Pubdate: Fri, 03 Mar 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Stew Young
Page: A13


Langford Mayor Stew Young wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau last week about policies on marijuana dispensaries. This is
the text of his letter.

As you are aware, the City of Langford has been one of the
fastest-growing communities within the capital region of Victoria over
the past number of years. With this rapid growth comes many challenges
associated with becoming a regional centre, including the regulation
of cannabis dispensaries. Although many municipalities are struggling
with this issue, I am one of the few mayors within our region looking
for a common-sense and fully compliant approach to the distribution of

I am writing to you today to implore your government to take urgent
action to regulate the distribution of medical cannabis in our
communities by designating Health Canada-licensed producers and
pharmacies as the sole distributors for cannabis. In my view, this is
the only viable way the police can fulfil their mandate to uphold the
law and to protect the public.

I have recently heard that Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the
minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, has started a
cross-country tour to discuss the legalization and regulation of
cannabis. We certainly share your government's goal of legalizing,
regulating and restricting access to cannabis to keep it out of the
hands of children and the profits out of the hands of criminals. In
addition to this, I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the
regulation of cannabis with yourself and or Health Minister Jane Philpott.

I have attached a recent letter from a constituent (which I am sending
along to you, in confidence, with their permission). The constituent
states that within two weeks of your election, they noticed "a sudden,
significant increase in teenagers, 15 years and older, admitting on
confidential medical history forms to using ('medical') marijuana and
now frequently, have the smell of it invade my office … sometimes on
the parent responsible for driving a post-operative patient home."

Clearly, we have a problem. While I'd be happy to outline my concerns
in detail, with yourself or in person with Bill Blair, I suggest the

1. Permit Health Canada licensed producers (LPs) to create storefront
dispensaries to distribute medical cannabis to the patient directly;

2. Permit all LPs to distribute their medically certified cannabis to
legitimate pharmacies; and,

3. Direct Health Canada to establish a certification program for
anyone who dispenses any cannabis product prescribed by a doctor.

Allowing pharmacies to dispense medical cannabis from licensed
producers would undercut the growing number of illegal cannabis
dispensaries popping up all over Canada. In my view, it is extremely
important to have trained, educated professionals safely dispensing
drugs across Canada.

It is my firm belief that these changes would go a long way in
protecting the public from illegal cannabis increasingly coming from
unknown sources - and very likely from criminal elements.

The longer this issue is left in legal limbo, the more difficulties it
is creating in our society. As an example, it has been reported that
we now have duffel bags full of cash moving between Vancouver and
Victoria because dispensaries in both Vancouver and Victoria can't use
the banking system.

I urge your government to move quickly with legislation and/or
regulation that will bring clarity to this issue and thereby allow
legitimate businesses such as banks direction on how to deal with
these ventures. It will also allow insurance companies to insure legal
businesses in the cannabis sector.

Additionally, I strongly believe that once legislation is enacted, all
three levels of government should have access to the tax revenue that
flows from legalized cannabis enterprises. This is clearly the best
way to get organized crime out of the picture and bring billions of
dollars in underground economic activity back into the mainstream economy.

It is municipal governments that are on the front lines dealing with
this issue. The City of Langford has already had a dispensary
illegally set up shop twice, both times raided and closed by our local
RCMP detachment.

Bringing legal clarity quickly to this issue is paramount for our
communities. The longer your government takes to provide clear
direction to Canadians, the greater the opportunity for contradictory
direction. For example, we now have a Supreme Court of Canada decision
allowing marijuana patients to eat products containing THC, we have
dispensaries selling edible products to the public, but we have
provincial health officers who will not grant a licence to any
commercial kitchen using THC or cannabis as an ingredient.

I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to talk to you and your
minister of health about this urgent matter, and I would welcome the
opportunity to meet with Mr. Blair when he makes his way to our area.

Mayor Stew Young Langford
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