|43 weeks ago I read a theory that going for 50 coffees with people you’ve never met is the entrepreneur’s equivalent to the theory that doing anything for 10,000 hours will make you an expert on it. While I get the idea, 50 coffees is far easier than practicing something for ten years, and while I’m far from lazy I decided to set out on a fairly simple mission: over 50 weeks I’m inviting 50 interesting Vancouverites, most of whom I have never met before, to go for coffee. I’m using this as an exercise in networking for myself and for V.I.A. while also using it as a platform to introduce you to some people who are doing really cool stuff in the city you live in.
Meet Evan Wood. Professor of medicine at UBC, lead researcher at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, founding principal investigator of the Insite safe injection facility, director of the Urban Health Research Initiative and a member of the Stop the Violence BC coalition.
Evan has a lot of initials behind his name (MD, PhD, ABIM, FRCPC) and in the media is usually pictured wearing a suit or a lab coat, and I guess I was sortof relieved that he came to our coffee meeting at the Everything Cafe in Chinatown dressed casual.
We were both wearing t-shirts and we had a great conversation but I’m not going to pretend to have a grasp on all that Evan does in his work. I do know that in the end it’s mostly about the safety of the public, and I wanted to meet with him for coffee to talk about Stop The Violence BC.
STVBC is “a coalition of law enforcement officials, legal experts, medical and public health officials and academic experts concerned about the links between cannabis prohibition in BC and the growth of organized crime and related violence in the province” and although I was previously aware of them what really caught my attention was when Business In Vancouver recently published THIS ARTICLE written by my friend, Peter Ladner (who was, coincidentally, Coffee #14 in this series of mine). In it, Peter presents the business case for ending prohibition and also shared the fact that “public opinion is well past the tipping point” on the issue, citing these stats taken from a recent Angus Reid poll:
– 69% of the B.C. adults surveyed think arresting marijuana producers and sellers is ineffective and B.C. would be better off taxing and regulating marijuana;
– 75% reject the notion that possession of marijuana should lead to a criminal records; and
– only 12% support keeping current marijuana laws in place.
STVBC is initiating conversations around how community health and safety would be improved if we shifted from prohibition to regulating and taxing marijuana. What I find particularly awesome is the “sober” tone of it and that support is being provided by health experts, lawyers, mayors, attorney generals and law enforcement, and it doesn’t reside anywhere on the political spectrum. This needn’t be an issue that is politicized or made into a “right or “left” thing (in fact it is supported by both), and is simply about British Columbians taking cues from research and common sense to insure a safer quality of life for the future residents of our city, our province and our country.
I’m not a marijuana user but I’ve long been (privately) in favour of ending prohibition and having a regulated system in place. Stop the Violence BC is an incredibly awesome initiative launching out of Vancouver and it would be silly for me to not personally sign on as a Coalition Member, so as of today I’m doing just that; I’m taking my private thoughts public and officially putting my support behind this. I hope that you’ll also have a look and consider joining in with me.
And stay tuned for more 50 Coffees!