Local MLA Joan McIntyre this week joined a growing list of politicians in endorsing the legalization and regulation of marijuana in British Columbia.
McIntyre, a two-term MLA who a few weeks ago announced that she will not seek re-election in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast during the May 2013 provincial election, announced her position in a statement issued on Thursday (Oct. 18).
“I join my colleague MLA Kash Heed in support of the legalization of marijuana,” McIntyre said. “Like MLA Heed I believe that ending the prohibition of marijuana will make our communities safer by taking the industry out of the hands of organized crime.”
Heed, MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview and a former police officer and B.C. solicitor general, also endorsed the legalization and regulation of marijuana this week.
“Kash Heed and other experts, such as Dr. Julio Montaner and Dr. Evan Wood of the organization Stop the Violence B.C., believe that marijuana prohibition increases gang violence in our province — violence which does not take place in a silo, but rather on the streets of our communities, putting B.C. families at risk,” McIntyre said.
“Prohibition has required a substantial investment in our police services, and places a heavy financial burden on the taxpayer. I believe, as my colleague Kash Heed does, that it draws police resources and capacity away from other, more pragmatic areas which would make our communities safer.
“In spite of the dedicated efforts of our police in B.C., a war on drugs only serves to drive organized crime further underground; it fails to end the cycle of violence and drug use, but succeeds in draining our coffers.
“I believe we need a paradigm shift from prohibition to one of regulation and taxation, making B.C. safer for us all.”
In recent months municipal politicians including Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson have come out in favour of decriminalization of marijuana. On Sept. 26, the Union of B.C. Municipalities adopted a resolution endorsing decriminalization. Before that vote, in response to a motion from Coun. Bryan Raiser, Squamish council voted 4-3 in favour of the UBCM resolution endorsing decriminalization.