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

Marijuana dispensaries have popped up in urban areas

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

 

Just Posted

Fees ensure patients have access to parking at SMH, FHA says

Fraser Health Authority hasn’t heard yet from city hall about pay parking at Surrey hospital

Surrey memories: How the ‘IGUISBCSIR’ Facebook page became a hub for anecdotal history

Former Whalley resident Wes Mussato launched the group in 2011, 11 years after he’d moved to Ontario

OUR VIEW: Fraser Health should park the Surrey Memorial Hospital parking fees

On Monday, city council approved free parking, for two hours at a time, on the streets around SMH

UPDATE: Surrey RCMP say missing 17-year-old girl located

Police say Rachel Friend was last seen at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 19, near the 14900-block of 81A Avenue

Three-team trade brings another goalie into Surrey Eagles’ nest

BCHL team ships Chase Stevenson to Trail and acquires blue-liner, goalie

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

731,000 Canadians going into debt to buy prescription drugs: UBC

Millennials and those without private coverage were more likely to borrow money

Pot users, investors need to be vigilant at Canada-U.S. border

U.S. authorities say anyone who admits to having used pot before it became legal could be barred

Shirtless stranger loomed over couch and started stabbing, bloody B.C. murder trial hears

Colin John pleads not guilty as trial opens in 2016 Chemainus murder case

Late 2019 too long to wait for ridesharing: B.C. Conservatives

“While the rest of the world is embracing this transportation revolution, B.C. is only now staggering slowly toward legislation on a business model that’s been mainstreamed for over a decade in other jurisdictions.”

ICBC warns shoppers of the high-accident season at mall parking lots

Over 150,000 accidents happened during the holiday season last year

No deal in sight: Canada Post warns of delivery delays into January

Union holds fifth week of rotating strikes as both sides remain apart on contract negotiations

COLUMN: Higher interest rates will slow B.C. economy after ‘unusually robust’ show

Jock Finlayson is executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Business Council of BC

Jason Aldean, Old Dominion to headline Merritt’s Rockin’ River concerts next summer

Four-day music festival at Coldwater River from Aug. 1 to 4

Most Read