EDITORIAL: Legalize pot, save health care

Decriminalizing and taxing marijuana could mean big bucks for education, environment and infrastructure

There’s a reverse echo going on around the country.

Whenever Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says something, his comments are invariably followed by a response, usually snide, from the Prime Minister’s Office, in other words, Stephen Harper.

Last week, Trudeau was in B.C. and he spoke for the decriminalization of marijuana.

Not surprisingly, the PMO came out chastising Trudeau for his comments.  Why not? Harper has nurtured a tough on crime reputation.

To the Conservative government’s credit crime across Canada appears to be on the decrease, according to Stats Canada data released last week.

Interestingly enough, statistics for marijuana-related offences are on the rise and began rising at about the time Harper and the Conservatives won their first minority government.

Coincidence?

The point is, the Conservative government, previous governments and the U.S. federal and state governments have tried to put the lid on marijuana cultivation, distribution and use.

The end result has been a very expensive failure.

Estimates of the annual value of the marijuana economy vary, but let’s pick a conservative $10 billion.

If marijuana were legalized, the federal government could keep $9 billion and pass $1 billion off  to health care, education or social housing.

What about endangered species, the coast guard or infrastructure upgrades?

It’s time to rethink the approach to the war on drugs, legalizing marijuana would be a profitable and useful first step.