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Delta throwback: Marijuana a hot topic for school board

Trustees said they could see no benefit for the public to legalize marijuana
Delta School Board Chair Fred Gingell in 1970.

Let’s head back to March of 1970 when Delta School Board trustees sent a strong message to Ottawa urging the federal government not to legalize marijuana.

Agreeing to send a letter to Justice Minister John Turner, the resolution declared that District 37 “cannot condone the legalization of the use of marijuana and we go on record as opposing such legalization.”
Trustee Jack Smedley said he had concluded a letter calling for public “pros and cons” on the marijuana legalization issue had emanated from Turner’s office.

Board chairman Fred Gingell, however, said he doubted the letter calling for submissions to the minister had come from the minister’s office.

Although trustees voted unanimously on their resolution, some questioned whether it was in their scope to comment.

Gingell added trustees were “in a better position to do something constructive about the whole business than anybody else.”
Trustees also reviewed a report by their drug committee recommending more programs and services for students and parents, especially elementary students.

MP Tom Goode, who would later became Delta’s mayor, at the time said, “the way it looks now, the federal government would never allow legalization of marijuana use to go ahead.”

A few weeks later, more than 70 teachers and principals, mostly from Delta elementary schools, gathered for a forum on drug abuse at Delta Manor School. The forum was one of the committee’s recommendations.

A representative from the Narcotics Addiction Foundation of B.C. at the event said abuse of drugs “is growing in Canada, not just among hippies, but among middle-class adults and college students.”

It was pointed out that while 20 per cent of students in high school had tried marijuana, the figure was not even comparable to those who had used alcohol.