There was immediate provincewide media interest in the April 26 letter signed by Mayor James Baker and the mayors of seven other communities regarding a new approach to the marijuana industry in British Columbia.
In a two-page missive, the mayors acknowledge the tremendous harm the marijuana industry has on communities, the immense cost of the continued criminalization and the public health implications of current approaches.
The letter supports the Stop the Violence Campaign and calls for the taxation and strict regulation of marijuana.
The letter is, “An attempt to get some type of control over the situation,” says Baker.
The mayor recognizes there is a jurisdictional issue, but he is hoping the letter also signed by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robinson, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Vernon Mayor Robert Sawatzky, among others will help bring the issue front and centre with the provincial and federal governments.
“There obscene amounts of money associated with marijuana and to try and enforce the drug issue is not succeeding,” says Baker.
The mayor’s hope is that an approach similar to alcohol regulation would be taken up by the province.
“The parallels are so similar to alcohol. They could bring in a drug control act similar to the Alcohol Control Act. This isn’t about legalization as much as it is about regulation.”
The letter states: “According to public health experts, strict regulation of the marijuana market may also reduce marijuana use. In fact, the success in reducing rates of tobacco use has been achieved through public health regulation, not prohibition.”
Stop the Violence BC 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.
The organization worked closely with municipalities across B.C. to raise the issue.
A representative of the organization made a persuasive case for regulation at the April 17 District of Lake Country Council meeting.
Two district councilors were publicly concerned with the approach to marijuana regulation, Penney Gambell wished for more information on the expected benefits of the approach and Rob Geier was opposed to any initiative in regards to marijuana that might make the drug more available to young people.
The full text of the letter is elsewhere on this website.