Last week’s closure of a marijuana dispensary in Langford illustrates a big difference between our communities and the City of Victoria, where such shops outnumber Starbucks outlets.
Victoria, in which one can find a so-called medical marijuana dispensary in virtually any neighbourhood, has chosen to turn a blind eye to the proliferation of these retail outlets. They believe that the day will eventually come when pot becomes legalized and regulated. Victoria council also controls its own municipal police force and can make that choice.
West Shore municipalities, on the other hand, have so far held the view that until legislation is enacted to change the Criminal Code of Canada and legalize this controlled substance, setting up shop to sell cannabis products will be a non-starter.
We don’t doubt that one day, maybe not even during this federal government’s term, that the operation of these businesses will be treated like selling alcohol – tightly regulated and taxed (although booze is a provincial jurisdiction).
But for now, it doesn’t make sense to put the police in the difficult position of having to enforce most laws but ignore others.
Langford Mayor Stew Young made it clear that his municipality has no interest in allowing freestanding dispensaries. He further stated that if the federal government allowed pharmacies, or other Health Canada approved distributors, to sell marijuana products for health-care purposes, they would be legal in Langford.
The fact that a company managed to put a sign up and prepare to begin operations speaks to the cloudiness of the federal government’s policy on this matter. Not only are municipalities anxious to receive some level of direction on future policy, potential operators of what may one day be regulated and appropriately taxed dispensaries deserve to be offered the same consideration.
We don’t see the complex marijuana distribution issue being settled anytime soon, but we would all appreciate the federal government putting together some kind of interim plan for this file.