Fraser Institute study calls
for legal pot
Written by CBC News Online
Last Updated Wed, 09 Jun 2004
VANCOUVER - Legalizing marijuana could add $2 billion to government
coffers and deprive criminals of pots of easy money, says a new study
released on Wednesday by the Fraser Institute.
• IN DEPTH: Marijuana
If the government were to regulate and tax the marijuana production
industry, the report suggests little would change, except where the
Stephen Easton, a professor of economics at Simon Fraser University,
wrote the report for the Fraser Institute, a right-wing think tank.
He noted that nearly a quarter of Canadians say they have smoked
marijuana, and that large amounts of it are grown in Canada.
In British Columbia alone, Easton estimates, there are 17,500 grow
"If we treat marijuana like any other commodity, we can tax
it, regulate it, and use the resources the industry generates rather
than continue a war against consumption and production that has long
since been lost," Easton said.
Easton estimates the B.C. marijuana industry is worth $7 billion.
Those caught are rarely charged. Those convicted rarely go to jail.
Some have been making the same argument for years. A Senate report
two years ago urged the government to get involved in regulating
the production and distribution of marijuana
Marc Emery, president of the B.C. Marijuana Party and head of a
pot and hemp-based business empire, is another.
"The safety to the consumer and the general public would be
terrific, and we'd save about $500 million in our Canadian criminal
justice system from reduction of court costs, jails – oh, it
would be tremendous," said Emery.
Police believe legalizing marijuana would be a big mistake. "There's
no amount of justification here to legalize illicit substances such
as marijuana," said Sgt. Dave Goddard of the Vancouver Police. "It
does too much damage to our community."
Parliament was considering a bill that would have decriminalized
possession of small amounts of marijuana but it died on the Order
Paper when the election was called.
The Fraser Institute insisted later on Tuesday that it "does
not take positions on issues."
"Like all authors of the Institute's studies, [Professor Stephen
Easton]works independently and the views expressed by [him] therefore
are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of the members
or trustees of the Fraser Institute," a second new release said.