Stop The Violence Calls For Regulation Of Marijuana

Nov 22, 2011

A new British Columbia-based coali­tion is call­ing for the legal­iza­tion and reg­u­la­tion of mar­i­juana, claim­ing that ille­gal traf­fick­ing of the drug is fuelling gang vio­lence, despite the best efforts of law enforce­ment. The coali­tion – named Stop the Vio­lence – includes high-profile groups and insti­tu­tions such as the Uni­ver­sity of British Colum­bia, Cen­tre for Addic­tions Research BC, Prov­i­dence Health Care, and Law Enforce­ment Against Pro­hi­bi­tion, as well as for­mer BC Supreme Court jus­tice Ross Lan­der and chief coro­ner Vince Cain. The group claims the drug is more avail­able to school chil­dren than tobacco and alco­hol, and that gang wars within the indus­try causes dozens of deaths every year. Accord­ing to Royal Cana­dian Mounted Police ( RCMP ) sta­tis­tics, the per­cent­age of BC gang-related homi­cides has risen from 21 in 1997 to 34 in 2009.  Stop the Vio­lence, how­ever, said there were 43 such deaths in 2009.  Fur­ther­more, they pointed out 276 gang-related drive-by shoot­ings that year, which present a more imme­di­ate threat to pub­lic safety. Jodie Emery – wife of BC mar­i­juana pol­icy reform advo­cate Marc Emery, who is cur­rently serv­ing a five-year sen­tence in an Amer­i­can prison for the sale of cannabis seeds – is director-at-large of the BC Green Party, and has been cam­paign­ing for the legal­iza­tion of the drug for years. “The mes­sage is very impor­tant,” Emery said.  “We need to point out vio­lence is caused by the poli­cies sur­round­ing the drug and not the drug itself.  Keep­ing it ille­gal keeps it under the con­trol of gangs.” Don­ald Skogstad, a promi­nent crim­i­nal lawyer in BC, told The Daily that the war on drugs diverts resources and pre­vents law enforce­ment agen­cies from deal­ing with other more seri­ous issues. “Gangs in BC are highly devel­oped and con­trol what’s become a multi– bil­lion dol­lar indus­try,” he said.  “The sit­u­a­tion we’re in at this moment regard­ing mar­i­juana leg­is­la­tion is the worst pos­si­ble.  It’s pro­hi­bi­tion.” At the fed­eral level, an omnibus crime bill was rein­tro­duced in Sep­tem­ber after being voted down before last May’s national elec­tion.  The bill seeks to man­date provinces to crack down on ille­gal drug traf­fick­ing across the coun­try. The major­ity Con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ment has promised to pass the bill – called the “Safe Streets and Com­mu­ni­ties Act” – within 100 sit­ting days of the next Par­lia­ment ses­sion, which starts June 6. Min­is­ter of Jus­tice Rob Nichol­son said in a press release that the bill was intro­duced “on a promise to get tough on child sex­ual offend­ers, crack down on ille­gal drug traf­fick­ing, and improve the over­all effi­ciency of our judi­cial sys­tem.” The por­tion of the leg­is­la­tion ded­i­cated to drug con­sump­tion and traf­fick­ing, Bill C-10, extends the max­i­mum sen­tences for any marijuana-related crime from 7 to 14 years, and con­tains manda­tory min­i­mum prison sen­tences for grow­ing cannabis. The Con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ment has esti­mated that the imple­men­ta­tion of the bill would cost $78.5 mil­lion, a fig­ure con­tested by the oppo­si­tion.  Provinces have also crit­i­cized the Con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ment for not detail­ing how much provin­cial gov­ern­ments would have to pay, should the bill pass.  Both Que­bec Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jean-Marc Fournier and Ontario Pre­mier Dal­ton McGuinty have said they would be unwill­ing to foot the bill for the fed­eral ini­tia­tive. Skogstad said the bill would use resources from all provinces in a use­less effort to reduce crime. Emery explained that crack­ing down on mar­i­juana traf­fick­ing will do the oppo­site of what it claims to, say­ing it could cost tax­pay­ers bil­lions of dol­lars through con­se­quences like increased prison pop­u­la­tions, and serve to make the drug mar­ket more vio­lent than it already is. “The only par­ties who ben­e­fit from this are the police, the politi­cians and the gang­sters,” Emery said. Source: McGill Daily, The (CN QU Edu) Copy­right: 2011 The McGill Daily Con­tact: letters@​mcgilldaily.​com Web­site: http://​www​.mcgill​daily​.com/ Author: Pedro Marzano

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Stop The Vio­lence Calls For Reg­u­la­tion Of Marijuana

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