Municipal leaders join growing chorus on drug laws

Union of B.C. Municipalities put needs of community first in calling for end to marijuana prohibition

The group representing local governments throughout the province has become the latest to call for the end to a war that there is no hope of winning.

“For too long our communities have borne the brunt of the harmful consequences of cannabis prohibition, from increased gang violence on our streets to enormous costs of enforcing a thoroughly discredited policy,” said John Ranns, the mayor of Metchosin, which brought forward the resolution calling for the decriminalization of cannabis that was endorsed at last week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

At first glance, you could be forgiven for asking yourself: What have these guys been smoking? The issue of marijuana decriminalization is clearly something that falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

But on further reflection it becomes apparent that it is communities, both large and small, that feel the sting of the rising bloodshed and squandered resources caused by Canada’s failed drug policies.

And B.C.’s municipal leaders are not alone. Dr. Evan Wood, professor of medicine at the University of B.C., called the UBCM resolution a “symbolic gesture” in the bid to stop a trade in which $2.7 billion annually goes to organized crime.

“Prohibition has not achieved its stated objectives to reduce the demand for and supply of cannabis. Instead, current laws have resulted in negative social and economic consequences at the municipal and provincial level,” said Wood, the founder of Stop the Violence B.C., a coalition of academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts campaigning to reform cannabis laws.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made it abundantly clear that no amount of bloodshed and wasted resources will change his mind on marijuana laws. But that can’t stop B.C.’s civic leaders from doing what they believe is best for the communities they serve.


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