Pot referendum could be a bargain

The costs associated with the referendum are dwarfed by expenses of investigating, arresting, charging, prosecuting.

To the Editor,

Re: Pot referendum a waste of money, Letters, Sept. 3.

The letter writer asks if Dana Larsen, director for Sensible B.C., is “footing the bill” for the referendum. Sensible B.C. pays the costs of the petition to initiate a referendum to change the provincial Police Act.

If there are 400,000 signatures collected by Dec. 5, the subsequent referendum in 2014 becomes a public expense. However, the costs associated with the referendum are dwarfed by the policing expenses which are now consumed in investigating, arresting, charging, prosecuting and executing the sentence of those in possession of marijuana. British Columbians now pay at least $10 million every year for enforcing possession of marijuana charges.

The letter writer alleges that “our track record of keeping tobacco out of the hands of children is not good and the same will happen with marijuana if it is openly available in the home.”

According to Health Canada, 27 per cent of 15-19 year olds were smokers in 1985, compared to 17 per cent today. This significant decline in the use of Canada’s deadliest legal drug is likely the result of public education and strict regulations around the advertising and sale of tobacco.

Apparently, it is possible to keep children from drugs without threatening to lock them up.

John AndersonVIU criminology departmentNanaimo