To the editor:
The City of West Kelowna, following similar bylaw enforcement actions in other Okanagan communities, is opting to close their medical cannabis dispensaries prior to recreational legalization. What puzzles us, as patients that utilize these responsibly operated local businesses, is that local politicians fail to recognize that recreational cannabis distribution, regardless of whatever system is eventually adopted, is fundamentally different than the goods and services provided through medicinal dispensaries.
Simply stated, you don’t go to a party store to treat cancer or epilepsy. Yet, that basic bit of common sense remains lost to these politicians. From a humanitarian perspective, how does one justify denying access to clinically tested, professionally packaged medicine to a patient?
Equally baffling is the belief that, by closing dispensaries, cannabis will not be available in our communities. With the advent of responsible, self-regulated dispensaries came the best system of control to cannabis access. Certainly, far superior to the near century of prohibition and law enforcement. Under prohibition, cannabis use, amongst Canadians, has become common. Enough so, as to cause a rational, change in policy in how to best manage its legal use.
As we inch toward recreational legalization, a growing number of police detachments are refraining from prohibition enforcement. Many Crown counsel are choosing to not pursue charges. Judges, more and more, are making known their impatience with the irrationality of giving otherwise law-abiding citizens a criminal record for something that will, shortly, be legal. The RCMP aren’t taking these steps. It’s local councils. Whatever their stated agendas might be, closing dispensaries is not in the best interests of local citizens. It puts completely unregulated cannabis back on the streets and denies access to local patients.
If local governments want responsible control and a meaningful share of the potential benefits flowing from cannabis legalization, their best chance at success is through working with the flourishing, pre-existing industry through regulation and taxation.
Mark Conlin, Peachland
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