Nelson’s police chief sees the Stop the Violence BC campaign as a way to spark an important dialogue around the nation’s marijuana policies.
“What I feel comfortable saying now, is based on past experience proposals such as this one start a conversation,” said Nelson Police Department chief Wayne Holland. “They rejuvenate a debate that has been going on for decades.
“As a citizen and a police officer, I don’t really expect that this proposal or any other one that comes down the road is going to be 100 per cent the solution. But it might just come up with one or two strategies or fix one piece of it in benefit of our society.”
Stop the Violence BC campaign is an educational campaign introduced by a coalition of academics, past and present law enforcement members and the general public asking for a regulatory framework aimed at limiting use and starving organized crime.
A motion was brought before Nelson city council on Monday night asking for Mayor John Dooley to sign a letter in support of the campaign.
Dooley mentioned Holland — who was not present at Monday’s meeting — during what became an explosive expression of his disapproval of the motion.
“As a matter of fact, I have a report here from a police chief that outlines many of the holes that are in it. Our police chief. And it has not even gone by the police board yet,” Dooley said during the meeting.
The motion as presented by Councillor Donna Macdonald asked for Dooley to write a letter in support of the campaign, but could not be fulfilled without the mayor’s support. It was tabled for discussion until after the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention in September and was passed.
Holland expressed empathy for the decision the municipality is facing around Stop the Violence and said there is room for growth and room to move forward “and I think that’s what this proposal is going to do.”
“When I look at the policy I can see some good objectives, but I can also see places where the policy will not perhaps do all it can in the public’s mind to ameliorate any danger to our youth or keep people inappropriately using the drug whether it be driving while under the influence or whether they are out in public or out in their personal lifestyle,” he said.
At the council meeting, Dooley also spoke about his concerns over how the marijuana trade has direct ties to the dealing of harder drugs like cocaine.
While Holland couldn’t speak specifically about cocaine in Nelson he said, “there is absolutely cocaine in our community. Whether that is the result of marijuana being exported and then it being brought back here… certainly that is suggested and that is what has been discovered through police projects over the past few decades. That shouldn’t come as surprise to anyone here. I don’t think this proposal is saying if we do what is proposed it will cure the organized crime problem.”
A main objective of the Stop the Violence BC is through regulation to “starve” organized crime.
“I don’t think any community large or small is of the firm belief that organized crime doesn’t touch them, even on a daily basis in communities such as Nelson or in other larger communities. It is everywhere,” he said. “I think that someone would have to be living in a cave to suggest that organized crime connected to marijuana isn’t thriving in this community.”
Holland will be meeting with the Nelson Police Board and provincial municipal police chiefs at the end of this month.
He expects the campaign to be part of the discussion.