Legalize marijuana and tax
it, study says
Publication Date: June 9, 2004
Published by: CTV.ca News Staff
While the Fraser Institute has released a report calling for marijuana's
legalization, it now says it doesn't endorse the report's views.
A headline on a press release quoted the right-wing think tank as saying
pot should be legalized so governments could tax the revenue.
However, the institute later said that was wrong and the report only reflected
the view of its author, Steve Easton, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.
Easton, an economics professor at B.C.'s Simon Fraser University, estimated
that legalizing and taxing marijuana could infuse $2 billion in revenue
into federal coffers.
He it was time the government profited from marijuana sales rather than
organized crime rings.
"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," he
said in a news release.
"Unless we wish to continue the transfer of these billions from this
lucrative endeavor to organized crime, the current policy on prohibition
should be changed. Not only would we deprive some very unsavoury groups
of a profound source of easy money, but also resources currently spent
on marijuana enforcement would be available for other activities."
The study estimates that there are about 17,500 marijuana growing operations
in British Columbia alone, but only 13 per cent of offenders are charged
and a majority (55 per cent) of those convicted receive no jail time.
"It seems to me a far better use of our resources is to use those
resources to make it legal, tax it in an appropriate way and, to the extent
it causes certain kinds of social problems, then we can deal with that
as part of the revenue," he said.
Prime Minister Paul Martin said last week that if the Liberals are re-elected,
he plans to reintroduce legislation decriminalizing the possession of less
than 15 grams of pot. That means offenders would be fined rather than receiving
Previous decriminalization legislation died last month when Parliament
was dissolved for the federal election campaign.
The Fraser Institute says some 23 per cent of Canadians have admitted
to using marijuana.
Opponents of looser marijuana laws say it could promote usage of harder