A futile vote?

Vote on marijuana legalization could have been mostly for show

At first glance, we had to question why a group of municipal politicians was trying to tackle what’s clearly an issue for the federal government.

It was one of those moments of bewilderment — we believe the technical term for this is: “Huh?”

We were looking at the issue from a protect-the-public-purse angle, wondering why cities and towns like Parksville and Qualicum Beach were spending taxpayer dollars to send politicians and staff to the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual conference to debate the decriminalization of marijuana. Our journalistic default position of cynicism deduced this was just the UBCM’s way of getting publicity for what can be a dry agenda focusing on things like the interest rates charged by municipal funding authorities (yawn).

We believe our motives for questioning the expense of this junket and its agenda were noble. However, upon further review, our initial response seems a tad narrow-minded. Sure, any change in the status of the criminality of marijuana will have to be legislated in Ottawa. That stated, the fallout of those changes will be felt on the streets, neighbourhoods, schools and workplaces in communities such as Nanoose Bay, Bowser, Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

We’re not prepared to debate the merits or pitfalls of marijuana decriminalization in this space today (we welcome your letters on the subject, as always). But we recognize it is a local issue, and appropriate for municipal leaders to debate. The UBCM resolution called for the “appropriate government to decriminalize marijuana and research the regulation and taxation of marijuana.”

On Wednesday, the resolution passed. Whether senior governments pay any attention to this remains to be seen. Many police chiefs in this country have said lifting the prohibition won’t have much effect on the big picture of organized crime’s role in distribution and the violent crime related to that side of the business.

So, was this a purposely-futile resolution put forward by the UBCM in order to increase the profile of their conference? If you have read this far, it apparently worked.                              — editorial by John Harding