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Victoria council endorses softening nations’s pot laws

By Hempology | April 19, 2002

From The TIMES COLONIST, Friday, April 19th, 2002

By MALCOLM CURTIS (Times Colonist Staff)

Victoria has become the second municipality in B.C. to formally support the
decriminalization of marijuana use and possession for medicinal purposes.

City council Thursday unanimously passed a motion requesting the Federation
of Canadian Minicipalities to lobby the federal government to relax the
laws on marijuana.

The motion was proposed by Coun. Rob Fleming, who said it was designed to
“move Canada away from treating marijuana as a banned substance to a
controlled substance.”

The motion follows a similar statemnet endoresed by the North Vancouver

This is a case where “society is way ahead of lawmakers,” Fleming said.
Many municipalities have expressed the view that fighting medical pot use is a losing
battle, “a waste of police resources,” he said. Arresting people for medical marijuana
use is something police no longer want to do, Fleming said.

His motion was supported by Coun. Pam Madoff, who thanked members of the public
for educating council about the issue.

Several groups of medical users of marijuana, including members of the local
Cannabis Buyers Club, have addressed council on the subject this month. More
than 20 people, some in wheelchairs, with ailments ranging from cancer
to glaucoma, have appealed to council for support on the issue.

Fleming said the federal laws, in theory, allow people to use marijuana
to alleviate medical problems. But the reality is that lawful access to
pot is difficult, if not impossible. Coun. Helen Hughes was cautiously
supportive, approving the motion only after it was clarified to refer to
medical use of marijuana.

But Coun. Denise Savoie said the action is long overdue. “We’ve been caught
in a time warp on cannabis,” she said.

Ted Smith, a crusader for liberalized marijuana laws and a supporter of the
Cannabis Buyers Club, praised council’s action.

“To learn that we have council’s support is encouraging,” said Smith, who is
battling several marijuana charges before the court.

“We’ve started the ball moving that can hopefully move from Victoria to Halifax.”

Smith said he hopes to convince other capital region municipalities to jump on
the bandwagon.

Under the current law, just three dozen people have received federal exemptions
to use marijuana in the Victoria area.

But there are more than 900 members of the buyers club with medical reasons,
certified by a doctor, to use it, Smith said.

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