New study challenges argument that BC’s cannabis market cannot be taxed

Downloads: Polling Data, News Release

Download the report from the International Journal of Drug Policy here.

British Columbia’s annual domestic cannabis market could be worth more than $500-million, according to a new study by a coalition of researchers from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.

The study, published this month in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Drug Policy, is the first to estimate the size of B.C.’s domestically consumed cannabis market using provincial surveillance data. Researchers found that the estimated retail expenditure on cannabis by British Columbians was approximately $443-million to $564-million annually. The study concludes that regulating the provincial cannabis market could provide government with approximately $2.5 billion in tax and licensing revenues over the next 5 years.

Provincial policing agencies estimate that 85% of the cannabis market in B.C. is currently controlled by organized crime groups. Data on electrical power usage and from police raids suggest that the number of cannabis grow operations in the province nearly doubled between 2003 and 2010, further demonstrating the increasing involvement of organized crime groups in the domestic production and distribution of cannabis. This increase in gang activity has also corresponded with rising gang violence in the province, as the proportion of all homicides in B.C. attributable to gangs rose over 60%, from 21% in 1997 to 34% in 2009.

To download a copy of the study, please visit the International Journal of Drug Policy website here.

The Year in Review: The time for leadership is now

DOWNLOADS: ReportPolling DataNews Release

Building momentum

A remarkable and growing number of British Columbians are joining the call for the taxation and strict regulation of cannabis for adult use to better protect community health and safety while also reducing related organized crime activity and other community harms, such as the proliferation of illegal grow operations.

In October 2011, the Stop the Violence BC coalition – comprising researchers from B.C.’s four leading universities and some of the province’s foremost experts in law enforcement, medicine, public health, and the law – released its first report, “Breaking the Silence.” The report launched a public discussion regarding the failure of cannabis prohibition to suppress B.C.’s massive cannabis market and the role that existing cannabis policies play in threatening community health and safety in B.C. Since then, Stop the Violence BC has been advocating for a strictly regulated cannabis market for adult use under a public health model as a strategy to wage economic war on organized crime and to better control the province’s high rates of cannabis use.

It has been one year since Stop the Violence BC’s launch, but despite the groundswell of support for the taxation and regulation of cannabis, B.C.’s provincial leaders have largely refused to take action.

Today, we call on our provincial leaders to follow the example of the Union of B.C. Municipalities and tell British Columbians that they support researching a new approach to cannabis control – one that includes an impact assessment of the strict regulation and taxation of adult cannabis use under a public health framework.

How Not to Protect Community Health and Safety

This second report focuses on the impact of drug law enforcement on cannabis availability and the expansion of organized crime in BC. The report recognizes that cannabis prohibition laws are ineffective when it comes to decreasing rates of availability and price, and suggests ways to better protect community health and safety.

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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.

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