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

Federal NDP may support B.C. with major projects, Carole James says

SkyTrain Surrey extension, Massey Tunnel need Ottawa’s help

Theft of dog-outfits ‘a huge hit’ to South Surrey mother-daughter business

Kathy Neumeyer says 100-plus dog sweaters and raincoats were nicked from her SUV last week

Diwali in Surrey: ‘Festival of light’ celebrations at several halls, a library, other venues

This year Diwali is on Sunday, Oct. 27, but Surrey-area events are held over a two-week period

Player-of-year Seumanutafa leads UBC to women’s rugby title

Semiahmoo grads help Thunderbirds to first-ever Canada West rugby title

People’s Party of Canada not finished, defeated Surrey candidate says

Surrey’s five PPC candidates combined received 4,213 votes

Raptors Bling: NBA champions receive their rings in pre-game ceremony

There are over 650 diamonds — at a weight of 14 carats — in the 14-karat yellow gold ring

Greta Thunberg declines invitation to Victoria due to time, not ferry emissions

Thunberg confirmed that she will be joining a climate strike at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Friday

‘Havoc and chaos:’ Alberta separatist group gains support as Liberals re-elected

The idea is getting interest from people in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of British Columbia

Feds finally decriminalizing drugs possible – but it’s up to Jagmeet Singh, expert says

National pharmacare was one of Singh’s most highly-touted platform policies

In the news: Wexit, Brexit and Trump sparks outrage

There’s been a surge of support for an Alberta separatist group

VIDEO: Man in his 20s in hospital following shooting in Abbotsford

Incident takes place Tuesday night in 31700 block of South Fraser Way

Horvat’s hat trick lifts Canucks to 5-2 win over Red Wings

First career three-goal game for Vancouver captain

Saanich Gulf-Islands’s Elizabeth May coy about leadership plans

The federal Green party leader talks possibility of running as MP without being leader

Most Read