Waters: More mayors should follow Baker on pot issue

The call for legalization—or at least decriminalization—of marijuana in B.C. is getting louder.

The call for legalization—or at least decriminalization—of marijuana in B.C. is getting louder.

Recently eight B.C. mayors—including James Baker of Lake Country, Robert Sawatzky of Vernon, Chris Pieper of Armstrong, Howie Cyr of Enderby, John Ranns of Metchosin on Vancouver Island, Darrell Mussamotto of the City of North Vancouver, Burnaby’s Derek Corrigan and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson—released a letter they had all signed calling on Victoria to tax and regulate the drug as a way to stop gang violence in this province and help make communities safer.

They sent the letter to Premier Christy Clark, NDP leader Adrian Dix and B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins.

The mayors’ call comes on the heels of similar demands by four former Vancouver mayors and four former B.C. attorneys-general. The attorneys-general served in both Liberal and NDP governments of the past.

Unlike some who staunchly hold on to the view that lumps marijuana into the same category as heroin and cocaine and considers it just as worthy of a legal ban, the latest group of mayors to speak out have come to the realization that the pot prohibition is helping feed B.C.’s growing culture of crime.

In this latest letter, the mayors say the current prohibition has led to large-scale grow ops, increased organized crime, ongoing gang violence and the need for increased police budgets to deal with the problems.

Without saying it directly, they make a strong case that with more marijuana available than ever before, it’s clear the pot portion of the “war on drugs” has been lost.

The mayors say 85 per cent of the province’s marijuana industry is controlled by criminal groups and the total industry is now worth $7 billion per year.

“It is time to tax and strictly regulate marijuana under a public health framework,” wrote the mayors.

The fact the letter was written by four rural area mayors—leaders of smaller B.C. communities—as well as three big city mayors shows that the issue is not just one that affects the Lower Mainland.

With the federal Conservative government making it clear it will not support any relaxation of the current laws concerning marijuana at the national level, any move by the province is likely still a long ways off.

But that does not mean the mayors’ call should go unheeded.

As B.C. municipalities like to say, there is strength in numbers. So, more mayors should join the call.

Here in the Central Okanagan, Kelowna’s, West Kelowna’s and Peachland’s mayors should jump aboard the wagon Baker has helped set in motion.

The Lake County mayor deserves credit for taking a stand on a controversial topic.

Now, do his colleagues in the other Central Okanagan municipalities have the guts to follow suit?

Just Posted

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

Rutland rallies behind Chiefs impressive season

The Kelowna Chiefs will finish atop the KIJHL, and conclude season this weekend in Rutland

City of Kelowna raises concerns over safety, policing with COG organizers

The mayor said it was a mutual decision between organizers and the city to postpone the festival

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Kelowna Rockets make stop at B.C. Parliament building

The hockey team snapped a picture while in Victoria Tuesday

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Crash closes highway between Vernon and Lumby

Traffic being routed around the scene

Level nightclub will be closing

Vehicle located in 2018 Shuswap abduction attempt

Chase RCMP say car used has since been sold, suspect still at large

Cougar ‘living’ next door to Okanagan elementary school

Conservation Office has been alerted and monitoring large cat

Dog dies in Kamloops RV fire

According to a fundraiser posted on social media, the cause of the fire was electrical

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

Most Read