Regardless how Californians vote in today’s referendum on legalizing marijuana, a precedent will have been set that will reach voters and lawmakers here, says Vancouver’s former drug policy co-ordinator.
“(This) will certainly help the movement in Canada to legalize and regulate cannabis,” said Donald MacPherson, adding that when so many people are united in calling for change, then politicians have to take notice.
MacPherson said it’s clear the current system — where prisons are filled with drug users and the narcotics trade is able to flourish — doesn’t work.
“Our drug laws were created in a different world, in the early ’50s,” he said. “Legislation is before Parliament now to impose mandatory minimum sentences on drug-related crimes. These will catch a lot of low-level drug users, will increase prison populations and will cost a fortune to implement.”
MacPherson, who will be sharing this message tomorrow night at a public salon hosted by former mayor Sam Sullivan, said punishment-based polices miss the point.
“Drugs are not the problem,” he said. “The problem is, why do people use drugs? That’s what a public heath approach would focus on.”
MacPherson said the discussion should be seen within a context of global re-thinking of international drug policies because the evidence is that current policies don’t work.
The public salon will be held at the Vancouver Playhouse at 7:30. For information visit globalcivic.org.