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

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This house in the 600-block of Linden Avenue in Fairfield has a Día de Muertos theme for 2020. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Haunted Oak Bay

Residents spookify houses

A rare Short-eared owl was found dead in a Saanich backyard on Oct. 26 and will be sent for a necropsy to find out if it had ingested rat poison. (Photo courtesy Kimberly Adamec)
Rare owl found dead in Saanich yard to be sent for necropsy

Short-eared owl ‘vulnerable’ in B.C., owl advocate says

Police continue to investigate a break-and-enter in this Sidney jewelry store in the 2500-block of Beacon Avenue. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Thieves hit Sidney jewelry store

Sidney/North Saanich RCMP says incident is not part of a larger trend

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch #91, said plans for a new building will ensure long-term sustainability. (Black Press Media file photo)
Plans for new Legion in Langford include low-cost housing for seniors

Project could be before council in early 2021

The Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. closed permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks closes despite petition signed by nearly 250 residents

Closure part of transition to more drive-thru locations, Starbucks spokesperson says

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

An elderly woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past an advertisement for a television series in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. has been under a COVID-19 state of emergency for more than half the year

Province has been under a state of emergency for 32 weeks – and counting

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Most Read