulating the adult use of marijuana. We fully agree.

Clearly, elected officials are out of step with their public on marijuana prohibition. It is time that elected officials enter the debate and deliver specific proposals to address the easy availability of cannabis to youth and the organized crime concerns stemming directly from cannabis prohibition.

If you agree, please step forward, join this call for change and add your influential voice to the debate. In addition, we encourage you to notify Stop the Violence BC of your endorsement so that they may profile your support and adjust their education efforts accordingly.

If you disagree, there is nevertheless an ethical and moral obligation to join the debate, because the stakes for our communities, our youth and our fellow British Columbians are so high.

Politicians of all stripes – not just at the federal level – must respond before further damage is done to our B.C. communities. We must break the silence on this issue. The status quo must change.

Signed,

Sam Sullivan, Mayor of Vancouver, 2005-2008

Larry Campbell, Mayor of Vancouver, 2002-2005

Philip Owen, Mayor of Vancouver, 1993-2002

Mike Harcourt, Mayor of Vancouver, 1980-1986

Comments (19) Add New Comment
NoLeftNutter
These guys must be on Crack. There's 4 simple reasons why legalizing pot won't have the affect they desire. Potency, prices and potency, the illegal trade and expanded use hiding more illegal trade. If you're not bright enough to figure these out you don't need to get stupider by smoking more pot...
7
9
Rating: -2
Gentleman Jack
Yes, NoLeftNutter, just like how re-legalizing alcohol made things worse!

So, are you on the payroll as a DrugCop, or do you have a basement grow, or are you simply a bit...slow?
6
7
Rating: -1
Michael Brockington
Which former mayor (1986-1993) is missing from this list?


Hint: drug of choice is not marijuana.

8
6
Rating: +2
Rick in Richmond
Here's the problem. If we legalize marijuana, half the drug dealers in the DTES will go broke. All of their clients will be unhappy. The 100 block East Hastings would be empty.

If that change really happened, the applecart would really be upended and the DTES would stop being a special trading zone for addicts and the activists who enable them.

Bad plan, mayors. The DTES is operated as a permanent ghetto by the people who benefit from keeping it as it is. You know, drug dealers, whores, activists. The usual crew.
8
8
Rating: 0
GZLFB
I think they should ban state liquor stores and sin taxes and fully legalize the currently "legal" regulated crap and stop forcing drugs on psych cases before talking about new legalizations. Mass production should not be encouraged, but a single personal weed (the growing part) and an amount that can be argued as planted and offer reasonable doubt should be ordered ignored by the cops.
6
4
Rating: +2
Komodo
re: Rick in Richmond

You realize at least half the pot dealers in Vancouver are high school kids, right? I don't think its a bad thing for them to go broke and focus on other things, like getting an education.

Also you realize the addicts you speak of are on cocaine and heroin..... not marijuna, right?

Also... leave whores and activists out of it you fucking douche.
8
2
Rating: +6
cherrie
clearly, more than a few people here weren't intelligent enough to catch Rick in Richmond's drift.
8
6
Rating: +2
Rick in Richmond
re: Komodo Dragon

You don't seem to have very much sympathy for drug dealers. You don;t even care if they all go bankrupt. They supply half the $ that goes into the DTES. They keep that area in the beautiful state it's in. Without the drug dealers, what would the runners and enforcers and slumlords and activists do for a living?

Holy Kow Komodo. You want the DTES to change?

That's not fair. The DTES runs the way it does because the drug dealers like it that way. 947 drug dealers in 12 city blocks can't be wrong.
7
5
Rating: +2
miguel
The "War On Drugs" is too big to fail, and drug dealing is pure capitalism, and you can't rob entrepreneurs of their livelihood.
Miguel
9
4
Rating: +5
what are you guys dopes
People aren' buying pot off the street its perscription drugs, crack, speed balls and meth etcwhich is no problem to get.
You would be hard pressed to find anything to smoke or cookies to eat when it come to the medical plant especially on the street but medical outlets are now open for many who used to buy off the streets.
12
6
Rating: +6
metroid_dragon
Glad to see that Gregor has joined the call.

https://twitter.com/#!/MayorGregor/status/139908426410102785

It's time to pull our collective heads out of our asses. Prohibition has not, will not, and does not work.
190
4
Rating: +186
Point of Order
Legalize, Sell in the same place you buy your Beer, Tax the crap out of it, demand labeling on packaging showing tested %THC, throw away the keys on anyone that trys to export to other countries or imports non-BC bud without a permit or trys to sell it to kids.
And for you neighsayers, NO I do not smoke, inject, snort or pop any form of intoxicant.
I am an educated individual who realizes that the only people gaining from the War on Drugs are the producers of illegal drugs and the Agencies that justify their budgets by the enforcement of unwinable laws.
9
3
Rating: +6
T.Robbins
I hope I live to see the legalization of marijuana. Alcohol is the deadliest drug ever. Time to get the tax money our communitys so desperately need and admit marijuana is not the bad drug its made out to be. Just like making wine or beer at home we should be able to have a few plants for our own use. This is a free country after all.
8
3
Rating: +5
GZLFB
Alcohol effects less second hand parties. But the problem is doing it like booze means more taxes. I rather the private criminals get it all then the state crooks get a piece of the action. That's all this is about, establishing more sin taxes.
The war on drugs, is on people not drugs or terrorism or crime. It's establishing ends that justify the means in policing, It has failed, but it isn't prohibitive law, but how they enforce it, what they let cops get away with. The Drug War is a myth among criminal wars which is about turf in all things. Protection, et al.... Crime is about end justifying the means, sad thing is they let cops act like criminals to enforce criminal law. Means must justify the end in order to be truly good. As for legalization it's usually the people arguing for making it hard to support it. Of course real legalization isn't what is argued, it's more tax and regulation. Liquor would be better without all the statist crap. Got to finish what was started there. Alcohol isn't worse, unless vaporized. cigarettes may be as bad but more subtle, aside from the plant it comes from. A weed chokes plants. They need to ease up on single user plants and plantable amounts being found and arrested for. Any reasonable doubt situation should evade this. The Mental Health Act should not be used under police assumptions either or no trial and one dube will lead to an addiction detainment. What will Gregor do about forced drugings? The province?
10
4
Rating: +6
mike sunshine coast
why are comments vanishing ?
8
3
Rating: +5
Martin Dunphy
mike sunshine coast:

Comments on this site must not breach any of the restrictions outlined in our Comments Disclaimer (link below).
That being said, we did have some minor trouble last Wednesday and Thursday with the erasure of a few isolated, unrelated posts. We have been working to ensure that does not happen again.
Our apologies if yours was one of them in the meantime.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. It will be dealt with as soon as possible.
There is no need for anyone to be hesitant to post. To the best of our knowledge, only a very few comments were affected.

Oh, and pay no attention to that man behind the curtain...

Have a nice day.
9
3
Rating: +6
GZLFB
True, some of the agree and disagree things vanished too. Although, if I may suggest, just making the comment the responsibility of the poster not the paper. They said it not you. Even the responsibility of the article writer (in regards to an article).
7
5
Rating: +2
Dinsurrey
Rick in Richmond. "The DTES is operated as a permanent ghetto by the people who benefit from keeping it as it is.You know, drug dealers, whores, activists. The usual crew". Trafficers utilize it, drug addicts and those currently living in poverty are victimized in it, but it is run by others who profit from it. Does anyone reading this remember or know what the dtes looked like 30 years ago? it wasn't always this way. Drug dealers and "whores" didn't create it. Who owns the hotels in the dtes? I believe the same man owns and runs a few of Vancouver's worst hotels...by worst I mean dirtiest, cheapest, drug/ dealer infested, etc. Whoever owns these run down locations clearly profits the most directly, as 90% of their rooms are rented out in the name of selling and doing drugs (heroin, crack, meth etc...people there don't waste as much time with weed, far different "high" and there's no phsyical addiction involved) the other 10% of rooms are probably rented out to those down on their luck(poverty). Do some research rick from richmond, don't try using scapegoat methods either.
6
17
Rating: -11
GZLFB
True, politicians have a lot to gain to have problems to point out that they will never do anything about.
9
3
Rating: +6
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.