Not only to those who indulge in the occasional, or regular, toke. But also in law enforcement and social costs.
Growing, distributing and possessing pot are all illegal in Canada. Much of the growing and distribution are controlled by organized crime. Police, court and municipal authorities spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year enforcing Canada’s pot laws.
For the most part, it’s a cat-and-mouse chase that just ends up moving the problem around rather than eradicating it outright.
Even a former B.C. attorney general, Geoff Plant, says the prohibition of marijuana has been a “disastrous failure of public policy.”
Last month, the Union of B.C. Municipalities passed a resolution calling for marijuana to be decriminalized.
They’d rather the weed be regulated and taxed, much like alcohol.
That’s good news and bad news for the province’s 585,000 regular pot users.
They’d no longer be considered criminals, but they’d pay the price with taxes that have a way of always increasing.
But decriminalizing marijuana likely won’t save enforcement costs.
That’s because most of the money in marijuana made by the drug trade comes from producing it for export.
As long as pot is still illegal the United States, there will be organized groups looking to cash in. And there will still be pressure on authorities to shut those groups down.
The drug trade and its accompanying violence won’t go away with a resolution or the stroke of a pen through existing legislation.