Published by the Langara Voice, March 4th, 2012, online
Four former B.C. attorneys-general, including former MP of Vancouver South Ujjal Dosanjh, are publicly asking the province to push for the legalization and regulation of marijuana.
Drug law is legislated federally, but the group is asking B.C.’s Liberal government to lobby the federal government to change the law.
The group was approached by Stop The Violence B.C., an organization dedicated to raising awareness about the connection between cannabis prohibition and gang-related violence.
Prohibition only creating more problems
“Legalization of marijuana would cut the criminal side out of [the equation],” said Graeme Bowbrick, one of the attorneys-general who helped write the letter to the provincial government. “Prohibition does not stop usage.”
The four politicians believe that marijuana should be outright legalized, taxed and treated much like alcohol or tobacco.
Dosanjh and current Vancouver South MP Wai Young were both unavailable for comment.
Public perception of marijuana changing
A poll collected by Angus Reid found 78 per cent of British Columbians are dissatisfied with the provincial government’s current treatment of marijuana.
“We are on the cusp of change,” said Bowbrick.
Fourteen states in the U.S. have decriminalized marijuana already, damaging the argument that our neighbours would be upset if this were to occur.
“There has been zero negative reaction,” said Bowbrick. “People have known and felt for a long time that prohibition does not work. They know times are changing.”
Decriminalization the safer course of action?
Richard Mathias, professor of public health in the School of Population and Public Health at UBC and spokesperson for the Health Officer’s Council of British Columbia said marijuana should only be decriminalized.
“If by legalization [one] means free market without restraints . . . that would be a disaster,” said Mathias.
“The law is to protect people from non-consensual harm,” said Mathias. “Those that [use] marijuana consent to do so.”
“Taxing and regulating marijuana takes gangs out of the equation,” said Mathias.