February 14, 2012
Former B.C. politicians support legal pot
By Michael Mui, QMI Agency
VANCOUVER -- Four former B.C. attorneys general support taxing and regulating pot and are for calling political leaders in the province to do the same.
The ex-attorneys general, Geoff Plant, Graeme Bowbrick, Ujjal Dosanjh and Colin Gabelmann, sent a letter to Premier Christy Clark and B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix Tuesday. Together, the four represents the province’s chief prosecutors from 1991 to 2005.
“The British Columbian government and B.C. political parties can put pressure on the government in Ottawa. If consensus is developed across the country, then the federal government acts,” Dosanjh said of the request.
The former B.C. premier said “unprecedented” support to legalize the weed has surfaced in recent years, including from four former Vancouver mayors, B.C.’s Health Officers Council, the Fraser Institute, and a trend in the U.S. to decriminalize the drug in some states.
In the letter, the former attorneys general ask Clark and Dix to “encourage the federal government to abandon mandatory minimum sentences for minor and non-violent marijuana-related offences, and instead pursue a taxation and regulation strategy.”
The letters say that following the suggestions would free up valuable court time and potentially destabilize the organized criminal drug trade. Copies were also sent to members of Parliament in B.C., as marijuana laws are a federal jurisdiction.
According to Simon Fraser University criminologist Neil Boyd, Canadian courts see an average of 40,000 charges for marijuana possession annually — a number he says is too high.
“We’re looking at costs of enforcement, the cost of a police officer appearing, the cost of analysis of the drug, we’re looking at court time. There’s no doubt there’s a drain on resources,” he said.
“Leaning towards regulation would take the entire industry, the cultivation and the trafficking all out of court. It would reduce the violence associated with the trade.”
At a press conference Tuesday, however, Clark said stepping into the conversation about marijuana laws is not her responsibility.
“I am going to leave the marijuana debate to the federal government,” she told reporters. “It’s in the sole role, sole sphere of responsibility.”