Editorial: Change needed

A study released this month has revealed the cost the failed war on drugs is having on the British Columbia economy.

A study released this month has revealed the cost the failed war on drugs is having on the British Columbia economy.

A new study by a coalition of researchers from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University estimates the B.C. cannabis market could provide the government with $2.5 billion in tax and licensing revenues over the next five years.

“If you begin to stand back and calculate just how much potential tax revenue is instead going to fuel organized crime, it really highlights how we need to start questioning our current approach,” said Dr. Evan Wood, senior author of the study.

The study is just the latest blow against those who remain committed to preserve and protect the profit margins of organized crime. The study challenges one of the primary arguments against regulating marijuana: that the market cannot be taxed. Critics had previously pointed to U.S. drug laws as a reason why B.C. shouldn’t move towards decriminalization. But when Colorado and Washington state voters approved the legalization of marijuana use, that argument went up in smoke.

“When you look at the enormous potential to save on policing costs, raise government revenue and wage economic war on organized crime, you understand why U.S. states have recently taken the taxation and regulation approach,” said former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh.

The list of those calling for changes to marijuana laws has grown to include those from across the political spectrum. The Union of B.C. Municipalities passed a resolution earlier this year calling for the decriminalization of marijuana. Stop the Violence B.C. is a group B.C. law enforcement officials, politicians, legal experts and public health officials advocating changes to the government’s marijuana policies.

It seems the only ones left still supporting the current drug laws are those who make their living in organized crime — and their unwitting allies in the provincial and federal governments.

 

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