Approve I-502, Legalize Marijuana

Oct 31, 2012

Are you aware that pass­ing Ini­tia­tive 502 is one of the best ways to reduce inter­na­tional gang vio­lence? Like the vio­lent car­tels grip­ping Mex­ico, British Colum­bia is affected by the organized-crime groups which con­trol its huge mar­i­juana indus­try. These gangs pro­duce and export BC Bud to Amer­i­can con­sumers, includ­ing the 6.8 mil­lion res­i­dents of Wash­ing­ton state. British Columbian gangs are com­pet­ing for the rev­enue they gen­er­ate from the marijuana-export indus­try. Econ­o­mists have esti­mated the local mar­ket to be worth up to $7 bil­lion annu­ally. The fight for these riches explains why Seattle’s for­mer top fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor, John McKay, has said, “British Columbia-based gangs smug­gling high-grade pot are the dom­i­nant orga­nized crime in the North­west.” In our roles as a public-health physi­cian and a police offi­cer, we have spent most of our careers at the fore­front of anti-drug efforts in British Colum­bia. We have wit­nessed the bloody after­math of shoot­ings, stab­bings and other vio­lent con­fronta­tions that are com­mon in British Columbia’s mar­i­juana indus­try. The level of vio­lence that is now accepted as the new nor­mal in British Colum­bia is stag­ger­ing. In 2009 alone, there were no fewer than 276 inci­dents of drive-by shoot­ings in the province. Local police described these shoot­ings as often occur­ring “with­out regard for pub­lic safety.” While Cana­dian laws allow for the use of med­ical mar­i­juana, pos­ses­sion of the drug for recre­ational use, even in small amounts, remains ille­gal. We do not con­done illicit-drug use, but our expe­ri­ences pro­vid­ing med­ical treat­ment in hospital-emergency rooms and inves­ti­gat­ing gang activ­ity have gal­va­nized our inter­est in reduc­ing vio­lence con­nected to the illegal-marijuana trade. By every mea­sure, mar­i­juana pro­hi­bi­tion has failed to achieve its stated objec­tives. For exam­ple, the U.S. National Insti­tutes of Health con­cluded that over the last 30 years of mar­i­juana pro­hi­bi­tion the drug has remained “almost uni­ver­sally avail­able to Amer­i­can 12th-graders,” with between 80 per­cent and 90 per­cent con­sis­tently say­ing the drug is “very easy” or “fairly easy” to obtain. U.S. gov­ern­ment data also shows that, since 1990, the potency of mar­i­juana has increased by 145 per­cent and the price has decreased by 58 per­cent, sug­gest­ing that the mar­ket for mar­i­juana has become over­sat­u­rated. In short, mar­i­juana has become more acces­si­ble to young peo­ple today than alco­hol and tobacco. Action is long over­due, but Cana­dian law­mak­ers have been slow to con­sider cannabis-policy reform, cit­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of ret­ri­bu­tion from the U.S. Drug Enforce­ment Agency and the White House. In this con­text, Cana­di­ans have taken a great inter­est in Ini­tia­tive 502 and the real like­li­hood that Wash­ing­ton state will vote to tax and reg­u­late the adult use of mar­i­juana. From a public-health and community-safety per­spec­tive, since mar­i­juana remains ille­gal in Canada, Ini­tia­tive 502 has the poten­tial to take away local orga­nized crime’s biggest cash cow. Starv­ing the local marijuana-industry gangs could have the same impact as end­ing Pro­hi­bi­tion had on Al Capone and oth­ers. In the face of cor­rup­tion, vio­lence and wide­spread dis­re­spect for the law, British Colum­bia voted to repeal alco­hol pro­hi­bi­tion in 1920. This set an exam­ple for Wash­ing­ton state, which fol­lowed suit in 1932. With respect to the harms of anti-cannabis laws, Wash­ing­ton state vot­ers could set an exam­ple for Canada, while also end­ing a sys­tem where demand for cannabis directly con­tributes to orga­nized crime and gang vio­lence. We are hes­i­tant to intrude on the affairs of another nation, yet so many lives are at stake. Ini­tia­tive 502 is a rare oppor­tu­nity for the cit­i­zens of Wash­ing­ton state to demon­strate inter­na­tional lead­er­ship in the field of jus­tice reform. Your north­ern neigh­bor, and indeed the entire world, awaits your his­toric deci­sion. Dr. Evan Wood is a pro­fes­sor of med­i­cine at the Uni­ver­sity of British Colum­bia and founder of Stop the Vio­lence BC. David Bratzer is a Cana­dian police offi­cer who serves on the board of Law Enforce­ment Against Pro­hi­bi­tion. His per­sonal views do not rep­re­sent those of his employer. Source: Seat­tle Times (WA) Author: Evan Wood and David Bratzer, Spe­cial to The Seat­tle Times Pub­lished: Octo­ber 30, 2012 Copy­right: 2012 The Seat­tle Times Com­pany Con­tact: opinion@​seatimes.​com Web­site: http://​www​.seat​tle​times​.com/

77d227bfd69.bin .jpg 150x96 Approve I 502, Legalize Marijuana

Here is the orig­i­nal post:
Approve I-502, Legal­ize Marijuana

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