Thursday, April 26, 2012

VANCOUVER - A coalition of British Columbia mayors wants the province's political leaders to join forces to end marijuana prohibition and tax the drug so their communities are safer from gang violence linked to illegal grow-ops.
Mayors from Vancouver, Burnaby, North Vancouver City, Vernon, Armstrong, Enderby, Lake Country and Metchosin make the call in a joint letter to B.C.'s premier, Opposition NDP leader and B.C. Conservative party leader.
The mayors said strict regulation and taxation are key to a new marijuana policy.
"Given the ongoing gang activity, widespread availability of marijuana and high costs associated with enforcement, leaders at all levels of government must take responsibility for marijuana policy," they said in the letter.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the joint letter to Christy Clark, Adrian Dix and John Cummins reflects the need to remove partisan politics from marijuana regulation.
Several of the mayors lead communities that have already adopted motions supporting Stop the Violence BC, a coalition of academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts seeking changes to cannabis laws.
"We see the detrimental effects of marijuana prohibition in our communities on a daily basis," said Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan.
"Huge profits for organized crime and widespread gang violence in our cities are the result of this failed policy. We put our citizens and communities at risk by not taking action now."
A Stop the Violence spokesman said provincial and federal leaders must develop laws that address the health concerns of marijuana while raising tax revenues and wiping out the huge profits pocketed by gangs involved in the marijuana trade.
Last year, four former Vancouver mayors also endorsed the Stop the Violence BC coalition with an open letter to B.C. politicians.
Larry Campbell, Mike Harcourt, Sam Sullivan and Philip Owen said a change in Canada's laws to end pot prohibition will reduce gang violence.

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