Pot laws up in smoke?

That skunk-like smell of high-grade marijuana wafting through the air at rock concerts or in city parks during the annual “smoke-in” protests is not going to blow away in the wind.

That skunk-like smell of high-grade marijuana wafting through the air at rock concerts or in city parks during the annual “smoke-in” protests is not going to blow away in the wind.

Like it or not, pot is here to stay no matter how tough the laws get. And the tax-free, multibillion-dollar underground industry will continue to breed the criminal element that stops at nothing, including murder, to protect the trade.

During last week’s U.S. elections, voters in the Colorado and Washington voted in favour of legalizing cannabis.

While U.S. authorities say the victory could be short-lived because federally the substance is still illegal, voters in those two states have made a significant statement that Canada and the rest of the U.S. can’t ignore.

On the same day, Canada’s tough new mandatory penalties for pot came into effect.

Canada’s new law will likely have little impact on the trade here. It’s too rich to be denied.

The criminal element is raking in an estimated $6 billion to $8 billion annually — tax-free. And frequent drug-related murders attest to the fact that criminal gangs are serious about protecting their trade.

A study released prior to the U.S. elections by a respected Mexican think tank said legalizing marijuana in those two states will hit the Mexican drug cartels hard in the wallet. The Mexican Competitive Institute said in its report that drug cartel earnings from traffic to the U.S. could be reduced as much as 30 per cent.

Those drug cartels, according to recent statistics, have been linked to almost 60,000 murders in Mexico in the past six years. In addition, the lure of immense profits have meant that criminal elements have infiltrated the Mexican government, corrupting high-ranking officials.

Do the almost 60,000 murders not bolster the argument that legalization would make a serious dent in the criminal element?

Despite Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s pledge to crack down on the cartels, the killings continue unabated. To date this year, more than 11,000 murders have been linked to the cartels. In October, 888 people were killed — the second-lowest monthly total this year.

Closer to home, growers in B.C. of a particularly powerful pot are nervous about the U.S. vote results. Legalization in Washington could impact the demand for B.C. pot.

The Canadian coalition Stop the Violence B.C. is confident the Washington vote will have an impact on gang violence in that province. The group, made up former judges, Crown prosecutors and high-ranking political figures, is adamant that prohibition of pot is a failed strategy. It fuels bloody gangs wars, they contend, and facilitates the influx of guns and cocaine when it’s traded into the U.S. via organized crime.

“The take-away for politicians is to realize voters on both sides of the border are increasingly wanting this change, and that should make politicians both nervous about what will happen if they don’t listen to voters and also less nervous about the risk associated with the change,” said coalition supporter Geoff Plant, a former B.C. attorney general.

Other proponents say the U.S. votes demonstrate that Canada is falling behind the U.S. in developing evidence-based policies. The evidence is clear — the trade in pot cultivates a criminal element and robs the tax bank of billions of dollars.

But the Harper government charges on, calling for a minimum six months in jail for growing as few as six pot plants. That’s twice the mandatory minimum for luring children to watch pornography or exposing oneself on a playground.

University of Ottawa criminologist Eugene Oscapella sums it up perfectly: “People have begun increasingly to realize the current system, the use of the criminal law, imports terrible, terrible collateral harms — and it does not stop people from using drugs.”

Rick Zemanek is a former Advocate editor.

Just Posted

WATCH: NDP Official Opposition host budget town hall in Red Deer

Red Deerians shared concerns about provincial funding cuts for education and health… Continue reading

With a new syphilis outbreak in Alberta, infectious disease testing is made easier in Red Deer

Shining Mountains Living Community Services staff can do quick, simple dry blood spot test

Central Alberta home sales down 10 per cent from 2018

August sales 17.7 per cent lower than August 2018

Trudeau asks Canada to look to his current, not past, actions on race

Justin Trudeau’s privileged upbringing created a “massive blind spot” when it came… Continue reading

Singh urges Canadians to consider troubling impact of Trudeau photos, video

OTTAWA — Jagmeet Singh challenged Canadians Thursday to try to see through… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Wednesday Central Alberta Historical Society annual general meeting is 6 p.m. at… Continue reading

‘We can move on with our lives:’ Alberta parents acquitted in death of toddler

LETHBRIDGE — An Alberta mother and father who treated their ill son… Continue reading

Trudeau asks Canada to look to his current, not past, actions on race

Justin Trudeau’s privileged upbringing created a “massive blind spot” when it came… Continue reading

Appeal court rules 3-2 in favour of law that slashed Toronto city council

TORONTO — Ontario’s top court has upheld a provincial law that slashed… Continue reading

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who jumped naked into Toronto shark tank

TORONTO — A British Columbia man apologized to a judge on Thursday… Continue reading

Local Sports: Queens basketball team energized

You could tell by the look on her face that RDC Queens… Continue reading

Logan Kilgore gets start at QB for Edmonton Eskimos with Trevor Harris hurt

EDMONTON — In just his second regular-season game at quarterback in almost… Continue reading

Kaillie Humphries participates in USA bobsled push trials in unofficial role

Kaillie Humphries participates in USA bobsled push trials in unofficial role LAKE… Continue reading

Most Read