Pubdate: Thu, 27 Sep 2012
Source: Pique Newsmagazine (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Pique Publishing Inc.
Author: Cathryn Atkinson


Whistler mayor supports UBMC declaration on marijuana

The Union of British Columbian Municipalities has passed a resolution
in support of the decriminalization of marijuana, and Sea to Sky
politicians say it is time for the laws to change.

The declaration was made at the conference in Victoria on Wednesday,
Sept. 26..

Sales of the drug top billions of dollars in Canada per year and,
among other things, proponents say legalization would lead to better
monitors and controls for the industry as well as taxation for
government coffers.

Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden voted in favour of the resolution,
saying in a phone interview that it was time to take the criminal
element out of the equation.

"It seems to me that getting rid of grow operations is going to be the
likely outcome if it is decriminalized and that's a good thing," she
said. "It would be regulated. Prohibition has been a failed policy and
the cultivation and trade of marijuana is in the hands of gangs. Those
are primarily my reasons."

While the gang impact from the marijuana market has not had much
impact in Whistler compared to other parts of British Columbia, it
still remains important to the resort, Wilhelm-Morden said.

"It's more luck than anything. We do know that gangsters do come to
Whistler from time to time, but for those communities that have heavy
gang influence they've got a level of violence in the community that
is simply unacceptable," she said.

The next step for the resolution is for the UBCM executive to liaise
with the Ministry of Community Affairs regarding all of the
resolutions made at the conference, including this one. The
resolutions are not binding.

"We were talking at lunch about what will happen next as a result of
this resolution, and someone said 'this is the way legalizing gay
marriage started, by resolutions passed at organizations like UBCM',"
Wilhelm-Morden said.

Wilhelm-Morden posted the result of the vote on her Facebook page,
Nancy the Mayor, and got a mixed response for her position.

"Sorry to hear that you voted in favour of decriminalizing marijuana
because the criminals will NEVER give up trying to sell it," wrote
Gord Gunner. "It is NOT good for you. I will NEVER support anybody or
(a) politician that supports the use of marijuana. My respect for you
madam mayor is starting to fade."

But Paul Fournier disagreed.

"The reality of the situation is pot is never going away. I have
known, and know, many people lose the life battle because tobacco and
or alcohol. It only makes sense to take out the criminals," he wrote.

Squamish councillor Bryan Raiser, a user of medical marijuana, was
also at the UBCM conference and voted in favour of the resolution.

"It used to be everyone was talking about medical marijuana. No one
wanted to touch (recreational use); 'deal with medical, it's a safer
thing to deal with,'" he said.

"This time everyone is basically fed up. We have a law that doesn't
work. There was a four-hour discussion on it on Monday and the
speakers were overwhelmingly supportive. Even the status-quo guys, for
lack of a better word, said something has to change."

Raiser said he saw the resolution as a good step towards forcing the
conversation at the provincial and federal level.

"That is where it should be, but they just haven't had the ... courage
to deal with the issue," he said.

"The confidence that people have in speaking about it, there's no
stigma attached to it anymore, although some people have trouble
talking about it without making jokes."

The debate at the UBCM was heated, he said. One representative from
the interior of B.C. didn't want to see marijuana decriminalized
because too many people there are making money from it illegally.

"Many communities would not exist (without it)aE& It's such a huge
topic. Do you legalize it? Do you decriminalize it?" he said. "Another
good point brought up is that you have three options to regulate
marijuana: the gangs will regulate it, big business will regulate it
or government will regulate it? Which do we want?".
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