Drug policy groups urge task force to endorse retail pot shops and not be swayed by media hysteria

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      Three organizations with deep roots in B.C. have filed submissions to a federal task force maintaining that the government and media "are inflating the role of organized crime" in the marijuana industry.

      Moreover, they stated in an August 9 news release that this is being done "without providing evidence to substantiate the claims". (For details, click the link to the left of this article.)

      In addition, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, the Cannabis Trade Alliance of Canada, and the Craft Cannabis Association of British Columbia have warned that "these opinions could lead to overly restrictive regulations."

      The news release was distributed to coincide with submissions they're making to the task force on marijuana legalization and regulation.

      "We recommend that the government base the new cannabis regulations on the best available evidence, to allow for a balanced approach that further restricts the operation of organized crime, while allowing for the involvement of a variety of independent producers and retailers in the emerging legal market," said CDPC submission coauthor and SFU criminologist Neil Boyd.

      The task force has come under fire in a series of articles on Straight.com written by marijuana-legalization activist Marc Emery. The so-called Prince of Pot has objected to the appointment of former justice minister Anne McLellan as chair, given her outspoken criticism of marijuana legalization when she served in federal cabinets headed by former prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin.

      In addition, Emery has pointed out that McLellan is a "senior advisor" to the law firm Bennett Jones, which has marketed itself as a legal authority on marijuana for federally licensed producers.

      Storefront marijuana operations in Vancouver and other Canadian cities attract clients who might otherwise deal with the licensed producers, which distribute their cannabis products by mail.