A B.C. marijuana grow-op – part of the burgeoning $7-billion pot industry.

Health officers back legal marijuana

B.C. group says pot is not safe but criminal violence poses 'more danger' to public

A group of B.C. public health officers has joined a growing coalition of policy leaders urging the legalization and taxation of marijuana.

The Health Officers Council of B.C. voted to endorse Stop the Violence B.C. and called for regulation of illegal substances like marijuana to reduce the harm from substance use and the unintended consequences of government policies.

“The Health Officer’s Council and other experts are not saying that marijuana should be legalized and taxed because it is safe,” said Dr. Paul Hasselback, a Vancouver Island medical health officer who chairs the council.

“We are saying that proven public health approaches should be used to constrain its use. There is now more danger to the public’s health in perpetuating a market driven by criminal activity.”

The coalition argues prohibition has failed and enforcement has little impact on drug use, merely fueling the $7-billion illegal pot industry that experts say is directly linked to the spike in gang-related killings since 1997.

A report released by Stop the Violence says teens find it easy to buy marijuana and pot use among them is up considerably since the 1990s, despite heavy spending on drug enforcement.

“By every metric, this policy is failing to meet its objectives,” said Dr. Evan Wood, a Vancouver doctor and founder of the coalition.

By regulating the market, he said, the distribution and use of marijuana would be more controlled and would also eliminate organized crime from the equation.

It would also provide a source of tax revenue in the hundreds of millions, he added.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall said he generally agrees with the public health officers’ statement on marijuana reform although he was not formally part of their endorsement.

“I support their call for a review of the effectiveness of current prohibition and criminalization and discussion of a more effective public health-based approach,” Kendall said.

Cannabis arrests in Canada climbed from 39,000 in 1990 to more than 65,000 in 2009, according to the coalition.

An estimated 27 per cent of young B.C. residents aged 15-24 used pot at least once in 2008, according to one poll.

Four former Vancouver mayors have also backed the coalition.

Just Posted

Unique treasures to be found at Chilliwack Christmas Craft Market

The 44th annual event is the Chilliwack Community Arts Council’s largest fundraiser

Chilliwack toy drive brings in gifts, money to Ann Davis Transition Society

People dropped by Superstore to donate toys and more for those in need this holiday season

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Nov. 18 to 24

Chilliwack RCMP find chemicals and cannabis extract in illicit lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Chilliwack RCMP seek suspects in rash of poppy donation box thefts

Incidents at four different locations in Sardis in the days leading up to Remembrance Day

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

UPDATE: Hells Angels on scene after body found in Maple Ridge

Body was discovered beneath the Golden Ears Bridge

Mountie left with ‘significant’ injuries after driver attempts to flee traffic stop

Richmond RCMP are looking for a dark coloured Mercedes Benz

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Most Read