Larry Campbell, Philip Owen, and Sam Sullivan - Three former Vancouver mayors: We can’t afford a war on weed
Canada has reached a critical time in its misguided War on Weed. Despite investing countless billions across North America in areas such as law enforcement, prison expansion and border controls, marijuana prohibition has been a costly failure. Youth today have easier access to pot than alcohol and tobacco, organized crime is getting rich and some neighbourhoods remain deadly combat zones as arrests lead to new rounds of turf warfare among gangs controlling the marijuana trade.
Now, Canada’s federal government and the B.C. provincial government are on the verge of committing many more billions of our tax dollars to this failed policy.
Since 1908, when Canada passed the Anti-Opium Act, we have had a century of experience to know that an approach that emphasizes prohibition and leans heavily on costly law enforcement and imprisonment will fail.
The federal and provincial governments should heed the words of the Fraser Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank that opposes marijuana prohibition and laments the fact that marijuana-related revenue and profits go straight to criminal enterprises rather than government coffers.
Politicians at all levels — whether in government or opposition — can no longer ignore the violence, crime and financial costs to taxpayers related to marijuana prohibition. By taxing and regulating marijuana under a strict public health framework, politicians can help stop the growth of a massive underground economy that enriches gangsters rather than the public purse and does nothing to prevent young people from easily accessing marijuana. Politicians must act, now, before billions more are foolishly spent and further blood is shed.
It’s time politicians recognize that prohibition has been with us for 103 years, and ask themselves, “How are we doing so far?”