Union of BC Municipalities to vote on marijuana decriminalization resolution

The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), the largest annual gathering of BC mayors and councillors, will be voting on Resolution A5 on Wednesday, September 26. The resolution calls for UBCM to lobby the appropriate government to decriminalize marijuana and research its regulation and taxation.

On Monday, September 24, a debate over the marijuana decriminalization featuring members of the Stop the Violence BC coalition will take place at the convention. Former B.C. attorney general Geoff Plant, Stop the Violence BC founder Dr. Evan Wood and police officer David Bratzer will argue their opposition to marijuana prohibition, and noting its role in fueling gang violence, driving up law enforcement and related costs for municipalities, and failing to protect public safety.

Debate panelists will include:

  • Dr. Evan Wood, Stop the Violence BC, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
  • Geoff Plant, Stop the Violence BC, Lawyer
  • Constable David Bratzer, Stop the Violence BC, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
  • Dr. Darryl Plecas, University of Fraser Valley
  • Dave Williams, Drug Enforcement Branch, RCMP “E” Division
  • Pat Slack, Commander, Snohomosh County Drug Task Force, Washington State

The debate will take place from 9:00am to 12:00pm, at the Victoria Convention Centre (720 Douglas St.), Saanich Room, Level 1.

Below is the full text of Resolution A5.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to hear the result of next Wednesday’s big vote.

 

A5 DECRIMINALIZATION OF MARIJUANA

WHEREAS marijuana prohibition is a failed policy which has cost millions of dollars in police, court, jail and social costs;

AND WHEREAS the decriminalization and regulation of marijuana would provide tax revenues:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM call on the appropriate government to decriminalize marijuana and research the regulation and taxation of marijuana.

ENDORSED BY THE ASSOCIATION OF VANCOUVER ISLAND & COASTAL COMMUNITIES

UBCM RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION: No Recommendation

UBCM RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE COMMENTS: The Resolutions Committee advises that the UBCM membership has not previously considered a resolution requesting the decriminalization of marijuana. The Committee would observe that based on current police information, BC is responsible for 40% of the marijuana produced in Canada, and 80-95% of marijuana produced in BC is exported illegally into the UnitedStates. Based on police information, the marijuana industry in BC is currently operated by criminal gangs who sell or exchange the marijuana produced in BC with criminal gangs in the United States for cocaine and guns.

The membership has considered other resolutions on marijuana, however, these have been focused on ensuring that those licensed to cultivate and process marijuana for medical purposes comply with local government bylaws as well as electrical, fire, health, safety and building regulations.

The Committee notes that a pre-conference session will be held on Monday morning, September 24, 2012 to discuss the decriminalization of marijuana.

What coalition members are saying

Past and current members of law enforcement and the legal community

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David Bratzer, Police Officer and Board of Directors, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:

“Marijuana prohibition may be well-intentioned, but my personal opinion is that it has failed in BC and around the world. Prohibition has created a huge and violent criminal enterprise that is becoming more dangerous with each passing day, and I strongly support controlled marijuana legalization as an effective way to fight crime and protect our communities.”

Vince Cain, Retired RCMP Chief Superintendent and Former BC Chief Coroner:

“As a retired RCMP Chief Superintendent and Chief Coroner for British Columbia, I have witnessed the devastating human consequences, and social and economic costs, attributable to this drug prohibition. In BC, much of the organized crime and interrelated violence springs from marijuana prohibition. Well past the point of no return, common sense cries out to replace the long tried, but failed, model, with a public health vision and plan. A multi-disciplinary approach to these long standing issues will largely eliminate organized crime (gang) profits, generate public tax revenue and establish more positive, constructive avenues of control for all affected agencies. There is no time like the present.”

Ross Lander, Retired Justice, BC Supreme Court:

“I have read the report produced by the Stop Violence B.C. Coalition. With its contents I agree in all respects. I am providing this statement as a now retired Justice of the Supreme Court ofBritish Columbia and the opinions expressed are my thoughts alone as a citizen of Canada. The word futile is the most apt word to describe the long and unsuccessful “War on Drugs.” My experience as a trial judge has shown me that greed is a primary motivation of drug dealers who are averse to honest labour and obtaining tax free income from trafficking in cannabis–the monies obtained from illicit sales are staggering. When the courts impose harsh sentences on convicted drug dealers there are invariably some person or persons willing to fill the publics’ insatiable demand for marijuana. This is why I support the regulated sale of marijuana–not just in in B.C., but in Canada as a whole. Over time it is obvious that the police and judicial systems cannot extinguish the illicit production and sale of cannabis.”

Randie Long, Former Federal Prosecutor (Nanaimo):

“As a federal prosecutor who regularly dealt with marijuana offences, I can say with confidence that the criminal justice approach is an ineffective and ultimately harmful strategy for addressing marijuana use, possession, and trafficking in BC. Society is beginning to recognize that marijuana illegality rather than the drug itself is driving much of the crime and violence and it’s time the courts caught up.”

Walter McKay, Former Police Officer and Consultant, WM Consulting and Director of International Affairs and Founder, Asociación Mexicana de Reducción de Riesgos y Daños:

“I am 100% behind this report, its findings and its recommendations. The carnage that has been wrought upon Mexico, its people and its institutions, through Calderón’s war on drugs, cannot be solely blamed on prohibition. However, it is my firm belief that the policies of prohibition, especially of marijuana, directly contributed to the over 47,000 people who have been killed in drug-war related violence in this country since 2007.  As a former Vancouver Police officer who worked the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown East-side I was directly exposed to the multitude of victims who needlessly suffered for their addictions due to Canada´s prohibitionist stance with regards to marijuana.”

 

Academics

Neil Boyd, LLM; Professor & Associate Director, School of Criminology, SFU:

“The criminal prohibition of cannabis in Canada has been a dismal failure. In the past 30 years the price has decreased, and availability has increased. Changes in rates of use cannot be systematically related to law enforcement activities or to any legislative changes. In the absence of careful regulation, consumers continue to consume a product without adequate information about its risks, and our policies continue to reward dealers and growers, without any corresponding public benefits.”

Thomas Kerr, PhD; Director, Urban Health Research Initiative, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Associate Professor, Dept. of Medicine, UBC

Click the image to hear Dr. Kerr speak about why he supports Stop the Violence BC.

“Our research group has long been studying issues related to drug policy and, in particular, some of the social problems that come out of illicit drug use, such as violence at a broader level. We’re also very interested in the way in which the criminalization of drug use contributes to drug-related harm. And right now is a very important time to be looking at that issue as we’re seeing a massive growth in organized crimes and related violence here in British Columbia. In particular, many people are aware that the cannabis trade has grown exponentially, there’s a huge amount of concern about the threats to safety that that causes within our communities, and for good reasons. Right now we are trying to critically evaluate that situation, and to come up with some solutions. And because our group has long been interested in drug policy, this is a natural fit for us.”

Jean Shoveller, PhD; Professor & CIHR/PHAC Applied Public Health Chair, School of Population & Public Health, UBC and Senior Scholar, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research

“I am very supportive of the coalition’s call for a public discussion about cannabis regulation within public health framework. These discussions would represent a new way to find effective strategies to address both crime and public health concerns – and, moreover, offers positive momentum towards reducing violence in our communities.”

 

Medical and public health professionals

Terri Betts, BScPharm, ACPR; Clinical Coordinator, Pharmacy, Lions Gate Hospital:

“It is very clear that the current strategy of prohibition of cannabis is not having the desired effect. In fact, the consequences are detrimental to public health and safety. We need to remove the “glamour” of cannabis use for adolescents, and the profits for organized crime, by regulating it. Taxation revenue could be directed to substance abuse treatment programs, and resources currently used for law enforcement could be redirected to investigating and prosecuting more serious crimes.”

Timothy Temple, MBBS, CCFP, FRSA; Physician, Dept. of Family Practice, UBC:

“After 35 years in Family Practice in BC, caring for many addicted patients, & being a strong supporter of evidence based practice with a holistic/empathic approach to care; I fully support the call for a change in the regulation of cannabis.”

Caroline Ferris, MD, CCFP, FCFP; Physician, Creekside Withdrawal Management Centre and Clinical Instructor, Dept. of Family Practice, UBC and Clinical Faculty Team, Dept. of Family Practice Residency Program, UBC

“I support measures which help ensure a safe supply of cannabis for medical users, and helps to eliminate cannabis-related criminal behaviour at the supply end as well as violent acts such as grow-rips, beatings and other gang activity.”

 

Video: Stop the Violence BC – The link between cannabis prohibition and organized crime

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Video: Why do you support Stop the Violence BC?

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Backgrounder: Breaking the Silence

This backgrounder summarizes the key points raised in Breaking the Silence, the first report from the Stop the Violence BC Coalition.

This backgrounder briefly outlines the links between cannabis prohibition and the growth of organized crime and related violence in the province and defines the public health concept of “regulation”.

 

[button link=”http://stoptheviolencebc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/CC-Rep-1-Backgrounder-FINAL-Oct-13-1.pdf” color=”orange”]Download the Backgrounder[/button]

Join us for a panel discussion

Down to the wire: The failure of Cannabis Prohibition in BC

SFU Woodward’s Cinema |Thursday November, 10, 2011 | Doors at 630pm  Panel at 7 | Please register.

Live streaming available here

Stop the Violence BC presents Down to the Wire, a panel discussion on the failure of cannabis prohibition hosted by CBC Radio’s Kathryn Gretsinger.

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Panelists include:

Major Neill Franklin – Neill Franklin is a former Commander for the Bureau of Drug and Criminal enforcement and the Education and Training Division for Maryland State Police.  Through his work with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Neil has worked to raise awareness about the failures of prohibition and is motivated by the high number of civilian and police officer lives lost in the war on drugs.

 

 

Damon Barrett – Damon Barrett is a Senior Analyst with Harm Reduction International and leads their human rights program.  A member of the UK delegation to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs from 2008-2011, Damon has worked to raise the profile of drug policies at the UN Human Rights Council and through other UN mechanisms. Damon is also a co-founder of the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy and an Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal on Human Rights and Drug Policy.

 

 

Evan Wood – Dr. Evan Wood is Co-Director of the Addiction and Urban Health Research Initiative (UHRI) at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP). Dr. Wood is a co-author of Stop the Violence BC’s first report Breaking the Silence: Cannabis prohibition, organized crime and gang violence in BC.

 

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Presented by:

149 West Hastings Street |
Vancouver, BC V6B 1H7

 

 

 

 

Please donate $10 today.

Thank you for considering making a donation to Stop the Violence BC

If 1,000 British Columbians give just ten dollars our reports will come faster, reach more people, and inspire more action.

Your donation supports on-going report generation, communications, events and other educational efforts to stop the needless violence resulting from cannabis prohibition in British Columbia. To make your contribution, please click here.

Over six months in to our campaign, we need your help to keep this momentum going, please consider giving $10 or more today.

Click here to make your contribution today.

All the Stop the Violence coalition members – law enforcement, physician and academic members included – donate their time cost-free to advancing an informed discussion of the impacts of cannabis prohibition in BC and evidence-based alternatives.

Note: You will be taken to the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation website. All donations made to the Foundation via this webpage will passed on to the Stop the Violence Coalition.

Coalition of BC Law Enforcement, Health and Academic Experts Call for Marijuana Legalization and Regulation to Reduce Gang Violence

New Polls Shows 87% of British Columbians Link Gang Violence to Organized Crime’s Control of Marijuana Trade

October 27, 2011 [Vancouver, Canada] – In the wake of high-profile gang violence related to the illegal marijuana industry in BC, a new coalition of academic, legal and health experts has released the first of a series of reports and polling results aimed at pressuring politicians to legally regulate marijuana sales under a public health framework.

The Angus Reid poll says 87% of BC respondents link gang violence to organized crime’s efforts to control the province’s massive illegal cannabis trade while the report, called Breaking the Silence, clearly demonstrates that cannabis prohibition in BC has been ineffective and caused significant social harms and public safety issues.

“From a scientific and public health perspective we know that making marijuana illegal has not achieved its stated objectives of limiting marijuana supply or rates of use,” said Dr. Evan Wood, a coalition member and Director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. “Given that marijuana prohibition has created a massive financial windfall for violent organized crime groups in BC, we must discuss alternatives to today’s failed laws with a focus on how to decrease violence, remove the illicit industry’s profit motive and improve public health and safety.”

The new coalition, Stop the Violence BC, released the report in tandem with results from an Angus Reid poll that overwhelmingly demonstrates that lawmakers lag far behind public opinion on revamping marijuana laws in BC.

Key Angus Reid Poll Data:

  • A mere 12% of British Columbians support keeping current marijuana laws in place
  • 81% of British Columbians are concerned about increasing gang violence in BC
  • 87% of British Columbians attribute gang violence to drug trafficking groups fighting over profits from the illegal marijuana trade
  • 69% state that arresting marijuana producers and sellers is ineffective, and that BC would be better off taxing and regulating the use of marijuana
  • More than 75% reject the notion that possession of marijuana should lead to a criminal record
  • Only 39% of British Columbians support instituting mandatory minimum prison sentences for marijuana-trade related crime, including possession of six or more marijuana plants.

“These results reveal that British Columbians are clearly dissatisfied with the status quo and recognize the unintended harmful consequences of marijuana prohibition in terms of promoting organized crime and violence,” said Mario Canseco, Vice President, Angus Reid Public Opinion. “The majority of British Columbians are ready for new regulations related to marijuana use and possession, and reject the notion that tough-on-crime measures will be effective.”

Retired RCMP Chief Superintendent Supports Stop the Violence BC

Support for the Stop the Violence BC coalition has been widespread and includes leading experts and professionals from many fields. Vince Cain, retired RCMP Chief Superintendent and former Chief Coroner for British Columbia, has witnessed the devastating human consequences and social and economic costs attributable to marijuana prohibition.

“In BC, organized crime is reaping billions from the illegal marijuana industry and increasingly consolidating its hold through violence,” said Cain. “Stiffer sanctions will not reverse these trends, but legally regulating marijuana in BC would eliminate a primary source of revenue for these criminal groups, reduce gang violence, and generate tax revenue.”

Police Officer: “Prohibition Has Failed”

Police officers are at the front-lines of the futile efforts to control the illegal marijuana trade and the resulting gang violence.

“Marijuana prohibition may be well-intentioned, but my personal opinion is that it has failed in BC and around the world,” said David Bratzer, a police officer who resides in Victoria, BC. “Prohibition has created a huge and violent criminal enterprise that is becoming more dangerous with each passing day, and I strongly support controlled marijuana legalization as an effective way to fight crime and protect our communities.”

A Call for Public Discussion

Over the coming months, Stop the Violence BC will encourage the public, media, politicians, academics and law enforcement to begin an open dialogue about this pressing public safety issue. Public forums with academic and law enforcement experts will be held and further poll results and scientific research will be released. In addition, prominent British Columbians – including politicians – will be asked to support the call to effectively end the marijuana cash cow for organized crime, employ a public health approach for the legal regulation of marijuana, and reduce gang-related violence in BC communities.

“The time has come for all politicians – municipal, provincial and federal – to say whether they agree with public opinion, support reducing gang violence and changing these ineffective and harmful marijuana laws,” said Wood. “The violence is taking place in their communities, so all politicians owe it to their constituents to show real leadership and acknowledge the fact that marijuana prohibition is a key source of crime and gang violence in this province.”

With Vancouver under a police warning regarding the potential for increased gang violence, members of the public wanting to reduce violence and criminal activity can get involved in the coalition’s efforts by attending the public forums and making their voices heard. They can also write to media and their mayors, councilors, MLAs and MPs to let them know that they support the coalition and its efforts.

To join the conversation, please visit our Facebook page. Updates on the campaign are publicly available on our Twitter feed.

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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.

Click here for a full listing of coalition members and to learn more about the coalition.

About Angus Reid Public Opinion

Angus Reid Public Opinion is the Public Affairs practice of Vision Critical headed by Dr. Angus Reid: an industry visionary who has spent more than four decades asking questions to figure out what people feel, how they think and who they will vote for.

 

Media: to receive polling results and talk to a member of the Stop the Violence BC Coalition, please contact:

Crystal Reinitz
Edelman
604.623.3007 ext. 301
crystal.reinitz@edelman.com

[button link=”http://stoptheviolencebc.org/2011/10/26/poll-british-columbians-link-gang-violence-to-illegal-cannabis-market/” style=”download” color=”orange”]Click here to download poll results[/button]

Breaking the Silence: Cannabis prohibition, organized crime, and gang violence

This brief report outlines the links between cannabis prohibition in BC and the growth of organized crime and related violence in the province. The report also defines the public health concept “regulation” and seeks to set the stage for a much needed public conversation and action on the part of BC politicians.

[button link=”http://stoptheviolencebc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/STVBC-Breaking-the-Silence.pdf” style=”download” color=”orange”]Download the report[/button]

Poll: British Columbians link gang violence to illegal cannabis market

Recent polling data released by Stop the Violence BC overwhelmingly demonstrates that lawmakers lag far behind public opinion when it comes to revamping marijuana laws in BC.

To summarize:

  • A mere 12% of British Columbians support keeping current marijuana laws in place
  • 81% of British Columbians are concerned about increasing gang violence in BC
  • 87% of British Columbians attribute gang violence to drug trafficking groups fighting over profits from the illegal marijuana trade
  • 69% state that arresting marijuana producers and sellers is ineffective, and that BC would be better off taxing and regulating the use of marijuana
  • More than 75% reject the notion that possession of marijuana should lead to a criminal record
  • Only 39% of British Columbians support instituting mandatory minimum prison sentences for marijuana-trade related crime, including possession of six or more marijuana plants.

[quote style=”boxed”]“These results reveal that British Columbians are clearly dissatisfied with the status quo and recognize the unintended harmful consequences of marijuana prohibition in terms of promoting organized crime and violence,” said Mario Canseco, Vice President, Angus Reid Public Opinion. “The majority of British Columbians are ready for new regulations related to marijuana use and possession, and reject the notion that tough-on-crime measures will be effective.”[/quote]

[button link=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/CC-Rep-1-Poll-Summary-FINAL-Oct-13.pdf” style=”download” color=”orange” window=”yes”]Download the poll summary[/button]