Editorial: Time for a change to B.C. pot laws

Marijuana reform advocates in B.C. hope Washington and Colorado states’ vote to legalize and tax marijuana will add momentum to their push.

Marijuana reform advocates hope Washington and Colorado states’ vote Tuesday to legalize and tax marijuana sales will add momentum to their push for change in B.C.

While it’s not yet clear if the U.S. federal government will allow state-by-state legalization of recreational marijuana use – other states already allow medical marijuana sales – the vote has huge implications here.

Washington state estimates it would collect $560 million in the first year from a planned 25-per-cent tax on the sale of licensed, regulated marijuana through authorized stores.

If enacted, this could also cause a partial collapse of B.C.’s estimated $7-billion-a-year illegal pot industry, as growers relocate to the U.S. to avoid the need to smuggle.

Recently, the Union of B.C. Municipalities passed a resolution calling for marijuana to be decriminalized. They’d rather pot be regulated and taxed instead, much like alcohol.

The U.S. votes are a progressive move toward responsible marijuana use. It’s time for B.C. to take a similar step toward decriminalization, if not legalization of marijuana. The potential tax revenue and the opportunity to reduce law enforcement costs, and help unclog our court system is too much to pass up.

The poll results south of the border sent a message that U.S. drug policies are not working. As Canada’s drug policies follow the U.S. closely, it means ours aren’t working either – it’s time for a change.

Sensible B.C., a campaign headed by B.C. marijuana activist and medical pot dispenser Dana Larsen, wants to follow in the footsteps of both Washington campaigners and B.C.’s successful anti-HST drive. The group aims to get enough signatures on a petition to force a provincial referendum on marijuana decriminalization, through B.C.’s Recall and Initiative Act. The proposed Sensible Policing Act would block B.C. police from spending time or resources on searches, seizures or arrests for simple cannabis possession.

It’s time we take our antiquated marijuana laws and follow the lead of our neighbours to the south and let the people decide if it’s time for a change.

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