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 

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

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