NDP agrees changes needed to pot laws
A recent letter signed by four former B.C. attorneys general calling for the legalization of cannabis appears to have support from both sides of the political spectrum in Kamloops.
Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger said he respects and supports the decision by Premier Christy Clark to leave the issue up to the federal government, but personally agrees with the letter.
He compared the fight against marijuana to the battle Americans waged against alcohol in the 1920s.
It’s a battle he believes the country is losing.
“If Canadians want to indulge the way they apparently do, I don’t think we should put them in jail for it,” Krueger told KTW, adding the current laws are playing into the hands of organized crime.
The long-time MLA, who said he’s never smoked pot in his life, said he wishes Prime Minister Stephen Harper would reconsider his government’s position on the issue.
The former attorneys general — Graeme Bowbrick, Ujjal Dosanjh, Colin Gabelmann and Geoff Plant — are calling for the end of prohibition of marijuana and pushing for the taxation and regulation of pot.
Krueger also agreed the province would be far better off if the product was sold through legitimate means, regulated and taxed like everything else.
The letter was sent to Clark and NDP Leader Adrian Dix asking them to take the lead and put pressure on the federal government to change the law.
Krueger said he doesn’t want the provincial government wasting time on the issue, arguing it is up to Ottawa to change the laws.
Kamloops-North Thompson NDP candidate Kathy Kendall suggested the position taken by the four former politicians is “very practical.”
“It’s just time to recognize that is the only sensible position to take,” she told KTW.
She also considered it significant the idea was supported by former attorneys general from both political spectrums.
Though Kendall acknowledged the ultimate decision lies in the hands of the federal government, she said the province can and should take a position in support of ending prohibition.
She argued removing marijuana offenders from the court dockets would help improve efficiencies on an already stressed system.
“There’s all kinds of ways in which it affects us provincially,” Kendall said, adding the majority of Canadians support the plant’s legalization and the laws should reflect the country’s values.
But, her counterpart across the Thompson River isn’t quite ready to embrace the idea in its entirety.
Kamloops-South Thompson NDP candidate Tom Friedman said he supports the decriminalization of marijuana, suggesting criminalizing its use is a waste of public resources.
However, he sees legalization as a different issue.
“I’m not prepared to make a comment on whether legalization is the answer,” Friedman said.
Sian Lewis, the executive director of the Kamloops Society for Alcohol and Drug Services, also known as the Phoenix Centre, believes it is time to start regulating marijuana.
“In some people’s minds that means making it legal, but what I’m saying is let’s get off that argument,” she said.
Her agency provides services for adults and teens battling addictions.
Lewis argued if someone really wants smoke pot, they can find a way to get their hands on the drug, adding enforcement is not working.
She also suggested alcohol is a far more dangerous substance, while the over-commercialization of it is more detrimental to society.