BC MLA speaks out against marijuana prohibition in short film, joins Stop the Violence BC
Vancouver, BC [October 18, 2012] — Kash Heed, a long-time law enforcement official and MLA, is calling for the legalization and taxation of cannabis to better protect communities and reduce related organized crime activity resulting from the illegal marijuana trade.
In a video and written statement released today, Kash Heed shared his experiences about the devastating consequences of cannabis prohibition, based on his 31 years in law enforcement as a beat cop, a police chief, and head of both the Vancouver Police Department Drug Unit and Indo-Canadian Gang Violence Task Force.
“In the early 1990s, I began to fully recognize the futility and the social, economic and public health costs of continuing marijuana prohibition,” wrote Heed in the statement. “And I came to one inescapable conclusion—cannabis prohibition fuels gang violence in B.C. In fact, costly law enforcement efforts have only served to drive the marijuana industry deeper into the hands of violent organized crime groups.”
In his statement, Heed announced that he is joining Stop the Violence BC (STVBC), a coalition of academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts, and its campaign to reform cannabis laws to reduce the harms associated with the illegal cannabis trade, including gang violence. He joins a growing list of endorsements that includes a coalition of B.C. mayors, the Health Officers Council of B.C., four former mayors of Vancouver and former B.C. attorneys general. His statement follows the passing last month of a Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) resolution calling for the decriminalization of cannabis.
“It shows real political courage that Kash Heed, as a sitting member of a provincial legislature, has decided to speak out against these failed laws,” said Geoff Plant, who served as B.C. attorney general from 2001 to 2005. “It’s time for the rest of our political leaders to follow his lead and act on the overwhelming evidence linking marijuana prohibition to organized crime and gang violence.”
Kash Heed is the MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview. He is urging his current and former colleagues to improve community health and safety by overturning marijuana prohibition.
“I plan to use my remaining time in office to reach out to our provincial leaders and ensure that replacing cannabis prohibition with a more effective public health and safety strategy becomes a part of the public debate in the next provincial election,” said Heed. “Despite the effort to pass the buck to the federal government, this is a provincial issue—organized crime has been fuelled by B.C.’s failed marijuana policies, leading to gang violence, destructive grow-ops and easy access to marijuana for youth in each and every one of our communities.”
The video was produced and directed by Pete McCormack, an award winning filmmaker based in Vancouver.
“Evidence against marijuana prohibition is staggering: police fight impossible odds and the current approach is hypocritical, a tax-paying sinkhole that causes unintentional yet very real collateral damage and violence. And for what?” said McCormack. “To get the chance to interview Kash Heed, who has been right there in it, was inspiring to me as a filmmaker. If this video can influence other politicians’ and inspire contemporary drug policies, that would be amazing.”
- Media can download the Kash Heed video here.
- Watch the video here.
- Read the full Kash Heed statement here.
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About Stop the Violence BC
Stop the Violence BC is a coalition of law enforcement officials, legal experts, public health officials and academic experts from the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria and the University of Northern BC. Coalition members have come together to engage all British Columbians in a discussion aimed at developing and implementing marijuana-related policies that improve public health while reducing social harms, including violent crime. For a full listing of coalition members and to learn more about the coalition, please click here.
For more information about Stop the Violence BC or to interview a coalition member, please contact:
604 682 2344 ext 66536