It’s unlikely that B.C.’s mayors, councillors and regional district directors took a call for marijuana decriminalization lightly.
After all, addiction to drugs has had a devastating impact on individuals and families. For many, abuse has resulted in pain and tragedy.
However, civic leaders are demonstrating leadership by questioning current legislative and enforcement policies.
For those residents who pursue pot recreationally and have one or two plants, they are lumped in with gangs and hardened criminals who prey on the weakness of others.
Most B.C. communities, including in the North Okanagan, have experienced the violence associated with criminal organizations. It is municipalities, through their taxpayers, who are left struggling with the increasing cost of policing.
Large-scale grow-ops also create a significant health risk for residents living nearby as well as emergency personnel who respond to the scene.
Kevin Acton, Lumby’s mayor, says there is no choice but to reconsider marijuana laws.
“We want to put control in the hands of regulators. By being illegal, we keep activities underground,” he said.
It should be pointed out that demands for regulating marijuana come from officials from communities big and small, urban and rural. They can’t be simply dismissed as radicals.
On top of this, calls for decriminalization have come from the Health Officers Council of B.C., four former mayors of Vancouver and four former B.C. attorneys general.
Hopefully, the federal government will take notice of the rationale debate in B.C. and consider the possibility that current laws may not be working.
Ottawa must join the conversation.