Nelson Council will consider its stance on regulating marijuana later this month.

Nelson council ponders prohibition stance

Council considers throwing its support behind a movement that supports taking a public health approach to marijuana use.

Nelson city council will be voting on whether to support the Stop the Violence BC campaign in June following a notice of motion by councillor Donna Macdonald.

The notice of motion was introduced earlier this month at a city council meeting.

“It started with an email from a local resident saying, ‘why isn’t Nelson supporting this?’” said Macdonald. “I really knew nothing about it so I went to their website and looked to see what the Stop the Violence BC group and campaign was about.”

The group and campaign is a coalition of academics, past/present members of law enforcement, and the general public concerned about the links between cannabis prohibition in BC and the growth of organized crime and related violence in the province.

Some of the supporters include former Vancouver mayors Larry Campbell and Sam Sullivan, former Premier Ujjal Dosanjh and Vince Cain, retired RCMP chief superintendent.

“The thing that moved me to action most was a recent letter from eight mayors around the province to the provincial government,” said Macdonald. “In the letter they make a pretty clear and concise case for regulation and taxation of this industry. Pointing out that our attempts at investing oodles of taxpayer money in trying to prohibit and police the industry has not worked.”

The group is asking for a new approach after the continued presence of marijuana associated crime such as gang activity and money from marijuana growth and sales going towards organized crime.

“We need to look at a different approach and the one they are suggesting is based on more a more public health approach like we did with tobacco for example,” said Macdonald. “I think if council agrees, as many voices as possible need to come forward in support of this campaign. Certainly we do hear from the police that there is organized crime related marijuana production going on in this area and certainly as taxpayers our money is going to this fairly unsuccessful campaign to combat it.”

The motion will formally be introduced as part of the June 11 city council meeting.

“Before then I certainly intend to make an opportunity to speak with the police chief about it and see how he feels, and do a bit more research,” said Macdonald. “It will come forward and council will decide whether or not to support it, if not now I gather this will be coming forward as part of the UBCM convention in the fall looking for broader municipal support.”

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