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B.C. Liberal Senator: "Tax The Hell Out Of It"

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
VANCOUVER -- A B.C. Liberal senator says the federal government should decriminalize marijuana and ''tax the hell out of it,'' with the revenue going to public services such as health care.

Senator Larry Campbell says too much time and effort is being wasted with criminal prosecutions for minor amounts of the drug while organized crime reaps massive profits from the drug's cultivation.

And, he says, a lot of police officers are looking the other way when it comes to busting people for having marijuana.

He said Wednesday it's a drain on officers' time to spend five hours producing paperwork for marijuana charges.

The drug should be treated the same way alcohol is with its production controlled and sales regulated, Campbell said.

"This is not a drug that causes criminality,'' he said. "People are getting criminal records for essentially nothing.''

A new study shows Canadians surpass Americans and even the Dutch when it comes to trying marijuana, but drug policy experts say it's not a cause for concern.

The UN's 2007 World Drug Report found 16.8 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 64 used pot in 2004 _ the highest rate among developed nations.

The report studied the prevalence of marijuana use in 2005 or the latest year for which data was available.

By comparison, 12.6 per cent of American respondents said they have tried pot.

Britain, France, Germany and Japan all reported much lower rates than Canada.

However, despite the rise in the social acceptance of marijuana, the number of people arrested for smoking pot rose dramatically in several Canadian cities last year.

The spike in arrests came after the Conservatives took office and killed a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

Several police officials say the trend is linked directly to that move.

Former Conservative MP Randy White said Campbell should move on to issues that have a hope of going somewhere under a Conservative government.

''He's definitely trying to keep the thing alive but let's face it, it's going to die,'' White said.

White said the fact the Liberals let the bill die on the order paper in the last Parliament shows how committed Campbell's own party is to the issue.

''It just went nowhere,'' he said.

National statistics will be released next week but preliminary figures compiled by The Canadian Press suggest the number of arrests jumped by more than one-third in several Canadian cities.

Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Halifax all reported increases of between 20 and 50 per cent in 2006 from the previous year.

Montreal and Calgary had their arrest numbers dip slightly.

As a result, thousands of people were charged with a criminal offence that just recently was within a whisker of extinction.

In 2002, 26,882 people were charged with marijuana offences.

As the issue worked its way through Parliament prior to falling off the order paper as the election arrived in 2006, the numbers of those charged plunged and held steady below the 19,000 mark.

The head of one police association said many forces simply stopped laying charges after the Liberals first introduced a decriminalization bill under Jean Chretien in 2003.

"There were several police jurisdictions not laying the simple ... possession charges,'' said Terry McLaren, president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.

"Everybody was waiting for what was going to happen. ... There'd be no use clogging up the court system with that decriminalization bill there.''

"'When that was defeated, I'd say it was business as usual.''

Campbell couldn't say how marijuana would be produced and if it could be the federal government that would grow the plants.

''I don't know how that would work,'' he said. ''If you wanted to grow a plant in your backyard, so what,'' he said. ''It's like me going and making plonk at the wine store.''

In the smoke of B.C. Marijuana Party headquarters, Canada's so-called Prince of Pot, Marc Emery, said the fact one in six Canadians admits to smoking pot indicates how progressive the country is.

In fact, he believes the number is higher.

"Pot is the only drug that is inherently political,'' he said. "People who want strict conditional obedience in our society are the only ones who are against pot.''

Emery is currently facing extradition proceedings in the Canadian courts. The U.S. wants him sent south to face charges.

He has been arrested more than 20 times in Canada and later this month will be in B.C. Supreme Court for a hearing to determine whether he will be extradited to the U.S. to face charges of selling marijuana seeds to Americans through the mail.

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Source: CTV.ca
Contact: CTV.ca | Contact Us
Copyright: CTV.ca
Website: CTV.ca | B.C. Liberal senator wants pot treated like booze
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