Raids on pot dispensaries an utter waste

Raids on pot dispensaries an utter waste

Many B.C. residents received doctor’s notes giving them access to “medical alcohol”

Raids on pot dispensaries an utter waste

The few voices of prohibition in the Cowichan Valley appear to be making a bit of noise these days regarding the opening and closing of some of the Cowichan Valley marijuana dispensaries.

I wonder if folks know that B.C. had a prohibition on alcohol from 1917 to 1921, before the U.S. enacted its country-wide prohibition. The referendum to enact prohibition in B.C. narrowly passed in favour, so in 1917 it became illegal to consume alcohol, but not to produce it. If you were caught drinking alcohol you could receive a jail sentence of six to 21 months.

The jail sentences did not, however, stop B.C. residents from consuming alcohol. Prior to the prohibition B.C. residents consumed twice as much alcohol than anywhere else in Canada. Organized crime, speakeasies and subterranean drinking establishments were numerous during the five year prohibition period, making some influential folks very wealthy. The hypocrisy of B.C.’s alcohol prohibition came to an end in 1921 when B.C. became the first province to allow its residents to legally consume alcohol and the first to create government liquor stores.

The prohibition against marijuana has lasted decades and there are still faint sounds coming from those who seek to regulate the behaviour of others where little or no harm against others exists. A poll conducted last year showed 75 per cent of B.C. residents in favour of legalization. The recent federal independent committee report on legalizing marijuana made a number of positive recommendations which regulate who can consume, the access to production and potential sales and revenue.

The fact that marijuana has been consumed by a large percentage of B.C. residents over the years despite being illegal, and the relaxation of criminal prosecutions for over a decade, should see the end of the type of raids that recently occurred in North Cowichan and Langford. It’s time to remove the last grip of prohibition and hopefully the last grip organized crime has in the growing, distribution and sales of marijuana.

Using public safety dollars raiding dispensaries and retail outlets of marijuana when legalization is months away is an utter waste. Real criminal activity that harms others should be the priority and target of our police officers. To the few residents and politicians who cannot shake the bonds of early 20th century prohibition, your battle and war is over.

One final funny note on alcohol consumption during B.C.’s short-lived prohibition; it was not illegal to consume alcohol for “medicinal purposes” and many B.C. residents received doctor’s notes giving them access to “medical alcohol”. An interesting parallel, don’t you think?

Phil Le Good

Cobble Hill