March 6, 2013

Marijuana decriminalization pitched at labour council

The financial advantages of marijuana decriminalization is one of the themes a campaign to put the issue on a referendum ballot will stress, a local spokesman said Wednesday.
Mark Conlin told North Okanagan Labour Council delegates Wednesday in Kelowna legalization would bring in half a billion dollars of revenue a year to the provincial government in taxation and licencing, while also saving tens of millions a year in enforcement costs.
Sensible B.C. is launching a campaign to force a referendum on decriminalization in September 2014.
Conlin said the group is lining up volunteers to launch a petition drive in September and October. The group will need to gather about 400,000 signatures to force the referendum under B.C.'s recall and initiative act.
If passed, the referendum would order police in B.C. to stop searching, seizing and arresting adults for simple possession of cannabis.
It would also call on the on the federal government to remove cannabis from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, so B.C. could legally regulate the production and sale of marijuana products for personal and medicinal uses. Public hearings would be held to establish rules under the Liquor Control Act permitting the use of marijuana.
It's not a bunch of pothead hippies behind the campaign, Conlin said, using himself as an example of people involved. A former labour council and parent advisory council president, Conlin has been active at his worksites, in his unions and politically over the years.
Asked by one delegate whether this would allow people to walk down the street smoking marijuana, Conlin responded no. Small possession would be decriminalized, but other rules would still apply.
Regulated marijuana might even make it harder for minors to get their hands on it, he said.


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