Thanks to your help, City of Victoria cannabis motion debated and passed

On Thursday March 15th, Victoria City Council Governance and Planning Committee debated and passed a motion on the regulation and taxation of cannabis. The text of the motion can be found here.

Thanks to your support, the motion passed.

You will be able to find minutes from the March 15th meeting and the agenda for the March 22nd meeting here, on the city of Victoria website.

 

Media Coverage
March 23, 2012, Murray Langdon Show, CFAX 1070
Gardner, S. March 22, 2012. Council Unanimously passes motion to support regulatory approach to cannabis control. CFAX1070.

Media Coverage: Stop the Violence BC in Kelowna

On March 1st, Stop the Violence BC held two public forums on Stop the Violence BC featuring coalition members David Bratzer, Chris Fibiger, David Kennedy and Dr. Evan Wood.

David Bratzer On CHBC Evening News

Dr. Evan Wood On Castanet News

 Print Media Coverage

Michaels, K. (12/03/01). Kelowna to hear legalization argument, Kelowna Capital News.
Open Line with Phill Johnson (12/03/01). AM1150.
Daybreak South. (12/03/01). CBC.
Pot law draws fire. (12/03/01). Daily Courier
Michaels, K. (12/03/01). Kelowna to hear pot legalization argument, Kelowna Capital News
War on drugs blamed for gang violence (12/03/01). CHBC Global Okanagan
Pot law draws fire. (12/03/01). Daily Courier.
Daybreak South. (12/03/01). CBC
Open Line with Phil Johnson. (12/03/01). AM1150.

Global Commission Members Call on Canadian Government to avoid mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana


To:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian Senators
From:
Louise Arbour, Richard Branson, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Ruth Dreifuss, and Thorvald Stoltenberg

Re: Reject mandatory minimum sentences under Bill C-10

Dear Prime Minister Harper and Canadian Senators:

We are writing to you on behalf of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which is dedicated to reducing harms caused by drugs to people and societies. Our Commission includes global leaders such as the past presidents of Colombia and Mexico; former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan; former US Secretary of State George Schultz; and business experts such as Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Paul Volcker.

Many Global Commission members have first-hand experience with the violent illegal markets that emerge in drug-producing regions, where corruption, organized crime and violence are inevitable consequences of cannabis prohibition that cannot be successfully addressed by strengthening anti-cannabis law enforcement. We hope that Canada—where both production and consumption are an issue—remains open to new and better ideas.

Building more prisons, tried for decades in the United States under its failed War on Drugs, only deepens the drug problem and does not reduce cannabis supply or rates of use. Instead, North American youth now report easier access to cannabis than to alcohol or tobacco. And yet, today, with the proposed implementation of mandatory prison sentences for minor cannabis-related offences under Bill C-10, Canada is at the threshold of continuing to repeat the same grave mistakes as other countries, moving further down a path that has proven immensely destructive and ineffective at meeting its objectives.

As was the case with alcohol prohibition, evidence shows that increasing the intensity of drug law enforcement through mandatory minimum sentencing and other legal sanctions will not reduce the crime and violence associated with the cannabis industry. Instead, these laws will serve only to further entrench control of the cannabis market in the hands of violent criminals and waste precious tax dollars.

This has been the experience internationally. In fact, among the things that are driving organized crime and violence in British Columbia and other Canadian provinces is, although on a lesser scale, just what is driving the violence in Mexico—demand for drugs in the United States. Tougher drug laws in Canada will not address this root cause. At this late date, we hope that Canada will elect to adopt an evidence-based approach to controlling cannabis, in the face of overwhelming evidence that the proposed path through Bill C-10 is destructive, expensive and ineffective.

Debate about ending cannabis prohibition often pits those in favour of persisting with the damaging and ineffective War on Drugs against those who downplay the risks and harms of cannabis use. Canadians should take a third, evidence-based approach, which is advocated by the Global Commission and local and national organizations such as the Stop the Violence BC coalition. The Global Commission fully endorses the Stop the Violence BC coalition and its call to reduce corruption, organized crime and gang violence by taxing and regulating cannabis use under a public health framework. Indeed, the call is entirely consistent with the recommendations of our first report. Taxation and regulation models should be evaluated, as they have great potential to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and safety of Canadians. Given the experience with tobacco consumption, this approach also has the potential to actually reduce rates of cannabis use while also generating significant tax revenue.

For decades, Canadians and their leaders have embraced positive societal change and the rights of all citizens, not just in Canada but around the world. Canada has a proud international tradition of innovative and realistic policies; tougher drug law enforcement tactics such as mandatory minimum sentencing for minor drug law offences will put a huge strain on Canadian taxpayers, will not have the intended effect of creating safer communities, and will instead further entrench the marijuana industry in the hands of organized crime groups.

The clear path forward to best control cannabis in Canada and other jurisdictions throughout the world is to move away from failed law enforcement strategies and to pursue a public health approach aimed also at undermining the root causes of organized crime. Canada has the opportunity to take a leadership role in implementing such policies. And it would be completely in keeping with Canada’s global reputation as a modern, tolerant and forward-thinking nation.

Sincerely,

Louise Arbour
GCDP Commissioner
Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
President of the International Crisis Group, Canada

Richard Branson
GCDP Commissioner
Entrepreneur
Advocate for Social Causes
Founder of the Virgin Group
Co-founder of The Elders, UK

Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Chair, GCDP
Former President of Brazil

Ruth Dreifuss
GCDP Commissioner
Former President of Switzerland and Minister of Home Affairs

Thorvald Stoltenberg
GCDP Commissioner
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Norway

cc: Canadian Premiers and Leaders of the Opposition

[button link=”http://stoptheviolencebc.org/2012/02/21/global-commission-endorsement-letter/” color=”orange”]Download the letter here[/button]

World leaders urge Canada to avoid mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana

World leaders urge Canada to avoid mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson; former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia and Switzerland; and former Federal Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour call Bill C-10 a ‘grave mistake’

former Federal Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour call Bill C-10 a ‘grave mistake’

[Vancouver, BC – February 29, 2012]¬¬—World business, legal and political leaders with the influential Global Commission on Drug Policy are calling on Canada to reject the statute for mandatory minimum sentences for minor marijuana offenses proposed in Bill C-10, which is now before the Canadian Senate.

In addition, they are recommending Canadians evaluate possibilities around taxing and regulating marijuana as an alternative strategy to undermine organized crime and improve community health and safety.

In an open letter addressed to Canadian Senators, leaders such as Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso assert that the illegality of marijuana, coupled with huge demand for the drug in the U.S., has led to increased organized crime and violence in Canada and Mexico.

Commission members strongly argue that policies that adhere to the failed war on drugs – such as the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions included in the federal government’s Bill C-10 – will not address the issues of gang violence and organized crime. Instead, they favour a public health approach to cannabis policy, including considering a regime of regulation and taxation.

“Tougher drug law enforcement tactics such as mandatory minimum sentencing for minor drug law offences will put a huge strain on Canadian taxpayers,” the letter states. “[They] will not have the intended effect of creating safer communities, and will instead further entrench the marijuana industry in the hands of organized crime groups.”

“With the proposed implementation of mandatory prison sentences for minor cannabis-related offences under Bill C-10, Canada is at the threshold of continuing to repeat the same grave mistakes as other countries.”

The Commission, which includes leaders from countries such as Mexico and Colombia that are hard hit by the war on drugs, called on Canadian lawmakers to adopt an evidence-based approach to controlling cannabis. Commission members referred to the overwhelming evidence that stricter law enforcement policies for minor drug law offenses are destructive, expensive, and ineffective.

“Adopting the mandatory sentencing for minor cannabis offenses would send Canada down a tragic path, likely costing your taxpayers billions and doing nothing to tackle drug violence or drug dependency. Canada should explore policies that treat drugs as a health issue, not a criminal issue, and help lead the way to end the failed war on drugs,” said Mr. Branson.

The Commission further argues that Canada’s national law enforcement policies will have an international impact, with the unintended consequences of a ‘tough on crime’ approach reaching other countries. U.S. law enforcement, for instance, has already described how organized crime groups from British Columbia are active in Washington State.

“The U.S. war on drugs has only deepened the drug problem, with drug prohibition causing violence in countries across the Americas, including Canada,” said Mr. Cardoso, who is also Commission Chair. “Fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed. We should start by treating cannabis use as a health issue and undermine organized crime by legally regulating the drug’s use rather than promoting prohibition policies which actually fuel gang violence.”

Stricter sentencing fails to reduce crime

The Commission argues that increasing anti-cannabis law enforcement policies like those proposed in Bill C-10 fails to address root causes of organized crime and gang violence, which are natural consequences of drug prohibition. In Canada, such crime and violence are primarily driven by marijuana prohibition.

“The war on drugs, as it has been fought for decades, cannot be won,” said Louise Arbour, former Canadian Supreme Court Justice and current head of the International Crisis Group, which is committed to preventing and resolving conflict. “In countries of production, transit and consumption, it has done much more harm than good. We must implement policies that place community health and safety at the forefront of our efforts, and consider drug use a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue.”

In their letter, the Commission endorses 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. The Commission joins a growing list of recent endorsements including four former mayors of Vancouver, the Health Officers Council of B.C., four former B.C. attorneys general, and a group of high-profile current and former law enforcement officials.

“The Global Commission supports Stop the Violence BC’s suggested approach of regulating marijuana under a public health framework,” said Ilona Szabo, spokesperson for the Secretariat of the Global Commission on Drug Policy. “Mandatory minimum sentences and further reinforcement of prohibition are not rational or prudent solutions.”

For a copy of the Global Commission on Drug Policy letter, please click here.
To join the STVBC conversation, please visit the STVBC Facebook page .
Updates on the campaign are publicly available on Twitter.
To read the coalition’s two major reports, discover more about the coalition and upcoming events, and learn how to support the effort, please visit Stop the Violence BC’s website
For a short video address from President Cardoso on the war on drugs, please click here

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About The Global Commission on Drug Policy

The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to ever call for such far-reaching changes on failed drug prohibition policies across the world. Its main recommendations can be summarized as follows:

  • End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.
  • Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs (especially cannabis) to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.
  • Ensure that a variety of treatment modalities are available – including not just methadone and buprenorphine treatment but also the heroin-assisted treatment programs that have proven successful in many European countries and Canada.
  • Apply human rights and harm reduction principles and policies both to people who use drugs as well as those involved in the lower ends of illegal drug markets such as farmers, couriers and petty sellers.
  • To learn more about the Commission and read its first report, visit: www.globalcommissionondrugs.org

COMMISSIONERS
Asma Jahangir, human rights activist, former UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Extrajudicial and Summary Executions, Pakistan
Carlos Fuentes, writer and public intellectual, Mexico
César Gaviria, former President of Colombia
Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil (chair)
George Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece
George P. Shultz, former Secretary of State, United States (honorary chair)
Javier Solana, former European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Spain
John Whitehead, banker and civil servant, chair of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, United States
Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ghana
Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, President of the International Crisis Group, Canada
Maria Cattaui, Petroplus Holdings Board member, former Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce, Switzerland
Mario Vargas Llosa, writer and public intellectual, Peru
Marion Caspers-Merk, former State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Health
Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, France
Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve and of the Economic Recovery Board
Richard Branson, entrepreneur, advocate for social causes, founder of the Virgin Group, co-founder of The Elders, United Kingdom
Ruth Dreifuss, former President of Switzerland and Minister of Home Affairs
Thorvald Stoltenberg, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Norway

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 visit www.stoptheviolencebc.org

For quotes from coalition members, photos and links to downloadable videos of coalition members speaking about the report, please visit www.stoptheviolencebc.org/coalition-members/

Media: To interview a spokesperson from the Secretariat of the Global Commission on Drug Policy or Dr. Evan Wood, founder, Stop the Violence BC Coalition, please contact:

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

[button link=”http://stoptheviolencebc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Stop-the-Violence-BC-Global-Commission-on-Drug-Policy-letter-Bill-C-10-Letter.pdf” color=”orange”]Download a copy of the letter here[/button]

Global Commission Members Call on Canadian Government to avoid mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana


To: Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian Senators
From: Louise Arbour, Richard Branson, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Ruth Dreifuss, and Thorvald Stoltenberg,
Re: Reject mandatory minimum sentences under Bill C-10

Dear Prime Minister Harper and Canadian Senators:

We are writing to you on behalf of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which is dedicated to reducing harms caused by drugs to people and societies. Our Commission includes global leaders such as the past presidents of Colombia and Mexico; former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan; former US Secretary of State George Schultz; and business experts such as Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Paul Volcker.

Many Global Commission members have first-hand experience with the violent illegal markets that emerge in drug-producing regions, where corruption, organized crime and violence are inevitable consequences of cannabis prohibition that cannot be successfully addressed by strengthening anti-cannabis law enforcement. We hope that Canada—where both production and consumption are an issue—remains open to new and better ideas.

Building more prisons, tried for decades in the United States under its failed War on Drugs, only deepens the drug problem and does not reduce cannabis supply or rates of use. Instead, North American youth now report easier access to cannabis than to alcohol or tobacco. And yet, today, with the proposed implementation of mandatory prison sentences for minor cannabis-related offences under Bill C-10, Canada is at the threshold of continuing to repeat the same grave mistakes as other countries, moving further down a path that has proven immensely destructive and ineffective at meeting its objectives.

As was the case with alcohol prohibition, evidence shows that increasing the intensity of drug law enforcement through mandatory minimum sentencing and other legal sanctions will not reduce the crime and violence associated with the cannabis industry. Instead, these laws will serve only to further entrench control of the cannabis market in the hands of violent criminals and waste precious tax dollars.

This has been the experience internationally. In fact, among the things that are driving organized crime and violence in British Columbia and other Canadian provinces is, although on a lesser scale, just what is driving the violence in Mexico—demand for drugs in the United States. Tougher drug laws in Canada will not address this root cause. At this late date, we hope that Canada will elect to adopt an evidence-based approach to controlling cannabis, in the face of overwhelming evidence that the proposed path through Bill C-10 is destructive, expensive and ineffective.

Debate about ending cannabis prohibition often pits those in favour of persisting with the damaging and ineffective War on Drugs against those who downplay the risks and harms of cannabis use. Canadians should take a third, evidence-based approach, which is advocated by the Global Commission and local and national organizations such as the Stop the Violence BC coalition. The Global Commission fully endorses the Stop the Violence BC coalition and its call to reduce corruption, organized crime and gang violence by taxing and regulating cannabis use under a public health framework. Indeed, the call is entirely consistent with the recommendations of our first report. Taxation and regulation models should be evaluated, as they have great potential to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and safety of Canadians. Given the experience with tobacco consumption, this approach also has the potential to actually reduce rates of cannabis use while also generating significant tax revenue.

For decades, Canadians and their leaders have embraced positive societal change and the rights of all citizens, not just in Canada but around the world. Canada has a proud international tradition of innovative and realistic policies; tougher drug law enforcement tactics such as mandatory minimum sentencing for minor drug law offences will put a huge strain on Canadian taxpayers, will not have the intended effect of creating safer communities, and will instead further entrench the marijuana industry in the hands of organized crime groups.

The clear path forward to best control cannabis in Canada and other jurisdictions throughout the world is to move away from failed law enforcement strategies and to pursue a public health approach aimed also at undermining the root causes of organized crime. Canada has the opportunity to take a leadership role in implementing such policies. And it would be completely in keeping with Canada’s global reputation as a modern, tolerant and forward-thinking nation.

Sincerely,

Louise Arbour
GCDP Commissioner
Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
President of the International Crisis Group, Canada

Richard Branson
GCDP Commissioner
Entrepreneur
Advocate for Social Causes
Founder of the Virgin Group
Co-founder of The Elders, UK

Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Chair, GCDP
Former President of Brazil

Ruth Dreifuss
GCDP Commissioner
Former President of Switzerland and Minister of Home Affairs

Thorvald Stoltenberg
GCDP Commissioner
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Norway

cc: Canadian Premiers and Leaders of the Opposition

Media Coverage: Attorneys General Endorsement

For more on the November 2011 announcement of support from four former BC Attorneys General, please see the links below.

Print and Online

Matas, R. (12/02/16). Why Christy Clark’s position on pot is political, The Globe and Mail.
McMartin, P. (12/02/16). Opinion: when four were in office, stand on marijuana was different, The Vancouver Sun.  
Mason, G. (12/02/16). Legalize weed, yes, but the demon’s in the details, Globe and Mail. 
Peebles, F. (12/02/15). Top cops avoid sides in pot debate, The Prince George Citizen 
Four ex-attorneys general calling BC politicians for pot regulation”. (12/02/15). Sudbury Star.
Four ex-attorneys general calling BC politicians for pot regulation”. (12/02/15). Calgary Sun
Four ex-attorneys general calling BC politicians for pot regulation”. (12/02/15). 24 Hours Ottawa
Four ex-attorneys general calling BC politicians for pot regulation”. (12/02/15). 24 Hours.
Four former BC attorneys general call for end to marijuana prohibition. (12/02/15). Daily Courier (Vernon).
Four former BC attorneys general call for end to marijuana prohibition. (12/02/15). Hamilton Spectator
Four former BC attorneys general call for end to marijuana prohibition. (12/02/15). Penticton Herald.
Four former BC attorneys general call for end to marijuana prohibition (12/02/15). Toronto Star.
Four former B.C. attorneys general call for end to marijuana prohibition (12/02/15). Winnipeg Free Press.
Pot-ential change. (12/02/15). North Shore News. 
Thomson, S. (12/02/14). Former B.C. attorneys general condemn marijuana prohibition Georgia Straight
Stueck, W. (12/02/14). Former B.C. Attorneys General call for legalization of pot, Globe and Mail.
Shaw, R. (12/02/14). Four ex-attorneys general urge legalization of pot, Times Colonist  
Raptis, M. (12/02/14). Marijuana decriminalization supported by former B.C. attorneys-general, The Province. 
Nagel, J. (12/02/14). Former BC AGs join push to legalize marijuana Surrey Leader. 
Mulgrew, I. (12/02/14). Former BC attorneys general call for legalization of marijuana Vancouver Sun
Mui, M. (12/02/14). Four ex-attorneys general calling BC politicians for pot regulation, 24 Hr.
Kieltyka, M. (12/02/14). Attorneys general light up pot debate. Metro
Hutchinson, B. (12/02/14). Campaign to legalize pot gets four new out-of-office adherents, National Post.
FULLER-EVANS, J. (12/02/14). Former BC attorneys general add voices to Stop the Violence BC campaign, Burnaby Now
Aynsley, M. (12/02/14). Four former B.C. attorneys general support legalizing marijuana, OpenFile 
Four former BC attorneys general call for end to marijuana prohibition. (12/02/14). The Star.
Former BC Attorneys General: Pot prohibition only fuels gang violence. (12/02/14). Huffington Post 
Pot laws a boon to gangs – ex BC AGs. (12/02/14). Seattle PI.
F4 – ex-British Columbia attorneys general: legalize marijuana. (12/02/14). Grand Forks Herald.
Smith, M. (12/02/16). It’s time we talked about legalizing pot, The Province.

Radio

(12/02/15). Evolution 107.9.
(12/02/15). AM 1150.
(12/02/15). CFAX.
Bill Good. (12/02/15). CKNW.
Leslie, S. (12/02/14). Premier leaving marijuana debate to federal government, CKNW  
Former attorneys general want pot legalized. (12/02/14). News1130.

Television

Marijuana Debate. (12/02/15). Global BC Morning News. 
CTV Morning News. (12/02/14). CTV.
More support for pot legalization. (12/02/14). Global TV evening news.
4 former attorneys general call for end to pot ban (12/02/14). CTVNews.
Former B.C. attorneys general call to legalize pot. (12/02/14). CBC News 

Backgrounder: Stop the Violence BC

This backgrounder provides a summary and overview of the Stop the Violence BC campaign.

Included are summaries of Breaking the Silence and How Not to Protect Community Health and Safety.

The report also includes quotes from Stop the Violence BC coalition members and supporters.

[button link=”http://stoptheviolencebc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Backgrounder-Rep-4_v4a_10.17.12.pdf”]Download the Backgrounder[/button]

Former Attorneys General Call on BC Leaders to End Cannabis Prohibition

Former Attorneys General Call on BC Leaders to End Cannabis Prohibition

Colin Gabelmann, Ujjal Dosanjh, Graeme Bowbrick and Geoff Plant Say Legalized, Regulated System Will Reduce Gang Activity, Ease Burden on Court System

[Vancouver, BC] – Four former British Columbian attorneys general are calling on Premier Christy Clark and NDP opposition leader Adrian Dix to endorse legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana to help stop gang activity associated with the illegal marijuana trade, raise tax revenue and ease strain on the province’s overburdened court system.

The letter to the political leaders – signed by Colin Gabelmann, Ujjal Dosanjh, Graeme Bowbrick, and Geoff Plant – was released in the aftermath of escalating gang violence in the Lower Mainland that resulted in multiple public shootings in Vancouver and Surrey in recent weeks.

“The case demonstrating the failure and harms of marijuana prohibition is airtight,” write the attorneys general to BC’s political leaders. “Massive profits for organized crime, widespread gang violence, easy access to illegal cannabis for our youth, reduced community safety and significant—and escalating—costs to taxpayers.”

The AGs’ letter urges provincial politicians to lead the change in marijuana drug policy and encourage the federal government to abandon mandatory minimum sentences for minor and non-violent marijuana-related offences. The former AGs – who were responsible for BC’s criminal justice system and addressing gang crime and violence – want BC and Canada to pursue a regulation and taxation strategy to better protect community health and safety while at the same time undermining gang profits.

“It’s time for our political leaders to accept and act on the overwhelming evidence linking marijuana prohibition to organized crime and gang violence,” said Geoff Plant, who served as attorney general from 2001 to 2005. “Punitive laws such as mandatory minimum sentences are clearly not the solution. Instead, taxation and regulation under a public health framework is the best way forward.”

Former AGs join growing list calling for politicians to end cannabis prohibition

In their letter, the former attorneys general endorsed Stop the Violence BC (STVBC), a coalition of academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts, and its campaign to overturn marijuana prohibition and reduce the harms associated with the illegal marijuana trade, including gang violence.

The former AGs, who represent more than a dozen years of experience as attorney general, join four former Vancouver mayors and the Health Officers Council of BC in their endorsement of STVBC’s call to legally regulate the sale of marijuana under a public health framework. Citing the mounting evidence reinforcing the harms and futility of cannabis prohibition and overwhelming support from the public, the former AGs called overturning marijuana prohibition a “major opportunity for leadership from the provincial government.”

A recent Angus Reid poll commissioned by STVBC found that 77% of British Columbians disagreed that marijuana possession should be a criminal offence and that 78% are dissatisfied with the way politicians at the provincial level are responding to the problems stemming from the illegal marijuana industry in B.C.

“British Columbians have lost faith in the ability of their elected representatives to enact cannabis laws that are in the public’s best interest,” said Ujjal Dosanjh, BC’s attorney general from 1995 to 2000 and premier from 2000 to 2001. “Our politicians must take a leadership role in the development of new policies that will end gang violence and create safer communities.”

To provincial and federal politicians who do not support taxation and regulation of marijuana, the former AGs asked that they outline their plan to:

  • Reduce gang violence related to the illegal marijuana trade
  • Ensure the judicial system works effectively in the face of escalating convictions
  • Pay for increased prison and court system costs while the BC government runs deficits
  • Prevent criminal enterprises from targeting BC’s youth for cannabis sales

“Laws that more aggressively enforce prohibition are obviously not the solution,” said Graeme Bowbrick, attorney general from 2000 to 2001. “It’s time for our politicians to listen to their constituents and reconsider our failed approach to cannabis policy.”

“Alcohol prohibition did not work in the 1920s and 1930s and marijuana prohibition does not work today,” said Colin Gabelmann, attorney general from 1991 to 1995. “It’s past time we overturned prohibition and addressed the related problems of gang violence, clogged court systems and the constant drain on the public purse.”

Neil Boyd, Professor, School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University said that the criminal justice system risks failing to deal with serious crimes because of the overburdened criminal justice system and questioned the wisdom of pursuing nonviolent marijuana users and cultivators.

“Politicians should be looking at every responsible means to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system and undermine organized crime. Marijuana laws are not only ineffective, but are also a key driver of gang violence in communities throughout B.C.”, said Boyd. ” I hope that Premier Christy Clark’s review of efficiencies in the B.C. justice system will acknowledge that marijuana prohibition creates an endlessly counter-productive stream of charges against peaceful and otherwise law-abiding citizens, and wastes both limited and costly criminal justice resources.”

  • For a copy of the attorneys general letter, please visit http://stoptheviolencebc.org/2012/02/07/former-attorneys-general-endorse-stop-the-violence-bc/
  • To join the STVBC conversation, please visit the STVBC Facebook page (www.facebook.com/StoptheViolenceBC).
  • Updates on the campaign are publicly available on Twitter (www.twitter.com/stvbc).
  • To read the coalition’s first two reports, discover more about the coalition and upcoming events, and learn how to support the effort, please visit www.stoptheviolencebc.org.

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[button link=”http://stoptheviolencebc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/STVBC-Attorneys-General-Endorsement-Letter.pdf” color=”orange”]Download a copy of the letter here[/button]

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 visit www.stoptheviolencebc.org

For quotes from coalition members, photos and links to downloadable videos of coalition members speaking about the report, please visit www.stoptheviolencebc.org/coalition-members/

Media: to interview the attorneys general or Dr. Evan Wood, founder, Stop the Violence BC Coalition, please contact:
Mahafrine Petigara
Edelman
604 623 3007 ext. 297
mahafrine.petigara@edelman.com

Former Attorneys General Endorse Stop the Violence BC

From: Colin Gabelmann, Ujjal Dosanjh, Graeme Bowbrick Q. C., Geoff Plant Q.C.
To: Hon. Christy Clark, Mr, Adrian Dix
Re: Cannabis taxation and regulation as a strategy to combat organized crime

February 15, 2012

Dear Ms. Clark and Mr. Dix:

Re: Cannabis taxation and regulation as a strategy to combat organized crime

As former BC Attorneys General, we are fully aware that British Columbia lost its war against the marijuana industry many years ago. The case demonstrating the failure and harms of marijuana prohibition is airtight. The evidence? Massive profits for organized crime, widespread gang violence, easy access to illegal cannabis for our youth, reduced community safety, and significant—and escalating—costs to taxpayers.

As Attorneys General, we were the province’s chief prosecutors and were responsible for overseeing the justice system. In this role, we became well aware of the burden imposed on the province’s justice system and court processes by enforcement of marijuana prohibition. We are therefore dismayed that the BC government supports the federal government’s move to impose mandatory minimum sentences for minor cannabis offences. These misguided prosecutions will further strain an already clogged system, without reducing cannabis prohibition-related violence or rates of cannabis use.

The most obvious parallel to today’s marijuana prohibition is the bloodshed and gang warfare that emerged in the United States in the 1920s during alcohol prohibition, and then disappeared when prohibition was repealed in 1933. It is time BC politicians listened to the vast majority of BC voters who support replacing cannabis prohibition in favour of a strictly regulated legal market for adult marijuana use.

BC’s Health Officers Council and the Fraser Institute both support a tax and regulate regime, and a growing group of prominent British Columbians have joined to advocate for the taxation and regulation of marijuana through the Stop the Violence BC coalition. This coalition includes leading minds in public health, law enforcement and law, and we now include our names among their ranks.

While it is easier to take a leadership position on controversial issues once one is out of public office, the fact is that the public is way ahead of politicians on this issue. For instance, a recent Angus Reid poll demonstrated that 77% of British Columbians disagreed that marijuana possession should be a criminal offence and a similar majority were of the opinion that marijuana should be taxed and regulated. Perhaps not surprisingly, this same poll showed that 78% of British Columbians are dissatisfied with the way politicians at the provincial level are responding to the problems stemming from the illegal marijuana industry in BC. It is our opinion that the only solution to this problem is to move away from an unregulated and increasingly violent illegal market, which is largely controlled by organized crime and whose only motive is profit, and towards a strictly regulated legal market whose motive is public health and safety.

We are cognizant of the fact that marijuana laws are federal, but there is still major opportunity for leadership from the provincial government on this matter. We encourage you to act and lead change on what is so obviously an untenable situation. Based on the evidence before us, we ask that you 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 to better protect community health and safety while at the same time undermining gang profits.

We are also copying this letter to federal politicians in BC. We urge them to consider the evidence linking marijuana prohibition to organized crime and gang violence and to accept, as we and other experts do, that taxation and regulation under a public health framework is the only way forward. Cannabis prohibition is the cause of much of the gang violence in this province, and laws that more aggressively enforce prohibition are obviously not the solution.

Laws that have proven ineffective and which cause more harm than good should be repealed. Our current cannabis prohibition laws foster distrust and disrespect for government, police and the legal system. Thanks to the police intelligence efforts of organizations such as the RCMP, it is now commonly accepted knowledge that marijuana prohibition drives organized crime and related violence in BC. Given that, there is an urgency to consider alternatives to prohibition to help improve public health and safety, and prevent more innocent people from being caught in gang crossfire.

The evidence is incontrovertible that cannabis prohibition has been a failure. If you do not support taxation and regulation of marijuana as a strategy to better protect community health and safety, what is your plan to reduce gang violence related to the illegal marijuana trade, ensure the judicial system works efficiently and effectively in the face of escalating convictions, pay for increased prison costs while the BC government runs deficits, and prevent criminal enterprises from targeting BC’s youth for cannabis sales?

All British Columbians are interested in your response to these important questions. With a critical mass of citizens and public health and legal experts now calling for change, the time to use taxation and regulation as a strategy to undermine organized crime is now.

Signed,

Colin Gabelmann Attorney General of BC (1991–1995)
Ujjal Dosanjh P.C. Q.C. 33rd Premier of BC and Attorney General (1995 – 2000)
Graeme Bowbrick Q. C. Attorney General of BC (2000-2001)
Geoff Plant Q.C. Attorney General of BC (2001-2005)

cc: MPs, MLAs and city councils in British Columbia

[button link=”http://stoptheviolencebc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/STVBC-Attorneys-General-Endorsement-Letter.pdf” color=”orange”]Click Here to Download Letter[/button]

Health Officers Council Endorses Stop the Violence BC

On December 22, 2011, the Health Officers Council of British Columbia endorsed Stop the Violence BC. Below is the text of their endorsement.

Dear Dr. Wood:

As previously communicated to you, this letter is to confirm that the Health Officers Council of British Columbia (HOC) supports the Stop the Violence initiative and is willing to be publicly identified as an endorser of the work of the coalition.

The work of Stop the Violence BC is important in bringing attention to the harms consequent to the prohibition of cannabis, and proposing solutions. This work is consistent with the work of HOC and we welcome that additional attention that Stop the Violence BC is bringing to these issues.

In particular HOC recognizes the contribution that Stop the Violence BC is making to advancing public dialogue on this issue. We appreciated being able to support that work by providing spokespeople as part of the recent release of the paper How Not to Protect Community Safety.

All the best in your work and please do not hesitate to contact us on your future initiatives.

Sincerely,

Paul Hasselback, MD MSc FRCPC
Chair, Health Officers Council