|Nirvana Wellness Center
|“…[T]he assumption that this approach reduces cannabis potency, increases price or meaningfully reduces cannabis availability and use is inconsistent with virtually all available data”
Throwing more and more money at anti-marijuana law enforcement does not meaningfully reduce the potency, or availability of cannabis and creates lucrative profit opportunities for organized crime, according to a new report by a group of marijuana policy advocates.
The report, “How Not To Protect Community Health and Safety: What the Government’s Own Data say about the Effects of Cannabis Production” [PDF
] was released on last week, reports Tara Carman at the Vancouver Sun
. It argues that marijuana should be regulated, taxed and sold under government oversight.
The paper, by Stop The Violence BC
, a group of law enforcement and public health officials, politicians and academics which includes former Vancouver mayors Larry Campbell, Philip Owen and Sam Sullivan, as well as Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and other prominent drug policy experts.
The report takes a new look at 20 years of data collected by the Canadian and United States governments and highlights what the authors say is the failure of marijuana prohibition to eliminate or even meaningfully reduce access to cannabis.
Canada’s National Anti-Drug Strategy has gotten $260 million in tax money, mostly for drug law enforcement, since 2007, according to the report. Canada-wide, marijuana-related arrests increased to more than 65,000 in 2009 from 39,000 in 1990.
But 27 percent of B.C. youth between 15 and 24 years old reported using cannabis at least once during the past year. And the prevalence of annual marijuana use among Ontario high school students has doubled since the early 1990s, according to the report.
“The unmistakable interpretation of government surveillance data is that increased funding for anti-cannabis law enforcement does increase cannabis seizure and arrests, but the assumption that this approach reduces cannabis potency, increases price of meaningfully reduces cannabis availability and use is inconsistent with virtually all available data,” the report said [italics added].
British Columbia’s cannabis industry is worth about $7 billion a year, according to the report. Much of that cash goes into the coffers of organized crime; gang-related shootings have increased in the province in recent years.
The authors recommend, among other measures, decriminalizing, licensing and taxing marijuana and restricting its sale similarly to that of alcohol.
An accompanying poll from Angus Reid found that that most British Columbians (59 percent) disagree with the statement that marijuana is more harmful than alcohol. Almost as many (54 percent) disagreed with the statement that marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug.
That poll, conducted in September, surveyed 800 B.C.’ers and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.