Pubdate: Mon, 22 Aug 2011
Source: Langley Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011 Langley Times
Author: Derek Cooke, Superintendent-Officer In Charge, RCMP Langley 


Editor:  The use of medicinal marijuana is a hot button topic for many, and
there is no doubt the issue has the potential to impact on our
community. I am not about to engage in a philosophical debate on the
merits of medicinal marijuana, however, when I read your recent
opinion editorial; "Safe Supply of Legal Pot," (The Times, Aug. 11), I
felt it necessary to correct a few significant and misleading errors.

The editorial referred to last month's raid of a medicinal marijuana
dispensary by the Langley RCMP and stated the dispensary had been
selling " people with valid licences to use marijuana." While I
will not delve into specific evidence gathered during the course of
our investigation, I can say that is not true. Nor do I believe the
dispensary's operator has ever suggested that is the case.

Rather, as indicated on the dispensary's own website, customers only
required a membership card issued by the dispensary itself in order to
purchase marijuana. To qualify for membership a "Practitioner's
Statement" was required, however, this does not satisfy the
requirements and safeguards set in place by Health Canada.

Based on what can be found on the dispensary's website, it

- - There was no requirement that the customer be afflicted with one of
the specific ailments for which medicinal marijuana is legally permitted;

- - There was no requirement that the signing practitioner indicate that
he/she has any specialization, or knowledge and experience relevant to
the treatment of any medical condition for which medicinal marijuana
may be permitted;

- - There was no requirement that conventional treatment for the
customer's ailment had been tried, or even considered; and

- - There was no requirement for the customer to be informed of and
understand the risks associated with the use of marijuana.

The Health Canada application process ensures these issues have been
addressed before an individual can be licenced to legally use
medicinal marijuana.

Perhaps most concerning from a law enforcement and community safety
perspective, there was no process in place for dispensary customers to
have been screened for relevant criminal history or activity.

Your editorial also stated: "There is no specified place where users
can get a safe supply (of marijuana), other than at dispensaries like
the one Caine set up." I don't know what you would consider to be a
"safe supply," however, you are incorrect to suggest there is nowhere
for legitimately licensed individuals to obtain marijuana.

Marijuana is made readily available to licensed users at low cost
(relative to street prices) by Health Canada, with payment being made
by cheque, money order or credit card. Alternatively, individuals can
be licensed to grow their own marijuana, or to have others grow it for

While marijuana may have beneficial properties, it is a drug with
extensive health risks associated to it. This drug is also subject to
significant abuse and criminal activity.

Canada has come a long way in the last decade with regard to the use
of medicinal marijuana, and as with all controlled drugs, legislated
safeguards are in place to minimize potential negative consequences. I
don't know that it is appropriate for individuals or "compassion
clubs" to take it upon themselves to determine whom they think, and
under what circumstances they believe customers should qualify to buy
drugs from them.

Supt. Derek Cooke,

Officer in Charge,

Langley RCMP
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.