Cannabis in British Columbia
Cannabis in British Columbia (BC) relates to a number of legislative, legal, and cultural events surrounding use and cultivation of cannabis in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Though the drug is illegal in Canada (with exceptions for medical uses), its recreational use is often tolerated and is more commonplace in the province of BC as compared to most of the rest of the country. The province's inexpensive hydroelectric power and abundance of water and sunshine—in addition to the many hills and forests (which aid stealth outdoor growing)—make it an ideal cannabis growing area. The British Columbia cannabis industry is worth an estimated CAD6 billion annually, and produces 40 percent of all Canadian cannabis, making cannabis among the most valuable cash crops in the province. The province is also the home of the cannabis activist and businessman Marc Emery.
The early history of cannabis production was centered in hippie communities in the Gulf Islands and Kootenays, in climate conditions perfect for outdoor growing. However, it is believed that much of the cannabis currently sold for export originates from hydroponic grow operations in the Lower Mainland, with significant amounts added by outdoor growers throughout the province. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the majority of these grow operations are run by gangs such as the Hells Angels, and the Red Scorpions.
A large amount of the province's cannabis crop is smuggled across the national border to the United States, up to 95 percent according to some US officials, as "B.C. Bud"'s value more than doubles in the US. As of 2010[update] experts estimate that the province exports CA$4-8 billion in cannabis annually, among British Columbia's largest exports with softwood lumber. Some Americans believe that the provincial government is, Canadian Geographic reported that year, "quietly tolerant" of the cannabis industry because of its importance to the economy.
Opinion polling in British Columbia has shown that the province has greater support for cannabis legalization than any other Canadian province. A 2012 Angus Reid Public Opinion poll found that 61 percent of British Columbians support the legalization of Cannabis, compared to 53 percent in the rest of Canada.
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