Recent Articles

Recent Comments

« | Main | »

Victory in Chilliwack!

By Hempology | February 13, 2006

As many of you know, the city of Chilliwack, BC, had considered implementing a bylaw (the “Drug Paraphrenalia and Hyrdroponics Bylaw 2006″) which would have: (1) implemented a license fee of $1000 for “hydroponic” and “drug paraphrenalia” stores, (2) allowed the RCMP to have ultimate approval over whether licenses would issue, (3) forced the stores to keep customer lists complete with name, address, photo id and to turn over those lists to the RCMP. Last Friday, the City Council read the bylaw 3 times in an attempt to push it through quickly. The law requires public input, however, and quick action was organized.

A lawyer was retained by the BC Hydroponic Merchants Association, Jason Gratl spoke up on behalf of the BC Civil Liberties Association and I appeared on behalf of the BCMP and cannabis culture in general. We made the trip to Chilliwack on Monday February 6 to attend the public input session. Three guys in suits, all ready to take aim at this bylaw and the undemocratic and anti-freedom principles it represents! We arrived early and buttonholed Mayor Clint Hames outside the City Council room.

Mayor Hames clearly wanted to pass this bylaw. He began by explaining that his main focus was to keep his city safe and his community safe from violence and the danger of indoor marijuana gardens. Well, he didn’t say “gardens” exactly…he used a different word (I’m sure you can guess what it was). Jason explained that the BCCLA primary concern was privacy and the conscripting of shopkeepers as agents of the police. The Mayor mentioned that the Privacy Commissioner of BC had spoken to him about the bylaw, then went back to his message about safety. I interjected and explained that penalties would not deter anyone and that the BCMP was on his side on this issue – we also want to get rid of indoor suburban commercial marijuana gardens. We want marijuana grown for commercial purposes to happen on farms and in properly zoned industrial areas. It is just that our plan, tax-control-regulate, will actually work. His won’t.

The Mayor disagreed strongly, claiming that down in Washington they don’t have the same problems because the laws are tougher. When I explained that the US Justice Department lists Washington as a top source state for high-potency indoor marijuana and that it was one of the top 10 states for domestic marijuana production in all the US, he just said he didn’t believe it. Later in the conversation, it became clear that he would not be persuaded by logic or facts – to him it appeared to be a moral issue and a personal one; he apparently has a relative whose life was ruined by the “drug culture.”

We then moved into the Council chamber, which was quite full. Representatives from various groups were there to oppose the bylaw. Apparently a weekend campaign managed to get 1000 form letter faxes onto the Mayor’s desk – a great accomplishment. We expected a fight and were ready to go.

Shockingly, however, the Mayor began the meeting by telling us that the City had decided to WITHDRAW the bylaw! He claimed that it was being done because of concerns expressed by the privacy commissioner and a desire to put the bylaw before the BC Council of Municipalities for input and review. I think, though, that the City may just have realized that it had an unwinnable fight on its hands. The public was motivated against the bylaw and there were lawyers ready to hit the courts and litigate. It just goes to show that hard work and a willingness to get involved at the local level go a long way toward making a real positive difference in our society. Thanks to all who contributed to this victory. Together we will make progressive cannabis policy reform a reality.


Topics: Articles | Comments Off

Comments are closed.