Corrigan Joins Pot Movement

May 3, 2012

Burn­aby Mayor Derek Cor­ri­gan put his name on the dot­ted line Thurs­day, call­ing for mar­i­juana to be taxed and reg­u­lated, along with seven other B.C.  may­ors. The open let­ter to Pre­mier Christy Clark; Adrian Dix, leader of the B.C.  New Democ­rats; and John Cum­mins, leader of the B.C.  Con­ser­v­a­tive Party, comes on the heels of a sim­i­lar let­ter from four for­mer Van­cou­ver may­ors last Decem­ber and one from four for­mer B.C.  attor­neys gen­eral in Feb­ru­ary. Cor­ri­gan told the NOW in Decem­ber that while he per­son­ally sup­ported an end to pot pro­hi­bi­tion, he would not make a pub­lic state­ment in his offi­cial capac­ity as a sit­ting mayor. When asked why he changed his posi­tion on that, Cor­ri­gan said the health and safety con­cerns were a fac­tor. “I thought the fact that we had seen a coali­tion of ex-mayors, and ex-attorneys gen­eral and health pro­fes­sion­als tak­ing a stand on this issue really meant we had to take it to the next step, which is elected offi­cials tak­ing a posi­tion,” he said in a phone inter­view Thurs­day. Pro­hi­bi­tion has not stopped the pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion of mar­i­juana, Cor­ri­gan said, but it has lined the pock­ets of crim­i­nals, much like alco­hol pro­hi­bi­tion before it. “We know alco­hol pro­hi­bi­tion didn’t work.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t prob­lems with alco­hol because there are – it still is a seri­ous prob­lem in our soci­ety, but pro­hi­bi­tion sim­ply turned the dis­tri­b­u­tion of alco­hol over to a crim­i­nal ele­ment,” he said. “We saw the rise of Al Capone-like fig­ures mak­ing their money off of pro­hi­bi­tion, and the same thing is hap­pen­ing with mar­i­juana,” Cor­ri­gan added.  “Peo­ple are mak­ing for­tunes off of the dis­tri­b­u­tion of mar­i­juana ille­gally and in fact, we’re not cur­ing the prob­lem at all, we’re just push­ing it under­ground.  I think it’s much bet­ter to take the atti­tude as we do with alco­hol and cig­a­rettes that while it is a vice, it’s some­thing that should be done in an upfront man­ner, the gov­ern­ment should reg­u­late and tax it, and there should be con­trols placed on it.” He dis­puted the idea that legal­iz­ing mar­i­juana in Canada wouldn’t be worth­while so long as it’s still ille­gal in the United States. The effect on young Canadian’s lives is a fac­tor as well, he said. “I think that the fact that we con­tinue to give young peo­ple crim­i­nal records for this offense and con­tinue to have peo­ple who live with the stigma of a crim­i­nal record for the use of mar­i­juana is a seri­ous prob­lem,” Cor­ri­gan said, “one that has indi­vid­ual effects that are way in excess of the act.” While he doesn’t see things chang­ing tomor­row, he hopes that provin­cial gov­ern­ments will begin to sup­port a change to the cur­rent laws, he said. “I think it is part of a build­ing process,” Cor­ri­gan said.  “Polls and gen­eral pub­lic opin­ion indi­cate that the pub­lic wants to find a way to resolve the issue.  They want to find a way to reg­u­late rather than pro­hibit, and they want to find a way that they can dis­cour­age the use of mar­i­juana among young peo­ple, and end the lock that crime has on the pro­duc­tion of mar­i­juana and dis­tri­b­u­tion of mar­i­juana.” He hopes this is a move­ment that spreads across the rest of Canada, and that the issue plays a part in the next fed­eral elec­tion, he added. The open let­ter – signed by Mayor Cor­ri­gan as well as the may­ors of Van­cou­ver, the City of North Van­cou­ver, the Dis­trict of Lake Coun­try, Arm­strong, Ver­non, Enderby, and Metchosin – was put for­ward by the Stop the Vio­lence B.C.  coali­tion. The crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem is over­bur­dened and needs to focus its resources on seri­ous crime, accord­ing to Neil Boyd, a pro­fes­sor with Simon Fraser University’s school of crim­i­nol­ogy. Boyd joined the Stop the Vio­lence B.C.  coali­tion after being approached by Dr.  Evan Wood, who started the coali­tion. Boyd spoke to the NOW in Feb­ru­ary, say­ing he has advo­cated for mar­i­juana law reform for many years. “Unlike the other ille­gal drugs, which are used by less than one per cent of the pop­u­la­tion, mar­i­juana is used by more than 10 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion,” he said.  “Given that it isn’t nearly as dan­ger­ous a drug, for most peo­ple in most cir­cum­stances, from a pub­lic health per­spec­tive, as alco­hol or tobacco.” The focus on the issue by for­mer and cur­rent pub­lic fig­ures fol­lowed a num­ber of pub­lic shoot­ings in Van­cou­ver and Sur­rey dur­ing the win­ter, which police have indi­cated are likely gang-related. The most high pro­file inci­dent was the shoot­ing death of Sandip Duhre at the Wall Cen­tre Hotel in Van­cou­ver on Jan.  17. An Angus Reid poll, com­mis­sioned by the coali­tion this win­ter, that found that 77 per cent of British Columbians did not agree that mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion should be a crim­i­nal offence and that 78 per cent said they were dis­sat­is­fied with the way politi­cians at the provin­cial level responded to prob­lems stem­ming from the ille­gal mar­i­juana indus­try. Julie Di Mam­bro, press sec­re­tary for fed­eral jus­tice min­is­ter Rob Nichol­son, did not address the issue of legal­iza­tion in her state­ment to the NOW in Feb­ru­ary but made it clear things are not going to change any time soon. “Our gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to ensur­ing crim­i­nals are held fully account­able for their actions and that the safety and secu­rity of law-abiding Cana­di­ans come first in Canada’s judi­cial sys­tem,” she wrote in an email.  “We will con­tinue to fight crime and pro­tect Cana­di­ans so that our com­mu­ni­ties are safe places for peo­ple to live, raise their fam­i­lies and do busi­ness.” For the entire open let­ter from the may­ors, go to www​.stopthe​vi​o​lencebc​.org and click on the link for B.C.  May­ors Call for Tax­a­tion and Reg­u­la­tion of Mar­i­juana. Source: Burn­aby Now, The (CN BC) Copy­right: 2012 Lower Main­land Pub­lish­ing Group Inc. Con­tact: editorial@​burnabynow.​com Web­site: http://​www​.burn​abynow​.com/ Author: Janaya Fuller-Evans

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