Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A young marijuana plant thriving in the basement of a grow operation.

Spurred in part by the point-blank shooting of a known gangster in an upscale Vancouver hotel, four former attorneys-general of British Columbia have added their voices to a chorus calling for the legalization of marijuana, saying current laws are resulting in a worsening spiral of violence and crime.

"Gunfire in downtown Vancouver hotels as drug warlords fight over their turf is all the reason that any British Columbian should need to call their local [MLA]to say, 'Could we have a new approach please?' " said Geoff Plant, who served as attorney-general between 2001 and 2005. "Because the current one is not working."

Mr. Plant was referring to last month's shooting of Sandip Duhre, who was killed in a restaurant in the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.

Story continues below advertisement

Police had identified Mr. Duhre – Vancouver's first homicide of the year – as the ringleader of a gang vying for power in the Lower Mainland's illegal drug trade. He and others were the subject of a rare public warning in 2011, when police cautioned that anybody associating with the Duhre or rival Dhak gangs could be in danger.

Since that January incident, there have been others, including a fatal Surrey shooting that police described as a "settling of gang beefs."

For Mr. Plant and the three other former AGs – Colin Gabelmann, Ujjal Dosanjh and Graeme Bowbrick – pushing for legalization, there's a direct line between such violence and Canada's drug laws.

"The case demonstrating the failure and harms of marijuana prohibition is airtight," the AGs wrote in a Feb. 15 letter to B.C. Premier Christy Clark and New Democratic Party Leader Adrian Dix.

"The evidence? Massive profits for organized crime, widespread gang violence, easy access to illegal cannabis for our youth, reduced community safety and significant – and escalating – costs to taxpayers."

The attorneys-general – three who served as NDP MLAs, and Mr. Plant, who served in a Liberal cabinet – are weighing in as part of Stop the Violence, a coalition pushing for cannabis to be regulated under a public-health framework. Its backers include four former Vancouver mayors, current Mayor Gregor Robertson and doctors involved with harm reduction programs such as Insite, Vancouver's supervised injection site.

As the coalition ramps up its calls for legalization, the federal government is backing Bill C-10, tough-on-crime legislation that includes harsher sentences for drug offences.

Story continues below advertisement

"It's an unfortunate coincidence of timing that the Stop the Violence campaign is getting legs at the same moment in time that the Government of Canada appears to be just absolutely hell-bent for leather to take Canada seven or eight steps backward in criminal justice policy," Mr. Plant said.

"So no doubt the hill we are trying to climb here is pretty steep – but that should not stop us from trying to build this conversation to the point that government recognizes that at least in respect of this aspect of their criminal justice policy, they need to rethink their approach."

Ms. Clark said she would leave the marijuana issue to Ottawa.

"It's in their sole sphere of responsibility," Ms. Clark told reporters in Victoria. "So as a premier, I respect that former attorneys-general have taken a stand – people outside politics – but as a premier, I'm going to leave this to the federal government."



With a report from Justine Hunter in Victoria

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies