09/21/2015 18:03 EDT | Updated 09/21/2016 01:12 EDT

U.S. lawyer moves from lobbying for pot laws at home to urging B.C. politicians

VANCOUVER — A Seattle lawyer who helped spearhead a campaign to legalize marijuana in Washington state is urging British Columbia politicians to lobby for pot laws that accommodate recreational users.

Tonia Winchester says that while drug policy is not provincially set she's wants Union of B.C. Municipalities delegates meeting in Vancouver this week to demand change at the federal level.

Winchester worked for a citizen coalition that used Initiative 502 in the 2012 general ballot to empower the state to allow legal possession of small amounts of cannabis.

She says Canada in some ways is on the forefront of progressive marijuana policy because of its medical pot laws, and suggests the rules could be easily shifted for recreational users.

Winchester says Vancouver's move to regulate medical pot dispensaries despite criminalization means the city is uniquely poised to be a model for legal reforms in Canada.

B.C.'s municipal politicians voted at their 2012 convention to lobby Ottawa to decriminalize pot and study the benefits of taxing and regulating cannabis.

The Canadian Press