B.C.'s Top Commodity: Marijuana

Discussion in 'Marijuana News from The USA' started by Superjoint, Jul 8, 2001.

  1. By Chad Skelton, Vancouver Sun
    Source: Vancouver Sun

    New police statistics suggest marijuana has become one of B.C.'s largest industries -- even bigger than logging -- with annual production valued at $6 billion.
    If the new estimate, produced by the Organized Crime Agency, is correct, that would mean marijuana has become the most valuable commodity produced in the province -- eclipsing annual sales for construction ($5.7 billion), logging and forest products ($5.6 billion), mining ($3.7 billion), manufacturing ($3.4 billion) and agriculture ($2.1 billion).

    Those estimates of legal industries, produced by BC Stats, do not take into account the "spin off" benefits industries like forestry have in wages and support industries.

    But the OCA's estimate of B.C.'s marijuana trade is also a measure only of the "wholesale value" of the marijuana produced in the province each year, OCA spokeswoman Detective Anne Drennan said.

    The marijuana trade also has economic spin-offs in, for example, the purchase of hydroponic equipment and the employment of gardeners.

    OCA's new report estimates that in the Lower Mainland alone, the size of the marijuana trade has doubled over the past two years -- from $2.2 billion to $4.2 billion.

    The agency also believes there are anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 growing operations in the Lower Mainland now, up from its previous estimate of 7,000 to 8,000 two years ago.

    Drennan said the huge increase is due in part to improved intelligence-gathering by police. But she said the agency believes there has also been a significant jump in the amount of marijuana produced in the province over the past two years.

    The report, completed last week, was developed by a team of senior drug officers across the province known as Project Emerald.

    Drennan said the OCA believes 85 per cent of the marijuana production trade is controlled by outlaw motorcycle gangs and Vietnamese organized crime.

    Earlier this month, a national poll by Leger Marketing found 52.4 per cent of B.C. residents support the legalization of marijuana, compared to 46.8 per cent nationwide. Only Quebecers were more in favour of legalization, at 52.7 per cent.

    But while police have cracked down recently on marijuana production, many forces still take a lenient attitude towards marijuana use.

    Statistics show only 17.2 per cent of all reported incidents of marijuana possession in B.C. lead to a charge, compared to a high of 70.8 per cent in Ontario.

    Even in Quebec, the province with the second-lowest rate of possession charges after B.C., 55.2 per cent of reported incidents end up in court.

    Most cases of marijuana possession in B.C. are handled outside the court system, usually through "no-case seizures" in which police seize and destroy the marijuana they find and write up a report, but do not lay charges.

    Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
    Author: Chad Skelton, Vancouver Sun
    Published: Saturday 7 July 2001
    Copyright: The Vancouver Sun 2001
    Contact: sunletters@pacpress.southam.ca
    Website: http://www.vancouversun.com/
     

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