C.R. part of call to decriminalize marijuana use
BY DAN MACLENNAN, CAMPBELL RIVER COURIER-ISLANDER; WITH FILES FROM GLACIER NEWS SERVICE
Vancouver Island municipal politicians, including Campbell River's representative, are urging the federal government to decriminalize marijuana, a move they say would reduce crime and create additional revenue.
Delegates at the annual conference for the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities sent a clear message on April 14 by supporting a resolution that calls on Ottawa to change its laws.
"Marijuana prohibition" has resulted in "millions of dollars in police, court, jail and social costs," says the recommendation, which was supported by about 75 per cent of the 240 delegates at the annual AVICC conference in Ucluelet. The issue will receive broader discussion in September, when AVICC brings the resolution to the conference for the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
Coun. Claire Moglove, a lawyer by trade, was the only member of city council to attend AVICC.
"I voted in favor because, as written, the resolution in my opinion was quite innocuous, in the sense that it called for not the legalization of marijuana but the decriminalization of marijuana which is a different thing," she told the Courier-Islander last week. "It also called for looking into doing research on regulation and taxation. That's as far as the resolution went so I thought it was a relatively innocuous resolution, and I'd like to see what the research might come up with in terms of regulation and taxation."
Campbell River Mayor Walter Jakeway said he wasn't aware the issue was going to be coming up at AVICC. He said the city did not have an official position on the issue, as far as he knew.
"They're welcome to do as they wish," he said.
The resolution came from the Metchosin council in January.
"I was really proud of all those who would stand up, while they're in office, and speak out about it," said Metchosin Coun. Moralea Milne, who drafted the resolution with her council late last year. The council was inspired by four former Vancouver mayors who called for the decriminalization of marijuana. Mike Harcourt, Philip Owen, Larry Campbell and Sam Sullivan called on B.C. pol-WN-UARY iticians at every level of government to consider the impact of the drug being illegal. "Marijuana prohibition is - without question - a failed policy," they wrote in a statement issued in November.
Three months later, former North Island MLA Colin Gabelmann was among four former BC attorneys general to call on Premier Christy Clark and NDP opposition leader Adrian Dix to endorse legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana to help stop gang activity associated with the illegal marijuana trade, raise tax revenue and ease strain on the province's overburdened court system.
The letter to the political leaders - signed by Gabelmann, Ujjal Dosanjh, Graeme Bowbrick, and Geoff Plant - was in the aftermath of escalating gang violence in the Lower Mainland that resulted in multiple public shootings in Vancouver and Surrey.
"The case demonstrating the failure and harms of marijuana prohibition is airtight," the former attorneys general wrote. "Massive profits for organized crime, widespread gang violence, easy access to illegal cannabis for our youth, reduced community safety and significant - and escalating - costs to taxpayers." The resolution going to UBCM urges the province to pressure Ottawa to decriminalize, regulate and tax marijuana.Milne said there is wide support in B.C. for changing the laws. A room of about 200 delegates at last year's UBCM gave her loud applause when she said problems with grow-ops would disappear if the drug were decriminalized.