Decriminalize but not legalize pot

UBCM votes to send message to Ottawa on decriminalization of marijuana

Sooke Mayor Wendal Milne

Mayor Wendal Milne wants people to know the vote to decriminalize marijuana at the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UNBC) held last week in Victoria is about decriminalization, not legalization.

“I support decriminalization for possession of marijuana,” said Milne after the conference on Friday.

He went on to say that the resulting bureaucratic paperwork was onerous and a criminal record for simple possession was not warranted.

“It shouldn’t be legal, we’re not making it legal, we are decriminalizing it,” reiterated Milne. He said selling marijuana would still be a criminal offense, but he didn’t think a kid should have a life-long criminal record for smoking a joint. He did not think marijuana should be used opening around schools or on the streets.

The resolution brought forward by the District of Metchosin to be send to the federal government states:

WHEREAS marijuana prohibition is a failed policy which has cost millions of dollars in police, court, jail and social costs;

AND WHEREAS the decriminalization and regulation of marijuana would provide tax revenues:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM call on the appropriate government to decriminalize marijuana and research the regulation and taxation of marijuana.

Those who voted in favour of the resolution join a number of former and current mayors, the Health Officers Council of B.C., and four former B.C. attorneys generals who have been calling for an end to marijuana prohibition.

Mayor Milne found his first UBCM experience to be good. He said there were lots of resources available in relation to economic development, jobs, economy, etc., from the present elected government. Networking was useful in that he got to talk to other councils and mayors from municipalities of the same size as Sooke.

“They have some of the same problems,” he said. “We don’t have to re-invent the wheel.”

He said cooperation and getting to know people was probably the biggest thing he learned at the conference.

The mayors of B.C. municipalities have gotten together for a Mayors’ Caucus and Milne said there are so many issues they all have in common. One of them is long term infrastructure and funding and waiting for funding from the higher levels of government.

He said a lot can be done electronically as bringing all the mayors together would be expensive and time consuming.

Milne said the mayors are saying just because an election is coming up doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get a say on what their priorities are. They need to get back to basics. He mentioned things such as, receiving funding for “beautification” projects rather than more substantial projects. He mentioned a grant of $250,000 for a trail alongside Throup Road which would be lost if not completed, but the district needs the road first, not the trail.”

All in all, said Milne, it was a good experience.