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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pot Decrim in Canada

What was the cost of last summer’s pot busts in Kaslo?.
How much did it cost the police to conduct these investigations and raids versus how much the defendants paid once they were convicted, if they were convicted?
When was the last time police went out to bust up a liquor still?
Point being, if pot were decriminalized and sold in a similar manner to alcohol, would we need to waste police resources, time and money, on busting pot growers?
If pot were decriminalized, would these growers even be interested, or willing, to continue operating illegally?
In Holland, pot is decriminalized and sold in licensed “coffee shops”, growers are licensed, and taxes are paid on the businesses and income from the activity. ” Possession of small quantities is permitted.
The result, according to the Dutch government, is many millions added to the tax base, a freeing up of police resources to deal with harder drugs, less court resources taken up prosecuting minor pot charges, and very few illegal grow ops (its easier to buy a license and do it legally).
Socially, there is less pot in the streets (its more comfy to go sit in a coffee shop) and a major reduction in the number of young people taking up the habit (the same thing happened when alcohol prohibition ended).
At a time when government revenues are tumbling, it seems odd a government claiming “fiscal responsibility” would continue to prosecute an activity that costs more than it yields. It also seems odd, while most reports indicate decriminalization, licensing and regulation of pot would create a major windfall for government coffers, the feds stringently hold onto their ideologically driven opposition. Franky, its fiscally irresponsible not to reconsider.
Another factor is the ongoing negative perception of the RCMP. They give lip service to the concept of “community policing” but seem more interested in getting neighbours to tattle-tale on each other. Community policing should be more about serving and reacting to the concerns of the community where the police are situated. Were the busts in Kaslo this summer conducted as a result of local pressure, or were the police operating under ideologically-based directions from Ottawa?
Most studies and reports indicate the “war on pot” is not working. Prohibition is resulting in gang violence (just as it did with alcohol), making criminals rich, and costing taxpayers untold millions.
Obviously, it is time we tried a new tact, especially when we need means of boosting the tax base! Most reports indicate decriminalization would do just that!
It is also time to face the fact that pot is not going away, just as we once acknowledged about booze.
How long will it be before common sense supplants unsuccessful ideological positions?
When will we finally learn from the mistakes of the past? When will our governments actually begin to demonstrate the fiscal responsibility they give so much credence to?
Finally, we can always give it a try and see if it works. The nice thing about laws is, we can always change them if they don’t work out!

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