I love that they picked this day to make an announcement.
For those who don't get the reference - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNX2X9nXyIo
For one thing, decriminalization is easy to do. Simply revoke the current criminal laws. The bill would be passed quite quickly. Which would then buy time to figure out a bill for legalization.
Why is this important? Despite popular belief, simple possession laws ARE upheld in Canada, but the people charged are disproportionately minorities and poor/homeless people. IIRC, there were 40 000+ criminal charges for simple possession last year in Canada. That means thousands of citizens who are now burdened with a criminal record, making job searches difficult and border crossings into the US.
So while laws for legalizing pot are getting figured out in Parliament, more people keep getting locked up for simple possession.
>For one thing, decriminalization is easy to do.
I find decriminalisation to be a pretty egoistic way around the problem. Sure, it makes lives better for people at home, but it completely ignores the massive amount of suffering countries (including Canada) has brought on supply and transit countries.
It makes sense to decriminalize users/addicts because they are the victims whom drug legislation is supposed to protect in the first place.
But to me it makes no sense to allow anyone to profit from a substance that causes this much harm.
It's possible to use heroin daily for the remainder of your life and have a better health outcome than a cigarette smoker.
The drug war makes heroin use more dangerous. Now you have dirty needles, cut drugs, highly inconsistent doses, lack of free treatment/therapy, fear of police and the legal system that leads to reluctance to seek medical attention, etc. And of course black market violence still exists here and abroad.
"Like most opioids, unadulterated heroin does not cause many long-term complications other than dependence and constipation."
The program seems to have been a success, destroying the market for illegal heroin, and also reducing demand because it gives the drug a perception of being for losers.
>An estimated 13.5 million people in the world take opioids (opium-like substances), including 9.2 million who use heroin.
That's an insignificant number compared to the global population and all the harm the BS cat/mouse game with mafia and police has caused.
Back then lives were being ruined as well. And the availability and affordability of dangerous drugs has only increased since then.
People just didn't make such a "fuss" of addiction, and especially in the case of poorer people, nobody really cared.
So why should we make a fuss out of it today?
>and especially in the case of poorer people, nobody really cared.
Whereas now they do?
It's quite likely that those are compound charges, meaning possession is not the only charge, i.e. they are arrested for something else, then found to be in possession.
So they are charged disproportionately because they commit crimes disproportionately, and some of them happen to have a bag in their pocket while doing so.
Aboriginal and black Canadians are grossly overrepresented in Canada’s correctional institutions
This paper is itself biased against Ockham's Razor, they hit on some truth here,
We cannot discount, however, the probability that increased rates of offending among certain racialized groups contributes to their overrepresentation in correctional statistics. but then spend the whole paper trying to hand wave it away.
One must also consider that it isn't the density per se, but the populations. For example, you could compare two equally dense areas but made up of different population groups. You would find a difference.
It is well known that, in the United States, drug usage between all races tends to trend roughly the same. However, the arrest rate for blacks is much, much higher. See these charts for marijuana.
One possible explanation, of course, is indeed that blacks are more likely to be arrested while committing another serious crime. Hence the gap.
An alternate explanation reverses the argument: blacks may be more prone to commit serious crimes because they are more likely to be arrested for trivial crimes like marijuana usage. Prison does have social consequences after all (eg, people are less willing to hire someone with an arrest record; prison can establish contacts with underground economies that are more likely to utilize violence to settle disputes; prison can tear apart families; etc. -- http://www.economist.com/node/708550 ) and since America is not keen on reintegrating criminals into society (a very high rate of recidivism compared to most countries -- http://www.salve.edu/sites/default/files/filesfield/document... and http://www.businessinsider.com/why-norways-prison-system-is-... ), it is very possible that early arrests for modest crimes lead to later arrests for worse crimes later.
That article is just a simple and clear telling of sourced facts that came up when I was searching for some facts.
> As a means to assess these possibilities, I estimate separate regression equations for the black and white block groups in Atlanta. [...] Consistent with previous research, percent black retains a strong, significant effect on violent crime net of the effects of other controls. [...] Although this finding appears to provide partial support for the racial invariance assumption, the fact remains that for a large proportion of the black neighborhoods, the effect of disadvantage on violence is weaker than is the effect evident among all of the white neighborhoods in the analysis
More white people than black live in poverty, yet blacks commit crime at far higher rates. For statistics see FBI and DOJ crime data:
This topic could use more good science and research.
1 in 10 whites live in poverty compared to 1 in 4 blacks so it's not true that more whites live in poverty (unless you're talking about absolute numbers, which doesn't tell us anything meaningful in a comparison to the black crime rate).
> Discrimination appears to be indirect, stemming from the amplification of initial disadvantages over time, along with the social construction of "moral panics" and associated political responses. The "drug war" of the 1980s and 1990s exacerbated the disproportionate representation of blacks in state and federal prisons
> Blacks, and to a lesser extent Hispanics, suffer much higher rates of robbery and homicide victimization than do whites. Homicide is the leading cause of death among young black males and females. These differences result in part from social forces that ecologically concentrate race with poverty and other social dislocations.
I agree that the topic could use more good science and research.
Also, maybe you missed the black on white numbers which are off the charts compared to the inverse.
90% of black murder victims are killed by black perpetrators, 84% of white murder victims are killed by white perpetrators, so I'm not sure why you suggested that poor white people don't kill each other. My point is that the higher black on black homicide rate is what we'd expect to see for a population that is disproportionately concentrated into densely populated low income regions, which will push up their representation in overall homicide stats.
> Also, maybe you missed the black on white numbers which are off the charts compared to the inverse
What exactly does off the charts mean?
13.6% of white murders are committed by black people, 7.6% of black murders are committed by white people, so yes, blacks murder whites at a higher rate, that is clear, but what is your point?
I'm a supporter of legalization, but I think half-measures can lead to avoidable, unforeseen negative consequences.
In the article he specifically said he wants to keep criminals from profiting from sales.
You have to be genuinely, deeply sick in Australia to be allowed to puff a joint. It's like living in the 1950's. So strange that Australia follows the world so quickly towards becoming more conservative and is so incredibly slow to become less conservative, even when our cultural leader, the U.S.A. is headed that way.
Then again, with politicians like these: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/07/sweden-justice-...
I'm not huge in to this 'God' person, so replace 'God' with whatever is in fashion this week, the point stands.
It's wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. Harm reduction, we do it with alcohol. That's the solution. Make it a good drug, like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. By 'good' I mean 'taxed'.
Substance abuse should not be illegal. Substance abuse is not a crime. Addiction is a mental health issue and addicts need to be treated as mentally unwell, not as criminals.
Ultimately some substances should be controlled (rather than simply banned) but it's important not to criminalize their (ab)use.
The damage caused per life affected is so unbelievably massive. Alcohol affects millions of lives to some small degree. Heroin affects a small number of lives to an unimaginable degree.
The WHO has a statistic on DALYs lost to etoh vs opiates and no doubt etoh causes a lot of early death and disability. However it is also the only restricted substance on the list that has a positive contribution to DALYs as well (through the beneficial effects of alcohol).
Apologies for not bringing up the source as I am on mobile and I last saw this slide in Med school
Speaking from personal experience it is conceivable that some people could responsibly use opium (and its derivatives) recreationally.
I mean, a person can go to a liquor store and buy more than enough alcohol to kill themselves and their football team, but we allow that because we recognise most people consume in moderation / act responsibly.
Yes I have read the rolling stone or NYT articles describing people who hold down regular jobs and hit heroin once a day, and have done that for years. But what a fucked up life. You think they're doing that for fun?
Read my above comment regarding the methadone program. Look into the root of the problem. Opiates cannot be responsibly managed by the masses (OK, there's a reasonable argument to be made that either can alcohol).
I personally know 2 people who got sucked down the drain with opiates, and i am a white upper middle class Australian - these two guys were as well; one was a medical school buddy who has recently blown his license because of it despite being one of the most intelligent guys in my grade, the other was a guy I went to school with, the same thing, a pure genius, and he is dead.
Now every drug you take has a certain chance of causing addiction. Some people taste alcohol once and loose control. Some people get addicted to smoking. and some people will try heroin once and decide it's not for them, and get on with their lives. But do you know who are the ones who won't be able to stop? And when the consequences of getting addicted are literally flushing your entire life down the toilet, how can we as a society condone a section of ourselves to play this lottery?
Would the world not be a better place if recreational crystal methamphetamine users had the option of legal recreational opiates (of known strength) instead?
The fact of opiate abuse and addiction is that people almost never kick it.
The rate of methadone program increase in Australia is 5% a year at present. But heroin usage plateaued years ago.
Some small percentage of this increase is crossover from prescription opiates to methadone.
The increase comes entirely from new addicts who completely destroy their lives getting to the point where they decide to get in the program, and then never get off it.
You show me more than 5 examples of people who have successfully recovered from methadone and rebuilt successful lives in the whole of Sydney and I will eat my hat
But for the other two? If you're smoking pot illegally and decide to be a jerk to the police... I'm not entirely sure I'd be sympathetic. They don't have to arrest you, but you don't have to be mean to them.
What I expect the main features to be:
- Certified and regulated producers, though not numerically limited
- no problems growing your own.
- retail distribution depends on province. More liberal in BC, government-run in Ontario.
- separate certifications for places "serving" (ie, pot cafes). Can't take it home with you.
It doesn't matter how grow-at-home laws will be written. There will always be those people who will exceed the "personal plants limit" to grow and sell to friends / the street. Especially if legally obtainable strains wind up being very limited, or if the tax is too expensive.
The whole system including strain restrictions and pricing (+ taxation) is going to be interesting to watch unfold. If officials think that your average daily consumers - not the new people who will toke once legal, but those who already consume daily - are going to tolerate an increase of any amount for the product... enjoy the black market that will continue to proliferate.
I do love the lackluster "legalization will keep weed out of kids' hands!" How exactly does that way of thinking even begin to work? ;)
Edit; there was a house worth 1.5 million for sale nearby, a beautiful custom home on a big lot, for sale for 400,000 because it had a grow op which is the same as a meth lab in the eyes of the law. No bank will lend on the property, the occupancy permit for the house is revoked, and the soil is considered contaminated until proven otherwise. All for a bunch of plants! Many laws and regulations will have to catch up for people to be able to legally grow at home with no repercussions.
i use to pickup on the street but got annoyed with having to arrange a meetup with a dealer/supplier, the dispensary is much more convenient.
dont have to wait on anyone, the businesses are open at set times with a large variety.
definately paying more for the convenience and consistency.
i use to pay 160-200$ CAD an ounce on the street (5$-7$/gram).
at the dispensary i rarely pickup below $10/gram strains.
more recently i have been getting $12-13/gram strains, but thats where i draw the limit.
there are $15+/gram strains popping up at dispensaries that i dont think are worth it.
if you are a heavy consumer... it will hit you hard in the pocket book making the transition.
i was spending on average $1000+ a month (#1 customer at 4000+ member dispensary) till i made some life decisions.
i partake, but maybe <$100/month i spend now (i prefer it more than alcohol).
as per the supply chain, most are illegal drug suppliers legitimatizing their business into legal/license distributors (using illegal funds to build multi-million dollar govt approved factories for growing and selling to licensed shops and USA).
as per the in-home growing or GrowOp houses... cant believe some people still make a mess with wiring, smell, mold etc.. this was common 10+ years ago... but nowadays its hard to have problems like this.
LED lights + smell proof rooms + good ventillation + air filters to mask smell, its very hard to get caught... and you dont have to do any damage (ran high pressure aeroponics setup that vented out of top of house, was in a enclosed smellproof 8x10 closet space).
you can run a very good "clean" setup for a few hundred dollars.
anyways, anything is good in moderation... overdoing it can lead to risks. from the amount i use to smoke compared to now, i feel i have less anxiety when not high in stressfull situations and able to cope better (giving me less reasons to smoke up)
I'm sure most people will pay more for better quality, same way I buy wine from LCBO instead of fermenting it myself in plastic barrels (which I could totally do for 1/10 the price).
However, over the past year or so I've found it more convenient to visit a store than my "guy". There's a store within walking distance to my home, predictable hours, regular sales and loyalty programs.
All in all, I'm happy to pay more for those things. Many feel the same.
Yes, the black market will still exist- but I think you'll see more local growers fueling the market than south of the border cartels.
Stills are also very dangerous which is a good enough reason to keep them out of homes. Your pot plant isn't going to explode as a high pressure fireball.
So I'm curious what effect this will have on prices. Because if pricing is anything like alcohol in Ontario then there will still be a lively black market and, if legalized, a personal-growing boom.
In Ontario alcohol can only be bought at two government run retail stores called LCBO and "The Beer Store" at much higher prices than the US and even Montreal. Unlike in some other provinces you can't walk into a grocery or corner store, you have to go to the predefined locations of the alcohol stores, which typically close at 9pm, making it harder to get alcohol. Especially if you don't drive.
I hope they don't make the same mistake with weed, because the market dynamics are different.
Quality would definitely be the main difference. Although I have friends that have made decent wine and beer themselves.
That plus the extend time weed has been on the black market made the information on how to grow it widely available to average consumers. No trade secrets there really.
my friend, i fear you have overlooked modern homebrewing; world-class beer is being made in peoples' kitchens / basements / garages all over the place. :)
The housing association/board (or whatever the proper english term is) might have something to say though.
This example could have been chosen better. While you're correct that your dislike of the smell isn't, in the absence of other facts, a great reason for criminalizing your neighbors smearing shit on their walls, that is in fact illegal, it is illegal for very good reasons, and you dislike the smell for the same reasons doing it is illegal. In that case, the smell is actually telling you something important.
I think we have more of a "this has to be allowed" exception for cooking food than we have a general policy of "we won't take smells into account when deciding what's allowed".
I meant that regulations could be enacted for those cultivating marijuana in their home, requiring proper ventilation and filtration.
Nobody wants to smell skunk all the time.
> “We will introduce legislation in spring 2017 that ensures we keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals,”
It sounds like they plan on legitimizing the whole thing.
I'll just send My Man an application to the INSEAD MBA programme....
Of course, to prevent this problem, Canada could just hint at slowing down or limiting the 12410000000 barrels of oil it exports to the USA 
(see, two can play that game, and nobody wins)
As for the ability of Canadians to create their own policies of self-government solely on internal politics without regard for geopolitical implications, I'm not going to pout over it. Geopolitics and international relations effect the internal politics of every country, and American concerns are not without merit.
If a Democrat wins the WH, I'd be surprised if that threat were levied, as it would anger much of the Democratic base. However, who knows what the future will hold. Law enforcement agencies certainly hold a great deal of policy sway in the US (as in most countries), and my take is that they're more anti-legalization than the average American voter and politician.
That day happened like 50 years ago and has been that way ever since. As much as Canadians define themselves by being "not Americans", we're very heavily influenced by the US.
Decriminalization is of little use to the chronically uncool.
As in, warm-blooded animals?
Such as politicians? Or basically most people living in Ottawa?
As for politicians... well, my impression is that they prefer crack.
The contrapositive in this case being: "Not being cool means you do not smoke pot", which as you explain seems like a reasonable assertion.
Not that I'm really interested in smoking pot any more. It's a bit too uncool and boring.
(And more seriously, from a reputable and regulated supplier)
> No, the contrapositive.
The first thing you're ever taught about the contrapositive, generally at the same time the name is taught, is that a statement is exactly equivalent to its contrapositive.
For one thing, the law of the excluded middle holds here just as it holds everywhere else. You've got two options:
- Smoking pot makes you cool.
- Smoking pot does not make you cool.
Those cover all cases.
But, the point I'm making is that you are incorrect to label "being cool helps you access pot" as "the contrapositive" of "smoking pot makes you cool". The concept of a contrapositive does not apply to "smoking pot makes you cool", because it is not a conditional statement.
If you want to cast the idea you're supporting as a conditional statement, you have "if you're not cool, you don't smoke pot". This actually has a contrapositive, "if you smoke pot, you're cool", and it is the same idea.
I don't believe that innovative misuse of specialized technical terms is actually a good idea. When the word you'd really like to use doesn't mean what you want it to mean, suck it up and use some different words.
I agree with the change in this law, as a non consumer who has tried it in the past, but let's not draw a stupid line between those who partake and those who don't.
But yes, the actual number of cannabis connoisseur tourists is tiny.
Hardly unique and recently greatly outshone by the offerings in states in the US where it's legal.
If someone is willing to spend thousands of dollars to travel to the Netherlands because of marijuana, they are probably pretty into marijuana, and if they are that into it, they are probably using it in their home country anyway, despite it being illegal.
The legal barriers are not hard to work around, and in almost every country it would be easier to get illegal marijuana locally than to arrange travel to the Netherlands.
It's mostly just part of the country's (and Amsterdam's in particular) reputation. Let's put it this way: you can legally obtain cheese and wine in most parts of the world -- even French cheese and wine -- but that doesn't stop people from associating France with cheese and wine (whether when in France they actually consume it or not).
It was so bad that the mayor of Amsterdam noped out of introducing it, together with most mayors in towns that doesn't kiss a border. I believe most, if not all coffee shops in the Randstad area (Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht) are still welcoming any adults into their coffee shops.
How do they get out of this? I've read that this is a big holdup in US federal drug law reform.
I think that meeting it yesterday, today, and tomorrow - hence the timing of this announcement.
Hopefully once Canada and others defy these terrible agreements, poorer countries will realise they have a lot to gain by ignoring them, too.
Treaties are more than just trade, they also signify a strong relationship between nations because the nations who negotiate treaties are signalling that they are willing to cooperate in a constructive fashion with that other nation, and that they want to maintain a peaceful relationship with the other nation.
It is far, far better never to sign up to a treaty that is "bad" (normally a power imbalance) than it is to sign up to one, and then pull out of it.
It's sad to see these made up "crimes" of drug selling and money "laundering", as they do suck up budgets, efforts, and lives in third world countries. One might be cubical enough to think e.g. the US loves this as a way to keep, say, Central America, under control.
There are two choices, break the contract and risk the consequences, or live with the bad treaty.
Legalization on the other hand, which is what the current gov is going for, is legalization. And that requires all those special departments, policies, procedures, laws, etc...
See for example:
The globalnews article talks a bit about how the Liberals tried decriminalizing it in the past and failed. And Justin Trudeau saying why they won't decriminalize before they legalize it. But the focus is on the legalization/regulation of it next year. It is not using those two interchangeably.
'Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired back saying “decriminalization actually gives a legal stream of income to criminal organizations.”'
It's simply poor fact-checking by the Guardian.
Legalization requires a whole framework of laws to be created. You could piggyback off cigarettes of alcohol, but should you? Those are the discussions that will be heard over the next sever months.
I also think that many people way overestimate the importance of international law and treaties. There is no court with any teeth on these things, and nobody gets any brownie points for following treaties. The only enforcement mechanism is what other countries care to do about any violations they perceive, which could be anything from nothing at all for blatant violations to sanctions, trade war, or real war for minor violations or even not going along enthusiastically enough.
Since July 2001, all drugs are legal subject to personal consumption limits.
Decriminalized = "you're not allowed to do this, but we won't treat you like a criminal if you do"
Rather than years in jail and a criminal record, the punishment would be more akin to a speeding ticket - pay a fine, go on your way.
"Decriminalize" means it's still illegal to produce, distribute or buy, but it's not a criminal offence. So you may be fined, etc., but you can't be arrested or go to jail for it.
Just because alcohol prohibition ended first, doesn't mean it deserves special treatment (I live in a state where cannabis is legal).
Not that I've put much research into it, but this seems like the most believable I've seen.
If you don't want it to be banned, you're welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org and give us reason to believe that you'll only post civil, substantive comments in the future.
I've been to Vancouver and it wasn't a very pretty sight.
The amount of homelessness and crime is 10 times more what I've seen anywhere else in North America.
There's an entire section (several blocks) in the Downtown area that's full of homeless people and the streets smell like urine.
Shops even in areas far away from downtown put posters on their windows saying they don't hold cash overnight. i.e. please thieves don't break in at night because you will not find any cash.
At the same time, Marijuana seemed like it was very easy to obtain, and for free too! There plenty of shops that give it away for free "for medical purposes". Some of them even advertise that they have a doctor who will prescribe it for you in case you don't already have a prescription!
I know correlation is not necessarily causation but easy access to Marijuana was the only significant difference between Vancouver and all the other cities I've visited in North America.
But...I don't think marijuana caused that. I think it has a lot more to do with a permissive city than pot. Recreational pot is legal in my city (Tacoma, WA) and we don't have this issue. In fact, we have almost no problems with pot at all. My only complaint about the entire thing is the tacky advertising and storefronts that the pot industry uses to attract clients. The market is oversaturated and shop owners are desperate to survive and are resorting to decorating normally seen at used car lots and Liberty Tax outlets.
The root cause of the situation in the downtown east side is the City of Vancouver's effort to help these poor addicts.
Vancouver has policies and programs to support addicts, while other cities in greater Vancouver don't. The result is a concentration of addicts from all over the place.
For example, there are medical services in place to help addicts such as methadone clinics and a safe injection site.
The methadone clinics are supposed to ensure the dose, which the provincial government pays for and the clinic profits from, is consumed by the patient. Instead it's often sold outside for cash which is then used to purchase heroin or crack.
The huge huddling masses you see on Hastings Street tend to be concentrated around these clinics. The area is perfectly safe, there's no need to fear assault or robbery. It's just stinky, dirty and unpleasant.
The reason I think it's linked to Marijuana is how easy it was to obtain. If these homeless people can get access to it, they probably wouldn't bother working to improve their lives. They can have an "awesome life" in their minds if they get to smoke pot. At least that's my impression of what Marijuana does to people. It makes you feel relaxed and completely care free.
Maybe I'm wrong, and I hope someone can challenge my perspectives, but I think the rest of the world also thinks this way. That's why all countries ban drugs even though they don't ban Alcohol.
> The reason I think it's linked to Marijuana is how easy it was to obtain
Marijuana is easy to obtain just about everywhere on the planet. I knew around 20 drug dealers at one point in the US. I buy weed here in Cambodia from an old grandma. It's easy if you're looking.
> If these homeless people can get access to it, they probably wouldn't bother working to improve their lives. They can have an "awesome life" in their minds if they get to smoke pot.
Do you have some strong evidence that a homeless person's sole desire in life is to easy access to marijuana? Because if not it comes across as a sweeping, irrational judgement against a diverse group of people.
> That's why all countries ban drugs even though they don't ban Alcohol.
Many countries ban marijuana because the US used its leverage to compel those countries to do so.
Woah. Talk about 4/20. I'll have what you are having.
> I've been to Vancouver and it wasn't a very pretty sight.
Well, I've been to US and it wasn't a very pretty sight either. I am of course talking about the atrocities I've seen on a late Friday night in Walton, Nebraska, but clarifying that would just totally ruin the post, wouldn't it?
What you are referring to is an area of Vancouver called Downtown Eastside, which sits to the East from downtown. More specifically - there's a several-block area around the intersection of Main and Hastings streets, which is indeed an impressive cloaca. It's been there for ages and, put bluntly, it serves as the Greater Vancouver junky area.
Outside of this part you'd be hard pressed to see homeless people and the "10x crime anywhere else in NA" statement is just a random collection of words.
The mess extends to the surrounding areas as well, such as China-town.
Also, I've mentioned the signs on shop windows (in areas far away) indicating an unusual crime level. Many streets were, not very clean, to say the least. Which is not hard to understand, given the "broken window" theory.
I'd love to see some counter proposals as to why that's the case in Vancouver.
I heard that Riverview will be reopening, so, hopefully people with mental health issues can get off the streets.
It's a sad state of affairs, but just saying "Because Marijuana" is silly...
If you think crime is 10x worse anywhere in Canada compared to the US, you haven't looked at the US's horrible crime statistics closely enough.
[edit: sorry, this was a dumb comment, I misread North America as "USA"]
I have no idea what you are trying to say.
Actually I would challenge you to point out other cities in Canada that suffer similar amounts of homelessness, poverty, and crime.
We have inequality, availability of social support, property prices, local culture and climate as possible factors just to start, and post fingers availability of marijuana?
The Downtown Eastside (DTES) is the oldest part of Vancouver. It's located next to the port, so it's where the rooming houses have historically been located. It's much the same as Pioneer Square in Seattle, the Tenderloin in SF, or Skid Row in L.A. It's also where Chinatown is located, a historically persecuted community.
It's actually a great neighbourhood. You'd be surprised at how many of the movies and TV series you watch are filmed there.
In Vancouver, due to NIMBYism, almost all of the social housing projects have been pushed into this one neighbourhood. Deinstitutionalization led to the rehousing of the mentally ill population into social housing. You also find marginalized populations such as indigenous people. Naturally, with that concentration, that's where you find the IV drug use, drug dealers, prostitution, etc.
For political reasons, welfare rates haven't budged in a couple of decades, so beyond housing and health care, the people in the social housing projects aren't well cared for. A lot of the residents collect bottles from trash, or beg for extra income. It's not uncommon for an IV drug user to have a $300/day habit. So naturally there's a lot of property crime and there's always been prostitution.
The court system is overwhelmed, and it's not economical to re-house the population in prison, so there's a revolving-door aspect to the police/court system here. Generally speaking, don't expect your bike to not get stolen, and don't leave valuables in your car or your windows will be smashed.
On the flip side, it's a really safe neighbourhood to walk around in, even at night. There's very little violent crime. Most of the shootings you hear about on the news happen in the suburbs.
There are genuine homeless people out there, but most of the "homeless" you see are just local residents who would rather hang out outdoors than spend their day in the dingy "single-room occupancy" bedbug-infested hotels they are forced to live in.
Gentrification is a big deal. In the past 10 years, the DTES has been rapidly been redeveloped with new condo developments, hipster coffee shops and high-tech startup offices. The social housing isn't going to move, so there's an interesting mix and substantial tension. A lot of the "blighted" buildings owned by slumlords that are sitting there in an unmaintained state are just being held until they can redeveloped into major condo projects. The non-subsidized low quality housing is disappearing rapidly, which is causing pressure on homelessness.
There's a lot of innovative work being done to change the situation. Places like the Crosstown Clinic are doing real internationally-recognized research and making real progress in figuring out how to treat the underlying causes of drug addiction. There are "harm reduction" programs in Vancouver that don't exist anywhere else. The government has stepped in and purchased a lot of vulnerable SRO housing stock and converted it to public housing to prevent a major crisis.
Vancouver is a hippie culture. If you scratch the surface, you'll soon learn about how draft dodgers from the '60s and '70s worked their way into the fabric and today's civic leadership.
As far as Marijuana goes, it's effectively legal via "prescription", and recently there has been a massive proliferation of "dispensaries". That said, it's still technically illegal here. Just over the border, in Washington State, it's now fully legal, and you see billboard ads for it everywhere. The Canadian federal government has just announced that they are going to legalize it for all of Canada.
There's a one block stretch on Hastings Street where some of the earliest marijuana shops are located. But generally speaking, the social ills of the DTES are associated with addictive IV drug use (heroin) and crack cocaine and not with social drugs like marijuana.
Most people are blind to the fact that there are downtrodden people everywhere in North America - they just aren't in the most visible of places. In the DTES, that population is concentrated in a small area where they just happen to be more visible than the same population in your home town.
As for the parent comment: on a minor note, no one who lives in Vancouver thinks the issue is weed by any stretch. Jim's assessment, above, is entirely accurate. My personal hunch is that legalized weed would have absolutely no impact on that part of Vancouver at all.
> But generally speaking, the social ills of the DTES are associated with addictive IV drug use (heroin) and crack cocaine and not with social drugs like marijuana.
So it's still related to drugs one way or another.
Would you say "safe" drugs like Marijuana would improve the situation?
My suspicion: no, no change. For all intents and purposes weed is legal in Vancouver. You have to be pretty out of touch not to be able to get it. But weed is cheap, and non-addictive (physiologically anyhow, I suspect the jury may still be out on psychologically; IANAP). I would be surprised to find that anyone is committing re-occurring petty crime to buy weed only.