Nakusp councillor Joseph Hughes described the recent debate over decriminalization of marijuana at the 2012 Union of BC Municipalities convention as “interesting.”
“One of the attendees brought up the issue of legalization rather than decriminalization, which was an interesting point,” said Hughes.
UBCM voted in favour of decriminalization, however, not legalization, with a solid majority.
“It was close,” Hughes said, “but it wasn’t close enough that we had to use our electronic voters.” So, with a show of hands, the resolution to call upon the appropriate governments to decriminalize marijuana passed.
Councillor Hughes noted that the motion doesn’t mean that charges for possession, production and trafficking will end immediately.
“We don’t make laws, but it forces the conversation to be had,” he said.
Traditionally, part of the conversation about marijuana is that it is a gateway drug that leads to the use of harder drugs, something Hughes is skeptical about.
He also believes that decriminalization of pot could reduce the revenue-creating arsenal of illegal substances available to gangs and organized crime.
“It won’t stop [gangsterism], but it will take that one drug out of their realm,” said Hughes.
Ordinary people who use the drug therapeutically shouldn’t bear the burden of feeling like they’re criminals simply because they smoke pot, the councillor pointed out.
“You have people in our community who have prescriptions for medical marijuana, and they feel like criminals, they feel ashamed,” he said.
The Nakusp councillor believes that bureaucrats are lagging behind the general population in regards to attitude toward marijuana. “This is something our government is sitting on the fence about. As far as our society goes, it’s pretty accepted,” said Hughes about marijuana use.