B.C. VIEWS: This is your province on weed

Marijuana is touted as a miracle drug in an unregulated market, with liquor stores touted for recreational sales

With unlicensed marijuana dispensaries popping up in urban areas and thousands of unregulated medical licences for home growing still in legal limbo, the Trudeau government is starting work on its promise to legalize recreational use.

Marijuana was a media darling in the recent election, but meeting in Vancouver with provincial ministers last week, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott found herself preoccupied with issues deemed more urgent.

These include shifting our post-war acute hospital model to community primary care, tackling aboriginal health care needs, pooling pharmaceutical purchases to slow rising costs, and meeting an urgent Supreme Court of Canada directive to legalize assisted dying.

At the closing news conference in Vancouver, Philpott was asked how recreational marijuana should be sold. Licensed medical growers want exclusive rights do it by mail as permitted by the Harper government, another measure forced by our high court. That would shut out the rash of supposedly medical storefronts, which city halls in Vancouver and elsewhere imagine they can regulate.

Philpott said the question is “premature” and federal-provincial justice ministers were dealing with it at their meeting. Ottawa will have a “task force” too.

Vancouver descended into a pot store free-for-all due to benign neglect from council and police, and Victoria isn’t far behind. Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang, a rare voice of reason in the Big Smoke, has protested dispensaries using street hawkers to attract young buyers, and pot stores setting up near schools.

Other communities, more aware of their limitations, have resisted issuing business licences. One recent proposal in the Victoria suburb of View Royal came from a fellow who insisted marijuana extract had cured his cancer. This is typical of claims that proliferate on the Internet, and is one of many warning signs about dispensaries that put up red cross signs to sell pot products with exotic names.

B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake was more forthcoming a few days earlier, responding to a Vancouver reporter who judged marijuana more interesting than his just-announced plan to hire 1,600 more nurses by the end of March.

Lake noted that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is keen to sell marijuana through the province’s monopoly liquor stores. B.C.’s government liquor store union has also endorsed this idea, forming an unlikely alliance with non-union private stores to get in on the action.

“There are public health officials that I’ve talked to who say that the co-location of marijuana and liquor sales is not advisable from a public health perspective,” Lake said. “I think whatever we do it has to be highly regulated, quality control has to be excellent and above all we must protect young people.”

Yes, liquor stores check ID. But the notion that marijuana might be sold next to beer and vodka in government stores deserves sober second thought, and serious scientific work of the kind that has shown damage to developing brains from teenage marijuana use.

Of course all of this urban hand-wringing over pot stores ignores the de facto legalization that has existed across B.C. for decades.

The Nelson Star had a funny story last week about a local woman’s discovery on Google Earth. Zooming in on area mountains, one finds not only the Purcell landmark Loki Peak, but also Weed Peak, Grow Op Peak, Cannabis Peak and Hydroponic Peak.

Whatever the source of this cyber-prank, it could also be applied to other regions of B.C.

For the record, I’ll restate my long-standing position that legalization is the only logical answer. I’ll say the same about other drugs that drive most B.C. crime, but that’s a subject for another day.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey man found guilty in West Kelowna killing of common-law spouse

Tejwant Danjou was convicted of second-degree murder in the July 2018 death of Rama Gauravarapu in West Kelowna

New collective debuts with Crescent Beach show

Nela Hallwas and Lyn Verra-Lay team for ‘Flow’

Former students’ mural showcasing Delta elementary school’s new logo on hold, for now

Ashriya and Karam Purewal painted the spirit logo last spring; formal logo mural delayed due to COVID

Police ask for help to identify suspect in alleged Surrey break-and-enter

Surrey RCMP say two men ‘kicked down the front door’ of the home

Surrey monitoring traffic as vehicles again clog city streets

Compared with city’s 2019 weekly average, deepest volume reduction was in late March with up to 46 per cent less vehicles

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

35,000 doses of fentanyl part of huge Maple Ridge bust

Largest seizure in RCMP detachment’s history included submachine gun, body armour

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read