Pros and cons of legalizing marijuana discussed

A public forum on the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana will be held at Douglas College on Friday to help people form educated opinions about the controversial issue.

The Joint Family Court and Youth Justice and the Communities Embrace Restorative Action (CERA) Society have invited five speakers to share their views at the Feb. 22 forum and the executive director for CERA hopes people will hear them out with open minds.

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"The intent of the forum is not to support any viewpoint - neither CERA nor the justice committee supports any viewpoint. [This is] where the subject can be discussed thoroughly. This will hopefully allow citizens to access considerable information from experts and then they would be able to form their own opinion," Gurinder Mann said.

The legalization of marijuana has been a hot topic in recent months. In B.C., four former attorneys general joined a coalition of health and justice experts calling for the legalization of marijuana. And across the border, Washington and Colorado became the first U.S. states to pass laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

Nationally, the federal government is reforming its medical marijuana legislation at the same time cities continue to deal with legal grow ops for medical pot. A grow op in Port Coquitlam was recently shut down for having more pot plants than was allowed by its licence.

Mann said the justice groups wanted to raise the debate locally.

PANEL EXPERTS

The forum speakers include:

Randie Long, a former federal prosecutor and a spokesperson for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition;

Dan Reist, assistant director of the Centre for Addictions Research of BC at the University of Victoria;

Geri Bemister, criminology instructor at North Island College;

and Robb McGirr, a certified addictions counsellor and retired Port Moody Police officer.

The moderator will be Douglas College professor Colin Campbell. The forum Marijuana: Is it Time for a New Approach? will take place Friday, Feb. 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in lecture theatre A1470 at the Douglas Lam campus, 1250 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam. There is no charge to attend. For more information, email tricities.jfcyj@gmail.com.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

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