Following votes in Washington and Colorado that decriminalized marijuana, B.C. potheads' might be inclined to declare: "Roadtrip!"

But the province would be wise to sit back and watch how the legislation unfolds across the border before following suit.

Even former Marijuana Party leader Dana Larsen has put the brakes on his "Sensible Policing Act" initiative so he can learn from the American experience and muster his forces for a legalization push in B.C. next year.

It will be interesting to see just how much tax revenue is brought in.

Pro-legalization researchers here in B.C. say the value of black market pot sold to British Columbians is between $443 million and $564 million annually.

That's a big number, and legalization could, in theory, bring in significant tax dollars. But, it would be nåive to think problems associated with the drug trade would disappear overnight.

Decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot might save some police time and effort, but it would do nothing to stop the major portion of B.C.'s marijuana industry - international trade for cocaine and other hard drugs.

Criminal gangs aren't going to fold up their tents, declare victory and open up corner stores, selling packs of legal weed to the public - especially when they'd have to hand over a huge chunk of the income to the taxman. In Washington, a whopping 25 per cent tax will apply to pot sales.

We don't know if the researchers were smoking their own stash, but their numbers predict a $2.5 billion tax windfall for B.C. over five years, or about half a billion a year.

That's equal to the entire amount they say is sold. So will B.C. slap a 100 per cent tax on pot? Or maybe they expect usage to double.

Either way, it doesn't add up.

- Managing Editor

Jon Manchester

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