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

Gun, drugs and cash seized in arrest of alleged Victoria fentanyl dealer

Brent Connors is facing nine charges in relation to the investigation

Sooke Road bus pullouts now operational, says province

Pullouts are located at the West Shore Parkway, Laidlaw Road and Harbourview Road

SOOKE HISTORY: T’Sou-ke and Pacheedaht paddlers

Elida Peers | Contributed This 1993 photo taken by Angela Bailey when… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Oak Bay police officers rescue baby seal found on rocky shoreline

Marina Mammal Rescue Centre recommends residents observe from a distance

B.C. man (pick up truck, Lucky Beer poster, and all) revels in return to Esquimalt

Rear-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie assumed command of the Maritime Forces Pacific

Victoria Ska and Reggae Fest fills harbour with music

Music festival wraps with free party Sunday at Ship Point

WEB POLL: Should illegal immigrants be separated from their children?

Should illegal immigrants be separated from their children?… Continue reading

5 fun things to do this weekend in Greater Victoria

Victoria Ska and Reggae Fest, Ride Don’t Hide, Cordova Bay Day and more

Vancouver Canucks tab Quinn Hughes with No. 7 overall pick in NHL draft

University of Michigan standout was second defenceman picked in first round

Jogger spent two weeks in U.S. detention centre after accidentally crossing B.C. border

Cedella Roman, 19, crossed the border while out for a run

B.C. woman with severely disabled son keeps getting parking tickets

‘There has to be something they could do’

Man brandishes axe during robbery

Mounties were able to locate the suspect within two hours of the incident

‘Creep off’ reporting system aims to track street harassment in Metro Vancouver

Text-based hotline launches to collect public reports on where and when harassment occurs

Happy ending for orphaned bear cubs

Two orphaned bear cubs were captured in Castlegar and sent for rehabilitation.

Most Read