A former B.C. solicitor general predicts Canada will legalize marijuana in the next five years — no matter who is in charge in Ottawa.

Kash Heed, a retired politician and a former chief of the West Vancouver Police Department, is now working as a consultant for medical marijuana companies.

Heed argues it's only a matter of time before marijuana becomes legal for recreational use among adults in this country.

"Within five years," he told CBC Radio's Stephen Quinn on On The Coast. "And that is a positive thing, because we can now take [those] taxation dollars and put it back into programs such as prevention, education and health care that is so sadly needed here in Canada."

Heed says he is using his 30 years of experience in government and law enforcement to consult with medical marijuana growers on matters of policy and security.

He says a "green rush" has been underway in Colorado and Washington ever since recreational use of marijuana was legalized in those states. That green rush will affect the market here, whether pot is legal or not, he says.

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Heed says if the Canadian government regulates the sale of marijuana it could spawn a different kind of "green" economy. (CBC)

Heed believes putting the drug under the control of government will destroy the profit margins that attract criminal elements.

"Sixty per cent of all illicit profits goes to organized crime. We are not even getting the benefit of taxation out of this particular industry here in Canada."

He says following a model similar to what has been done in Uruguay, charging $1 per gram of marijuana, could make profits from the illegal trade so low that it would drive out organized crime elements.

The federal Liberals have come out in favour of decriminalizing marijuana, but the Conservative government says it has no interest in seeing pot legalized.

Click on the 'Listen' audio link above to listen to Kash Heed's full interview on CBC's On The Coast.

With files from the CBC's Emily Elias