Marijuana draws debate

A representative from a medical cannabis dispensary told Vernon council there is a need for standards

Vernon’s elected officials appear reluctant to wade into the issue of medical marijuana.

On Monday, a representative from a medical cannabis dispensary told city council that there is a need for standards within the industry and municipalities should control the number of outlets open and where they are located.

“We should legalize and regulate marijuana but it’s not within municipal jurisdiction,” said Coun. Scott Anderson, adding that only Ottawa can set the terms of medical marijuana.

“Until the federal government decides what it wants to do, we will have problems.”

Mayor Akbal Mund believes the presentation was to provide information only.

“They wanted to let the city know they aren’t operating as criminals,” he said.

Late last year, RCMP officers visited five local medical marijuana dispensaries to “outline our concerns and the potential ramifications related to business practices which do not comply with the current Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).”

In his presentation Monday, Jeff Gaudette, with MMJ Total Health, indicated that the number of dispensaries continues to climb.

“They are popping up in Vancouver and cities across B.C. One shuts down and two open,” he said.

“We have dispensaries in Vernon. Some are in storefronts, some are mobile and some are out of homes and they will keep growing.”

Gaudette said there is a need for outlets to remain focused on the needs of people with medical issues.

“A liquor store will not provide safe access.”

He is also calling for quality and patient care standards and for businesses to follow bylaws, while municipalities should dictate where dispensaries are located and how many exist.

“We’re open for discussion and we want to work with all of the concerns you have as a city,” Gaudette told council.

Members of the RCMP detachment were present during the presentation.