Eight British Columbia mayors are calling on the provincial Liberal provincial government to legalize cannabis in an effort to reduce crime associated with the marijuana trade.
The mayors, including Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson, sent a letter Thursday to Premier Christy Clark and opposition party leaders urging them to support the regulation and taxation of cannabis.
“As mayors of BC municipalities, we are fully aware of the harms stemming from the province’s large illegal marijuana industry,” the letter stated. “Our communities have been deeply affected by the consequences of marijuana prohibition including large-scale grow-ops, increased organized crime and ongoing gang violence.
“It is time to tax and strictly regulate marijuana under a public health framework; regulating marijuana would allow the government to rationally address the health concerns of marijuana, raise government tax revenue and eliminate the huge profits from the marijuana industry that flow directly to organized crime.”
The mayor’s letter comes after a similar plea from four former B.C. Attorneys General. Colin Gabelmann, Ujjal Dosanjh, Graeme Bowbrick and Geoff Plant also signed a letter to Clark and provincial NDP Leader Adrian Dix, calling on the politicians to endorse legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana.
The mayors’ letter was sent following several recent motions passed by municipal councils supporting a regulatory approach to cannabis policy. Most recently, Robertson announced Thursday a motion for Vancouver City Council to endorse the Stop the Violence BC campaign would be on the council agenda next week.
“Widespread access to marijuana for our youth, grow-ops that provide funds for organized crime, and significant costs to taxpayers for enforcement are all compelling reasons to re-examine our failed approach to prohibition,” Robertson stated in a news release.
In their letter, the mayors say their residents are ready for a new approach to marijuana policy. They noted that according to Angus Reid, 12 per cent of British Columbians support the current approach to controlling marijuana compared to 66 per cent who support taxation and regulation, the position championed by the Stop the Violence B.C. Coalition.
Stop the Violence B.C. is a coalition of law enforcement officials, legal experts, public health officials and academic experts from the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria and the University of Northern British Columbia.
“We stand together as B.C. mayors because we think our communities will be safer and our children better protected from criminal elements if we overturn marijuana prohibition and implement policies that strictly regulate the adult use of cannabis,” said City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto, whose council passed a motion supporting the regulation of cannabis on April 23.
Robert Sawatzky, Mayor of Vernon, urged all B.C. mayors to consider the escalating costs of prohibition, and “join our efforts to implement evidence-based cannabis policies that reflect our commitment as municipal leaders to community health and safety.”
- Richard J. Brennan/Torstar News Service