Although possessing and smoking pot is technically illegal

Metchosin marijuana motion moves up the ladder

Regional politicians back motion to decriminalize marijuana

They didn’t serve pot brownies at the event, but Metchosin council’s drive to decriminalize marijuana gained clear support at an annual Vancouver Island local government conference this month.

Coun. Moralea Milne presented Metchosin’s resolution to decriminalize marijuana at the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities annual convention in Ucluelet. She argued to the crowd of more than 200 mayors, councillors and regional directors, that crime problems stem from marijuana being illegal, not the drug itself.

“It was quite a lively discussion, and they all discussed the pros and the cons,” Moralea said. The discussion was cut off due to time constraints at the meeting over April 13 to 15.

The resolution stated that “Marijuana prohibition is a failed policy which has cost millions of dollars in police, court, jail and social costs.” “About 65 to 75 per cent were in favour … they just do a visual count,” Milne said. “It was a resounding approval.”

The Metchosin councillor argues the illegality of marijuana is responsible for criminal behaviour and health risks, such as mouldy, unsafe grow-op houses, theft of electricity, and violence involving “drug rips.”

Langford Coun. Lillian Szpak was at the conference and was one of the many politicians who voted in favour of the motion.

Szpak said it was interesting to see the AVICC vote reflect a recent national poll by Toronto-based Forum Research Inc., where 73 per cent of British Colombians wanted to see the drug decriminalized.

“We all fear organized crime more than anything, and that came out at the conference,” Szpak said. “There is evidence that there are massive profits from marijuana for organized crime. There is easy access to marijuana and reduced public safety.”

Sooke Mayor Wendal Milne, no relation to Moralea Milne, was another supporter of the motion. A retired RCMP officer, he worked with a drug squad in Victoria.

“The war on drugs has failed,” Wendal said. “I don’t think they should legalize it, but they should decriminalize it.”

In his experience, he has seen people face charges for possessing small amounts of marijuana and others allowed to go free. Wendal said decriminalizing the drug would allow it to be regulated more consistently.

The Sooke mayor suggests the law should be changed to allow police to issue $175 tickets for smoking pot in public, similar to drinking alcohol. “You’ve got to have some type of control.”

Another issue brought up at the convention is that recreational marijuana users are receiving jail time and criminal records.

“Prohibition hasn’t achieved it goal. These are people in our communities that we don’t see as criminals,” Szpak said. “Decriminalization doesn’t mean legalization, it means you won’t have a criminal record for having a small amount of marijuana.”

With the support of AVICC, the motion will be carried to the annual meeting of the Union of B.C. Municipalities in September.

AVICC’s call to decriminialize pot come alongside similar calls by high-profile British Columbians, including former B.C. attorneys-general Geoff Plant, Colin Gabelmann, Ujjal Dosanjh and Graeme Bowbrick, who signed a letter to Premier Christy Clark and Opposition leader Adrian Dix calling for the regulation and taxation of cannabis to combat organized crime.

B.C.’s chief medical health officer Dr. Perry Kendall has also endorsed a health-based approach to marijuana policy.

“(Drugs are) federal jurisdiction, but it would be good if the province supported it too,” Moralea Milne said. “It’s a small but significant step forward.”

–with files from Jeff Nagel

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

Just Posted

More than 900 new units planned for Langford Lake development

Council still has to sign-off on rezoning application

Hey Amazon, the bid’s in the mail: Langford mayor

The City of Langford has officially submitted its bid to become the home of Amazon HQ2.

Art has become a lifestyle for local resident

Coast Collective’s latest exhibit celebrates all things late fall

Deadline looming for youth transitional housing

Province says funding for 10 units not available at this time

Island athletes compete at Dragon Boat Championship in China

Eight paddlers will be part of team representing Canada Oct. 18-23

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

EDITORIAL: It’s time to change the sexual assault conversation

The words “Me Too” are taking social media by storm this week,… Continue reading

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Event puts pets in the picture for Halloween

Pets West holding Halloween party Oct. 29 at its Broadmead Village location

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Most Read