Legalizing pot sends wrong message to young people, former cop says

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver's News. Vancouver's Talk

A former member of the Vancouver police gang unit says legalized recreational pot in Washington State will have zero impact on organized crime.

Constable Doug Spencer says people will still seek out non-licensed marijuana, which remains illegal.

“They’re not paying taxes, not to mention the weed when they grow it legally, it’s going to have to be safeguarded because gangs will go and rip it off and rob it, there is no way they can compete with the gang’s black market on the lower class of weed.”

Spencer is also concerned legalization sends a bad message to young people, with underage youth more likely to try the drug because it’s become main stream.

Legal recreational marijuana became available for purchase for the first time in Washington State this week.

The owner of Bellingham’s first recreational pot shop says he isn’t concerned about getting robbed.

Thomas Beckley with Top Shelf Cannabis says he’s taken extra security precautions.

“We have facial recognition cameras, we have product locked up every night which has seven padlocks on it, and we have glass breaks and motion sensors.”

Beckley says it was a hectic first day of making history, with more than 2-thousand customers passing through the doors eager to get their hands on the first legal pot for recreational use sold in Washington State.


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  1. I disagree with Constable Spencer that legalized recreation pot will have no or little effect on organized crime. This is like saying abolishing prohibition in the had no effect on illegal use of alcohol in the United States; eventually the lawful use will be regulated sufficiently to discourage unlawful enterprises. Organized crime is more concerned with hard drugs; if money now used to enforce pot offences is directed to enforcement of hard drug use and distribution then it follows logically that there will be an indirect affect.

    • I don’t know your experience with what organized crime is interested in but I do know that the marihuana market is very lucrative for them.

      Logically speaking, what marihuana addict would spend their money on a regulated and taxed product when they it will be accessible the same way they have already gotten it with no limitations on THC levels and added tax?

      Also, prohibition on alcohol and marihuana should not be compared. Marihuana is much easier to produce than alcoholic beverages. As well the quality of alcoholic beverages is much better tasting than than that of a backyard still. The product produced by whatever marihuana company will not be any better than what the current illegal marihuana grow operations produce.

      • Micah, yes mj is lucrative, but once legalized will lose profitability. Hence Constable Spencer’s comment that it will have little effect is a questionable conclusion. .

        • In response Yes weed is lucrative but even if you take away that profit they will merely get into other crimes I.E. Child Porn and prostitution.Further their already huge market in harder more addictive drugs drugs. Remember these gangs and organized crime group will never work 9-5 jobs they are lazy they will continue to profit at our expense

      • You’re wrong on so many levels. First of all, alcohol is simple to produce. A child could make it in three days with their juice and some turbo yeast. The quality depends on your skill. Second, a “marihuana” addict (who spells it that way? you must work for the govt.) is actually likely to shop at a convenient location instead of meeting a dealer in a alley or park. How many people do you know buy cigarettes off of street dealers? Third of all, if you’ve payed attention, the price of weed plummeted when all the medical grows were in full swing, and this fabled desirable low quality pot is worthless in that market. As for the ripper element, 7-11 gets knocked over because it has MONEY, that’s what criminals want, so they can feed their marihuana addictions… lol.

    • Reality is Lor . . . Organized Crime does a lot more things than just sell MJ . . . they are into Hard Drugs (the next logical step for many), prostitution and other illegal endeavours. So the idea that “Organized Crime” will dissapear just because the govt now sells Pot . . . is just another far-left fantasy.
      Const. Spencer is absolutely correct . . . only the shallow thinkers of the left would actually believe the nonsense spouted by the likes of Trudeau Jr . . . who own mother contradicts what he says . . . and moms are always right ! ! !

        • If you are a “shallow thinker of the left” then the shoe fits I guess.

          The only enforcement today is for those with large quantities and dealing, as specified in the law. No one is being charged or jailed for having a few joints . . . effectively de-criminalizing personal possession. Just don’t try to cross the US border with the stuff in your car, the dogs are good.

          Anyone who thinks the likes of Justin is a “player” on the political scene today . . . is playing in a parallel universe.

          • Why is everyining a “left” and “right” issue with you? Get off your self proclaimed high conservative politics, there are no absolute correct answers – even you should get that!

          • Everywhere you look in the world today Lor . . . . “Leftist and Socialist” governments are in desperate shape and failing miserably.
            In Canada . . . leftist provinces like Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba are ALL basket cases, existing on Federal Equalization payments extracted out of the FOUR productive provinces, Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland.
            It is the same around the planet . . . Right-of-Center governments have their countries in reasonably good shape, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Germany . . . and of course Canada at the top of the G7.
            Maybe we should call it “right” and “WRONG” Lor, because that is the reality.

          • Dale: “Right-of-Center” governments such as Norway, Germany, and other European countries offer far more than our “left leaning” ideals. In fact, their governments pay for post secondary education and placement into trades programs. They also energy rich in the case of Norway and actually SAVE the surplus. Any of these governments would be considered extreme socialists to the right in America. Also it should be noted that within these right leaning countries, “only 20% of Norwegians say that religion occupies an important place in their life “. Unlike our example of conservatism in the USA which basically is a front for scam artists and snake handlers.

    • What money to enforce pot offences ? Cannabis Day and the operation of illegal dispensaries in Vancouver are not being shut down by police – and the stats show that in 2011 only three people did any time at all for marijuana possession – not one of them did more than 24 hours jail time. The market in this country is underage users – with the adult population at 9% whereas youth are much much more – grade twelve rates are 30-53% depending on the region. This market will remain an illegal one and it will be served by crime as will the rest of the marijuana users who want “harder” stuff and cheaper – not the 38% tax grab Colorado is charging – or they will continue to misuse the medical marijuana market. NO matter which way you look at this we loose with legalization, more kids using, more mental illness, more anxiety more depression, less productivity, more drugged drivers, more kids dropping out of school, more family problems, more smoking of tobacco ( marijuana being a gateway to the biggest killer of Canadians. More cost to enforcement of second hand smoking laws, more risks to baby during pregnancy, more harm all the way round and this is not a page in history – this is a page in the marijuana epidemic that we will come to regret all 91% of the Canadians who have been conned by the marijuana elite – this is not about freedom, it is about a small elite group who want to make money off pot. It is that simple.

  2. Of course it would have some impact on organized crime- if nothing else they may redouble their efforts in another aspect of their business- heroin, body parts, human trafficking.

    And what is the reason for people “seeking out non-licensed marijuana” ? Does he mean – some people will grow a few plants or – it the quality of the legal sales particularly bad?

    Time will tell if Constable Spencer is correct in his predictions about pot. At best I predict it will save a ton of money on processing minor possession offenses.

    • Nobody ever gets charged for simple possession of marihuana. No money is spent processing minor possession offences. The only time somebody is charged with possession of a controlled substance when that substance is marihuana is when they are breaching some sort of court condition prohibiting their possession of a controlled substance.

  3. When they ended Alcohol Prohibition in the 1930′s they did not end crime. Criminals just moved into other activities to make money. The proponents of pot are lying when they say crime will go down.

  4. wow is this cop wrong ……..look at colarado ….crime way way way down ….taxes through the roof from pot………over 20 million in tax so far this year …..and who knows how much saved from crime being so down

    • Crime is way down in Colorado because the courts overturned Gov Hickenlooper’s anti gun laws . . . another insane Democrat who will likely loose the race for another term this fall.
      Actually Fred . . . there have already been several deaths and medical situations in Colorado due to excessive amounts of MJ in homemade food stuffs.
      What will be interesting is the long-term medical studies . . . have never believed inhaling smoke containing toxic substances into the lungs was a healthy endeavour.

        • Do a little research Steve . . . one guy under the influence fell of a balcony . . . many other problems and the party has just started !

          Denver coroner: Man fell to death after eating marijuana cookies
          By John Ingold The Denver Post
          A college student visiting Denver jumped to his death from a hotel balcony after eating marijuana-infused cookies, according to a coroner’s report that marks the first time authorities have publicly linked a death to marijuana since legal sales of recreational cannabis began in Colorado.

          Study: Fatal Car Crashes Involving Marijuana Have Tripled
          SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) – According to a recent study, fatal car crashes involving pot use have tripled in the U.S.
          “Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia, and co-author of the study told HealthDay News.

          Explosions in Colorado linked to legalized marijuana
          More than a dozen other explosions in the Denver area alone this year have been linked to people cooking hash oil, CBS reported. Since the commercial sale of marijuana was legalized in the state in January, Colorado’s only certified adult burn center has treated 10 people with serious injuries they suffered making the oil, compared to 11 in 2013 and one in 2012, according to the Associated Press — and no one is sure what to do:

          Where was our Canadian Media? Where they always are . . .

          • sounds like the fall was more concerning to his health. The driving stats are flawed as they don’t tell you other factors in the crashes. Butane explosions are concerning, but only because imbeciles do it in their homes. Seems like your choices are examples of human stupidity and not of the deadly effects of marijuana.

  5. wow! Is this guy for real? legalization sends a bad message to young people, with underage youth more likely to try the drug because it’s become mainstream. Tell me what kid does not know about pot . I always try and figure out who is behind the multi-billion pot trade in BC. The people who do not want this legalized and Taxed have a vested interest in keeping the status quo.illegal.

  6. The legalize pot lobby likes to tell us that legalizing pot will harm drug gangs. After all, if pot is legal then gangs cannot profit from it. This is a flawed argument.

    -unlike the repeal of alcohol prohibition, the distribution of pot is one of many drugs distributed by drug gangs. In order to kill off their market, all illegal drugs would have to be legalized. Not even the pot lobby supports this, for now anyway. Even with pot legalized, gangs have a vested interest in retaining some market share.

    -it is argued that legalized pot can be taxed and government will see billions in new revenue. This argument misses the point that taxes are a cost that must be paid by someone. So, going from a tax free, illegal market to a legal one means that the price of pot to the consumer must reflect tax, which the gangs are not concerned about. There will still be an illicit pot market.

    -the message this sends to kids is that it is ok for everyone to get stoned. We already have one very harmful drug in common use-alcohol-and I don’t follow how lives are made better by popularizing and legalizing another one. How ironic that this happens when we have food fascists running around complaining about certain foods.

    As a product of the 1960′s “anything goes” movement, I have seen no good at all come from the expansion and popularization of “recreational drugs”. Death, mental illness, misery, health problems, crime-you name it. We are going down the wrong road here but I am in my 60′s and will not have to deal with the increased misery to come. All I can do is influence my grandchildren to stay away from this stupidity.

  7. Dispensaries don’t sell to your kids nor do they sell coke or meth, but your kids high school dealer might. Education and parenting is key, and there’s no substitute. The real subject regarding kids should be alcohol, which i’m sure any RCMP officer could tell you. Alcohol is the real “gateway” drug responsible for countless bad decisions and deaths. Just a fact, marijuana has never killed a single person on earth. Anyone who says otherwise is misinformed or didn’t do the research.

    • More sillyness from Steve . . .

      Search . . . “Colorado MMJ deaths, injuries problems”

      Legalized marijuana: Colorado kids are paying the price
      Past 30-day use of marijuana by teens 12 to 17 is highest in medical-marijuana states. In Denver between 2004 and 2010, past 30-day users of marijuana ages 12 and up increased 4.3 percent, while the increase for the nation was 0.05 percent.
      In Colorado’s schools, drug-related expulsions spiked 45 percent between 2008 and 2012. In a single academic year, a 10-year low in drug-related suspensions and expulsions flipped to a 10-year high. While the Colorado Department of Education includes all drugs in its data, officials report that most drug-related suspensions since the 2008-09 academic year are related to marijuana.

      • A college student visiting from Wyoming jumped to his death from a Denver hotel balcony in March after consuming six times the recommended dose of a pot-infused cookie. The following month, a Denver man is believed to have shot and killed his wife after eating pot-laced candy, although police concede that he may have had other drugs in his system, too.
        Edibles aren’t the only problem. Colorado authorities are also dealing with a rash of fiery house explosions caused by pot enthusiasts making THC-rich hash oil in their homes through a dangerous process that involves heavy amounts of butane, a highly flammable gas that can linger and ignite. Earlier this week in a suburb of Colorado Springs, firefighters responded to one such explosion at an apartment and found two adults and a 3-year-old child trapped inside. No one was injured, although the adults now face reckless endangerment charges in addition to child abuse and arson. It was a similar scene late last month in Jefferson County, where hash oil–making is believed to have caused a blast that destroyed a townhouse. All told, firefighters have responded to more than 30 such explosions this year already, roughly three times the number from all of last year, according to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area agency.

        • If you’re really concerned with kids, how about the hundreds of thousands of prescription mild altering drugs that are legal? The fact is marijuana never killed a single person and you still have yet to prove any different. You’re really reaching far and comparing about a hundred thousand people to the lowest common denominator. If you followed the same mentality with all drugs, booze would need to be outlawed. Where’s the outcry for banning whiskey and cigarettes? Compare your “marijuana deaths” to that of impaired driving fatalities or simple overdoses and you’ll see some real results.

          • Well here’s some real stats:

            From CDC (2010):
            Percent of adults 18 years of age and over who were current regular drinkers (at least 12 drinks in the past year): 51.3%

            Number of alcoholic liver disease deaths: 15,990
            Number of alcohol-induced deaths, excluding accidents and homicides: 25,692

            From DEA and NIDA (regarding the LD50 of Marijuana): “A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.” which is worth somewhere in the 3 million range… but paranoia can be induced with a single toke.

            Fact is, marijuana isn’t for everyone, just like alcohol isn’t for everyone. Overall it’s relatively harmless in it’s recreational and medical uses and data supports that.

  8. some facts from me Cst Spencer
    80% of kids in addiction treatment centers in BC are there for weed.

    the taxes collected for booze and cigarettes only covers 8% of the health care costs so the claim from politicians that there is huge profits if we tax weed is wrong and the fact we are collecting taxes that pay for treatment is the wrong attitude WHY LET PEOPLE GET ADDICTED IN THE FIRST PLACE. Go to main and hastings and ask the experts in addiction THE ADDICTS almost all started drinking booze and smoking weed.

    Do I think weed /pot is the worst drug certainly not I arrest people on hard drugs and most often people drunk on booze (Which is legal)

    Drug dealers/gangs profit off other peoples misery of addiction now politicians want to collect taxes and do the same they are supposed to be leaders.

    I have opinions based on 36 years of police work and watching youth suffer for their bad choices to the worst case of attending the youths funeral becasue of drugs and/or gangs.

    I enjoy reading other peoples opinions hearing everyones views and thoughts hopefully results in the best decision.

    If weed/pot is legalized I would wish the legal age be 25 years old because that is when the human brain stops developing.Let kids fully develop so they can make the right choice I am sick of wasted potential having attended well over 100 funerals of young people who made bad choices give them a fair chance.

    If an adult wants to smoke weed/pot then thats their choice but let them be an adult first.

    BTW I can’t remember the last time I charged someone for simple possession it has been that way for 10 years at least.

    • How many of those kids in addictions treatment went there voluntarily is questionable. Likely concerned parents forced them there without an option. I’d like to know how many adults past the age of 25 are admitted to rehab over marijuana. Probably a lot less.

  9. Dale i spent 5 years with the Vancouver Crises Center , Suasides happen , most can be prevented , depreshion is a facter , pot can lift depreshion , but if you want to jump than there is nothing stopping you from doing so . Stop blameing pot when mentle illnes is to blame .