Legalization debate worth having, but marijuana is effectively decriminalized here already
Friday’s annual 4/20 day smoke-in on the grounds of the Vancouver Art Gallery, on Parliament Hill and in cities around the world had no shortage of supporters of the legalize marijuana issue or police keeping an eye on the illegal activities with no enforcement action. It has become the epitome of the hollowness of this country’s drug laws.
The reality is that in Canada in general, and more specifically in B.C., marijuana is effectively decriminalized as things stand today. Yes, the law is still on the books that possession of marijuana is against the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. But should it be?
On a personal level I can’t seem to get much worked up about it on either side of the question. There are, however, a great many folks who do and for some, like Jodie Emery, wife of jailed marijuana advocate Marc Emery, it seems to form the basis of her very existence.
Speaking with Senator Larry Campbell Monday, it was clear the former Vancouver mayor, who was a corporal in Langley RCMP’s drug section when I first met him, is very passionate about the subject. I get his argument that no one should get a criminal record for the possession of a small amount. I even get the argument that a taxed and controlled grow industry would be a revenue windfall for fiscally challenged governments.
Jodie Emery raised the canard on CKNW that legalizing pot would somehow cripple organized crime. Campbell also floated that balloon, although with less conviction.
While there’s no question the marijuana cultivation and trade is big business in B.C.’s black market, perhaps even bigger than the forest industry according to some reports, it is certainly not the only business in which the Hells Angels and other elements of organized crime dabble. Even if we made all drugs legal tomorrow, organized crime will still exist; they will still be violent and people will still be killed.
Frankly, if marijuana remains illegal in the USA, as it is today, the grow-ops here, run by various elements of organized crime, will still be every bit as active feeding the voracious appetite of the behemoth to the south of us. If they get caught here they face little in the way of penalties compared to what would await them if they tried to run the grow locally in American markets.
This is not a problem that is going away simply by legalizing marijuana as suggested by Jodie Emery and another group called Stop the Violence. The debate on legalization is worth having. But one thing is certain, the argument for legalizing is not as simple as the pro side make it appear.
- post by Leo Knight