Marijuana reform high on electorate’s list

Apr 20, 2013

Here’s some­thing you won’t see hap­pen on Sat­ur­day: Christy Clark or Adrian Dix’s cam­paign buses rolling up to the north lawn of the Van­cou­ver Art Gallery to the cheers of thou­sands of mar­i­juana activists. Nei­ther Mr. Dix nor Ms. Clark will push their way through the happy crowds and skunk-scented smoke, glad-handing poten­tial vot­ers. It is even less likely that either will make their way to the stage bran­dish­ing a freshly rolled spliff, spark it up and declare 4/20 offi­cially “on.” Nei­ther will inhale deeply, nor extol the virtues of weed, nor pass the dutchie to the left-hand side. And you cer­tainly won’t hear them mak­ing speeches call­ing for the decrim­i­nal­iza­tion, legal­iza­tion, or the reg­u­la­tion and tax­a­tion of pot. A pair of polls released this week sug­gests that the party lead­ers are lag­ging behind their con­stituents when it comes to atti­tudes about the decrim­i­nal­iza­tion and even­tual legal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana in B.C. In fact, if the poll num­bers are right, not dri­ving the cam­paign buses on to the art gallery lawn with Bob Mar­ley blar­ing from the speak­ers and wav­ing marijuana-leaf flags out the win­dows might be some­thing of a missed oppor­tu­nity. The first poll comes from the Sen­si­ble Change Soci­ety of B.C., a group headed by one-time fed­eral NDP can­di­date Dana Larsen, who with­drew from the 2008 race after a video show­ing him with a mouth­ful of joints sur­faced on the Web. Three years later, Mr. Larsen ran for the lead­er­ship of the BC NDP and won just 2.7 per cent of the vote. Mr. Larsen has pro­posed what he calls “The Sen­si­ble Polic­ing Act,” which would, first, direct police to ignore minor mar­i­juana offences, and sec­ond, call on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to repeal the pro­hi­bi­tion on mar­i­juana so the province could legally reg­u­late pot the same way it reg­u­lates alco­hol and tobacco. The poll shows that roughly 70 per cent of respon­dents sup­port both parts of the plan. It also shows that just under half of those sur­veyed say they would be more likely to sup­port a polit­i­cal leader who called for mar­i­juana reform. A sec­ond poll, also timed to coin­cide with the annual 4/20 “cannabis cel­e­bra­tion,” shows that nearly three-quarters of British Columbians would sup­port fur­ther research into the reg­u­la­tion and tax­a­tion of mar­i­juana. The Ipsos Reid poll shows sig­nif­i­cant sup­port for lead­ers who would endorse such research. In both polls, sup­port for mar­i­juana reform crosses all polit­i­cal stripes, geo­graphic bound­aries, age groups and lev­els of edu­ca­tion. This is, of course, not a new issue in our province. Stop the Vio­lence B.C., a coali­tion of law enforce­ment, health and aca­d­e­mic experts which com­mis­sioned the Ipsos Reid poll, has been argu­ing for mar­i­juana reform since the coali­tion was founded in 2011. Along with many oth­ers, Stop the Vio­lence con­tends that reg­u­lat­ing and tax­ing mar­i­juana pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion would take the prof­its out of the hands of crim­i­nal gangs, and result in not only safer streets but also in a poten­tial tax wind­fall for the province. But so far, even with num­bers that show sup­port for reform, even with the argu­ments that reg­u­la­tion would curb vio­lence and con­tribute sig­nif­i­cantly to provin­cial cof­fers, both Christy Clark and Adrian Dix have ducked the issue. When ques­tioned, both have repeat­edly pointed to the fact that drug enforce­ment is a fed­eral respon­si­bil­ity. Dana Larsen notes that nei­ther leader has had trou­ble com­ment­ing on other issues that are reg­u­lated by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. “We take action and talk about fed­eral issues all the time, whether it’s the Coast Guard sta­tion being closed or pipelines, or the long-gun reg­istry back in 2003, so there’s really no rea­son the province can’t take action on this issue as well,” Mr. Larsen said in an inter­view. Indeed, “Press­ing for new Coast Guard resources to be placed in Van­cou­ver” even appears in the Lib­eral Party’s plat­form. As for the NDP, Mr. Larsen sus­pects that while the party may be sym­pa­thetic, it would be folly to tackle an issue as con­tro­ver­sial as mar­i­juana legal­iza­tion dur­ing an elec­tion cam­paign. Pro­fes­sor Neil Boyd, who teaches crim­i­nol­ogy at Simon Fraser Uni­ver­sity, agrees that mak­ing mar­i­juana reform an issue dur­ing a provin­cial elec­tion cam­paign is dif­fi­cult. But like Mr. Larsen, Prof. Boyd says the province can play a part. “The province does have power over the admin­is­tra­tion of jus­tice and could cer­tainly decide not to spend, for exam­ple, the $10-million a year it cur­rently spends enforc­ing mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion laws,” he said. Given that it hap­pens to fall on Sat­ur­day, and in the mid­dle of an elec­tion cam­paign, orga­niz­ers of this year’s 4/20 rally esti­mate it will be the biggest gath­er­ing of its kind Van­cou­ver has ever seen. But it may have lit­tle impact once the smoke clears. Source: Globe and Mail Link: http://​www​.the​globe​and​mail​.com/​n​e​w​s​/​b​r​i​t​i​s​h​-​c​o​l​u​m​b​i​a​/​m​a​r​i​j​u​a​n​a​-​r​e​f​o​r​m​-​h​i​g​h​-​o​n​-​e​l​e​c​t​o​r​a​t​e​s​-​l​i​s​t​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​1​1​4​3​6​1​40/ Author: STEPHEN QUINN

5d51669073sativa.jpg 150x118 Marijuana reform high on electorate’s list

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Mar­i­juana reform high on electorate’s list

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