VICTORIA— The Union of British Columbia Municipalities has voted in favour of a resolution urging the federal government to decriminalize marijuana.
The wording of the resolution calls on “the appropriate government to decriminalize marijuana and research the regulation and taxation of marijuana.”
The motion, which was put forward by Metchosin, called the current system of prohibition a “failed policy.” The motion’s proposers emphasized that they were not advocating marijuana use for everyone, but said that keeping marijuana illegal causes more problems than it solves.
The successful resolution came after a debate on the issue on Monday, where the UBCM delegates heard impassioned voices on both sides of the argument from a panel that included former Attorney General Geoff Plant in favour of reform, and University of the Fraser Valley criminologist Darryl Plecas against.
“Five-hundred-eighty-five-thousand British Columbians regularly use marijuana,” said Plant in his statement. “Doesn’t feel to me like that’s a highly successful example of public policy. You all govern and live with the consequences of this disastrous and expensive failure of public policy and it’s entirely appropriate for you to take a stand on behalf of the citizens of the communities you represent, for change.”
Plecas argued that decriminalization would not put a stop to the black market nor gang violence.
“Smoking marijuana is stupid and you become stupider,” he said.
The majority of delegates at the UBCM conference sided with Plant, and voted to support a change.
UBCM’s support for legal reform comes as Washington gears up to vote on Initiative 502, which would legalize, regulate and tax the sale of small amounts of marijuana to adults for recreational use.
While UBCM’s support will not force any legal changes, it does provide a significant platform for supporters of reform to put pressure at higher levels of government.