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

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

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Holger Schwichtenberg and his son Philip talk in the barn of the 150-acre Schwichtenberg farm. This farm is one of many throughout B.C. that support more than 12,500 jobs across the province in the dairy industry. (Contributed Photo/B.C. Dairy Association)
Agassiz dairy farm a model of care for environment, animals, and family

Farm is part of a dairy sector centred in the Fraser Valley, supporting 12,500 jobs province-wide

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Most Read