What a difference four months can make. Though the weather this week is a reminder of what we saw fall from the sky in June, around the council table the discussion over the decriminalization of marijuana was vastly different.
In what will likely go down as one of the most explosive sessions of this current council’s term, when councillor Donna Macdonald put forward a motion to support the Stop the Violence BC campaign back on June 11, the THC hit the fan.
Rightly or wrongly, Mayor John Dooley felt ambushed. The veteran local politician said he would “go to the wall” against such a motion and make it an election issue. Those putting forward the motion were stunned by Dooley’s outburst and the entire issue sparked a lengthy debate on these very pages.
In today’s front page story you can read about a similar motion and an entirely different mood. No fireworks, just a successful motion of support for a call from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) to spur senior governments to take action on the decriminalization and taxation of pot.
It’s a classic example of time enabling both sides to get what they want.
Dooley’s discomfort came from lack of proper dialogue and the fact he was being asked to sign his name to support a group he was not comfortable endorsing. With discussion now taking place at the UBCM through channels Dooley trusts, the mayor is willing to enter the push for more discussion.
As upsetting as the mayor’s tirade was in June, Macdonald and supporters of the original motion have also succeeded. Discussion and debate are essential to any change in laws involving marijuana. The drama of the spring meeting got people talking. Change is sometimes uncomfortable.
The hurdles of marijuana decriminalization only get higher beyond the city council table. The federal government holds most of the cards on this issue and until the Tories are sitting on the other side of power, nothing will change. But motions like Nelson’s are important in the long run and it’s encouraging to see council clear this from its agenda so they can move onto more pressing local issues.