Cannabis in British Columbia
Cannabis in British Columbia 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 $6 billion annually, and produces 40% 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.
A 2004 joint study by the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University found that 53% of British Columbians had tried cannabis at least once.
In the city of Vancouver, there are several Cannabis coffee shop where cannabis is smoked openly and personal use throughout the city is tolerated by local police.
The early history of cannabis production was centered in hippie communities in the Gulf Islands and Kootenay area, 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. The US DEA says the majority of these grow operations are run by gangs such as the Hells Angels, and the Red Scorpions. In 2008, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police inspector estimated the number of grow-ops in residential houses in the province to be 20,000.
A large amount of the province's cannabis crop is exported to the United States, up to 95% according to some US officials.
Opinion polling in British Columbia has shown that the province has greater support for cannabis legalization than in any other Canadian province. A 2012 Angus Reid Public Opinion poll found that 61% of British Columbians support the legalization of Cannabis, compared to 53% in the rest of Canada.