OUR VIEW: Pot vote will open debate

Marijuana legalization will take time even though municipalities support it

Don’t expect British Columbia or any other provincial jurisdiction in Canada to legalize marijuana any time soon.

Despite a vote this week to decriminalize the personal use of pot (and perhaps eventually its cultivation) by a majority of B.C.’s municipal leaders at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention held in Victoria, there’s unlikely to be any movement on the matter by the province or the federal government.

The vote is a largely symbolic gesture, with some municipal mayors and councillors calling for pot to be legalized and regulated — much the same as tobacco, gambling and alcohol, vices that society already embraces (and taxes) to varying degrees.

Their resolution, which changes nothing right now — so don’t all rush out hoping to score an easy doob — sounds good on the surface. What this will do is spark more debate, but there are plenty of other arguments in the way against the legalization of marijuana. And whether most people agree with legalization or not, it’s going to take a willing federal government to change Canada’s laws. That’s unlikely under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and their embrace of the United States’ war on drugs.

Canadian police forces, too, are generally opposed, yet there are many examples of personal amounts of pot not leading to arrests or charges, simply because the courts won’t hear the small-scale stuff.

Without getting into the myriad of arguments for or against the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana, any change is going to come down to political willpower.

And while some politicians’ decision-making abilities make it seem they’re already on the wacky-tobaccy, party politics at this point dictates that any move to change the nation’s pot laws will go, well, up in smoke.


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