In a symbolic gesture meant to send a message to the federal government, Metchosin councillors said they support decriminalizing marijuana, except for one.
Coun. Larry Tremblay is worried about council’s image.
“I am one of the few who have never tried it,” Tremblay said at a committee meeting Monday. “I’ll probably go down as the Neanderthal in Metchosin who doesn’t support it, but I don’t want to down as the pothead council of Metchosin.”
“In my view this is long overdue,” countered Coun. Bob Gramigna. “I’ve tried it, not here in Metchosin and I’ve lived here for 15 years, but let’s get real folks.”
Coun. Moralea Milne, chair of the finance and environment committee, had the issue added to the committee’s agenda. Milne argued the illegality of marijuana is responsible for criminal behaviour, such as mouldy, unsafe grow-op houses and the theft of electricity.
“I think it should be released and taxed like alcohol,” Milne said. “We need to bring some sanity to our lawmaking. The problem with marijuana is a failed policy.”
While Milne admits to trying marijuana in her younger days, says she hasn’t touched it in 40 years. “It’s not a personal issue for me, it’s a social issue,” she said.
Milne became inspired to bring the issue to Metchosin council after attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September.
Typically, UBCM members vote each year on a resolution on giving police more power to fight grow-ops, and each year it is defeated.
Milne put on a talk about the failed war on marijuana. “I know it’s in a federal jurisdiction but it needs politicians to change their minds,” Milne said.
“It was astounding … she got the largest ovation,” noted Coun. Jo Mitchell.
Metchosin’s motion came on the heels of the Health Officers Council of B.C. endorsing a call to decriminalize and tax marijuana due to the public health risk from criminal activity.
“It’s not just a bunch of pot-smoking hippies saying this,” Milne said.
The finance committee passed a motion to bring the issue to council. If council endorses the legalization motion, it will be passed on to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities.
“It’s a tough question, but obviously what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked,” said Mayor John Ranns. “I fear organized crime more than just about anything.”