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Metchosin backs move to decriminalize marijuana

Feb 02 2012

Political leaders in Metchosin have joined what they see as a growing movement to decriminalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

Council members agreed to the three goals when they voted last week to send a resolution to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities convention in April.

Their fellow politicians from the region's municipalities will have to discuss the issue during the three-day conference in Ucluelet.

"Marijuana prohibition is a failed policy which has cost millions of dollars in police, court, jail and social costs," according to the Metchosin resolution.

The rural community of about 5,000 joined the recent groundswell created by a similar call to action from across the Strait of Georgia last year.

Four high-profile former Vancouver mayors made waves when they too called for the decriminalization of marijuana.

Mike Harcourt, Philip Owen, Larry Campbell and Sam Sullivan called on all B.C. politicians from every level of government to consider the impact of the illicit drug. "Marijuana prohibition is — without question — a failed policy," they wrote in a statement issued in November.

Two months later, Metchosin Coun. Moralea Milne raised the issue with her council, earning support from four of five politicians.

Only Coun. Larry Tremblay opposed the motion. "This is not the message I, personally, want to send to the younger people in my municipality," he said.

If delegates support the resolution at the convention, it will go to the convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities in September for further discussion.

Milne has no doubt that there is rising support for decriminalizing marijuana. She spoke to a packed room of about 200 delegates at last year's UBCM.

Milne was given a standing ovation when she said problems with marijuana growing operations would disappear if the drug was decriminalized.

"Municipalities' tax dollars are stretched thin, and spending vast sums on chasing, and punishing marijuana users, growers and sellers is a waste of our police and tax resources," she wrote in an email.

Taxing marijuana can lead to much-needed revenue for government and significant investments in health care, schools, affordable housing, the environment or other areas, Milne added.

Metchosin residents raised little opposition to the council's decision. Their reaction contrasts sharply with the fierce debate surrounding "detached secondary suites," which leads Mayor John Ranns to believe that residents support the decision.

UBCM president Heath Slee expects plenty of discussion should the resolution make it to his organization's convention.

"If there's highlights to the convention that would be one of them," he said.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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