Squamish is taking the ganja to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) table next week.
At Tuesday's (Sept. 18) council meeting, Coun. Bryan Raiser made a motion calling for the District of Squamish write to UBCM and provincial and federal ministers of health and justice endorsing the adoption of a public health-based, regulatory approach to cannabis taxation and control.
This was not the first time Raiser sparked the subject. In July, he asked that council support a letter calling for regulation of marijuana that was signed by several B.C. politicians, including Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and the City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto. The motion was defeated by Mayor Rob Kirkham, Coun. Ron Sander and Coun. Doug Race. Councillors Patricia Heintzman and Susan Chapelle were absent from the July meeting.
This time around the divide stood the same, but the trio were outnumbered as Heintzman and Chapelle sided with Raiser.
Although the issue is beyond the district's reach, it's council's duty to raise constituents' concerns with provincial and federal politicians, Raiser argued.
“One big job of being a councillor is talking to other levels of government,” he said.
That said, Race noted, council didn't have a mandate from the community to express opinions on marijuana regulation.
As a massage therapist, Chapelle said she sees the benefit of the drug through her cancer patients. Sander retorted that current laws already allow the medical use of marijuana. People who believe that legalizing the substance will eliminate crime are naïve, he added.
“[Council] should be focusing on the things we identified collectively as a community,” Sander said.
The UBCM convention begins on Monday (Sept. 24). The conference allows municipalities a chance to pitch their concerns and issues to provincial politicians.