Don’t worry, be happy

an overwhelming two-thirds of British Columbians are now in favour of making recreational marijuana legal

B.C. is going to have a difficult time shaking its hippy reputation with a recent Angus Reid poll saying that an overwhelming two-thirds of British Columbians are now in favour of revamping our country’s outdated criminal code to make smoking and growing marijuana legal.

Somewhere in Alberta, a cowboy just did a spit-take from his bottle of beer while resting his snakeskin boots on the bitumen-encrusted chrome siderail of an SUV larger than some of Victoria’s new breed of studio condos: “for the single person who likes to use the washroom and cook breakfast at the same time.”

The reason for the spit-take, however, is only partially because of our collective moral stand on both the medical and recreational use of this mild intoxicant, and more on the business model we want to see in place of illegal drug trafficking.

In the poll, released last week, responders said they want to see a move away from prohibition toward a system of regulation and taxation.

In other words: Green Gold.

Alberta has its Black Gold — ours happens to be green, and while Alberta’s oil industry is based on non-replenishing fossil fuels, B.C. could become a world leader in renewable, organic cannabis.

Unfortunately, unlike the oil industry, the legalization of marijuana would only be a small blip on our economic radar. Regulation and taxation won’t suddenly fill our financial coffers with billions of dollars in revenue. Instead, it will turn your neighbourhood dope dealer into the equivalent of your neighbourhood liquor store. Even more likely, is that your neighbourhood liquor store will simply start carrying a fine selection of micro-grown cannabis to complement its selection of micro-brewed beer.

Instead of a discount plastic baggie filled with no-name buds, you’ll be presented with funky packaging, custom labels and manicured product. Entrepreneurs will research some of your father’s and grandfather’s favourite pipe-tobacco blends to offer hydroponic bud combined with essence of cherry, chocolate, licorice or mint.

Legalization won’t be the downfall of civilization nor will it be our economic saviour, but it will get one more silly regulation off our plate. Our biggest boon will be in saving time and money on policing, prosecution, court costs, jail time, etc., that we are currently flushing down the toilet. Nobody, not even our local police, wants to spend time busting someone for smoking weed when those resources are better spent protecting society from real and dangerous criminals.

The other upside will be fewer loopholes for people who depend on medical marijuana to better their lives. Our current medical marijuana dispenseries are held together on a shoestring — and that’s just wrong.  M

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