Pubdate: Mon, 07 Apr 2003
Source: Surrey Now (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc., A Canwest Company
Author: Tom Zytaruk
Bookmark: (Methadone)


The public will have its say Monday on a controversial bylaw aimed at 
controlling Surrey methadone dispensaries.

City officials say the proliferation of methadone dispensaries in Whalley 
has contributed to increased crime in the area and accuse the provincial 
government of failing to properly monitor and control its methadone 
maintenance program.

Surrey has already boosted business licence fees for drug stores whose 
primary trade is the supply of methadone to recovering heroin addicts from 
$195 per year to $10,000, a move that is being challenged in the courts.

Last month, council gave preliminary approval to a bylaw that would require 
pharmacists to keep a registry of methadone patients and give police access 
to those lists. The new bylaw has come under fire from doctors, pharmacists 
and civil libertarians who call it an invasion of privacy.

The city says some dispensaries let methadone patients take home quantities 
of the drug without a proper prescription from a doctor, a violation of the 
program rules. City solicitor Craig MacFarlane told council methadone is 
being illegally sold or traded on the street for other drugs.

Council has invited the public to say its piece on the bylaw at a special 
meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

On Friday, city officials met with representatives of the provincial health 
ministry, the local health authority and the colleges representing doctors 
and pharmacists in a last-ditch attempt to find a solution.

"The municipality shouldn't have to do this. We don't want to go down this 
road," Coun. Dianne Watts said of the registry bylaw.

"We need them to come up with a plan on how to help us deal with the issue."

If the provincial authorities come up with such a plan council won't go 
ahead with final approval of the controversial legislation, Watts said. The 
bylaw is a pressure tactic designed to force the province to act.

"We want to ensure the people who have the tools to enforce are doing the 
job. Then we won't have to do this. We're not interested in knowing who is 
on methadone or in restricting people from getting their methadone."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager