Coalition Calls for Marijuana Legalization and Regulation to Reduce Gang Violence

Coalition of BC Law Enforcement, Health and Academic Experts Call for Marijuana Legalization and Regulation to Reduce Gang Violence

New Polls Shows 87% of British Columbians Link Gang Violence to Organized Crime’s Control of Marijuana Trade

October 27, 2011 [Vancouver, Canada] – In the wake of high-profile gang violence related to the illegal marijuana industry in BC, a new coalition of academic, legal and health experts has released the first of a series of reports and polling results aimed at pressuring politicians to legally regulate marijuana sales under a public health framework.

The Angus Reid poll says 87% of BC respondents link gang violence to organized crime’s efforts to control the province’s massive illegal cannabis trade while the report, called Breaking the Silence, clearly demonstrates that cannabis prohibition in BC has been ineffective and caused significant social harms and public safety issues.

“From a scientific and public health perspective we know that making marijuana illegal has not achieved its stated objectives of limiting marijuana supply or rates of use,” said Dr. Evan Wood, a coalition member and Director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. “Given that marijuana prohibition has created a massive financial windfall for violent organized crime groups in BC, we must discuss alternatives to today’s failed laws with a focus on how to decrease violence, remove the illicit industry’s profit motive and improve public health and safety.”

The new coalition, Stop the Violence BC, released the report in tandem with results from an Angus Reid poll that overwhelmingly demonstrates that lawmakers lag far behind public opinion on revamping marijuana laws in BC.

Breaking the Silence: Cannabis prohibition, organized crime, and gang violence