The Union of British Columbia Municipalities voted Wednesday in favour of a resolution calling for the decriminalization of marijuana and the study of a taxed and regulated system. The vote followed an extensive debate of the issue on Monday where delegates heard arguments in favour and against the resolution.
Speaking in favour of the resolution were Dr. Evan Wood, physician, researcher and founder of Stop the Violence as well as David Bratzer, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and Geoff Plant, former attorney general of B.C.
The UBCM vote came after the Sensible BC campaign to decriminalize cannabis through a provincial referendum held a public forum in Victoria, which drew more than 500 attendees.
“I congratulate the UBCM for passing this excellent resolution,” said Dana Larsen, director of Sensible BC. “This is a huge step forwards for a sensible cannabis policy in British Columbia.”
Marijuana is currently prohibited by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act under federal jurisdiction. The Conservative government’s recent omnibus crime bill increased penalties for some marijuana offenses.
Those measures came into effect this fall despite resounding criticism from experts and opposition parties that the measures were unnecessary and would increase provincial costs. The costs of enforcing this federal prohibition, however, fall to the provinces, which have extensive leeway to determine police priorities.
“The Sensible BC campaign aims to decriminalize cannabis possession in BC by redirecting provincial police time and resources towards more serious offenses,” Larsen said. “I hope that our provincial leaders will add their voices to those of the municipalities calling for a new direction in cannabis law.”