As noble as it sounds that the UBCM wants to fight what the mayor of Metchosin calls the “enormous costs of enforcing a thoroughly discredited policy,” I’m afraid it has more to do with fighting organized crime for the $2.7 billion in annual cannabis revenue than it does fighting organized crime.
The Canadian justice system is a $13 billion a year industry (that doesn’t include the money spent on defence lawyers), and of that $13 billion, only $200 million is spent on police, courts and corrections costs involving marijuana. If the UBCM is really concerned with enforcement costs, a good place to start would be the 16 per cent of all guilty cases in Canada that involve drinking and driving, most of which could easily be handled in traffic court.
I agree we need a more rational approach toward cannabis — licensing users works for me — but the UBCM’s resolution to decriminalize marijuana isn’t motivated by some noble attempt to stand up for efficiency and public safety, it’s just the latest funding formula that conveniently preserves government’s prerogative for pandering legislation. What we need is a definition of crime that prevents the production of a later-to-be-discredited policy, not a money grab that discredits the politicians who make the policy.
(The source for the $13 billion figure is the University of Ottawa, $200 million figure the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, 16 per cent figure Maclean’s Sept. 10, 2012 edition.)