Editorial — Drug debates part of a larger picture

The larger debate involving the use of drugs in society — legal, illegal, tested, patented and perhaps somewhere in between.

The debate in Langley City over the number of pharmacies which have set up shop is actually part of a larger debate involving the use of drugs in society — legal, illegal, tested, patented and perhaps somewhere in between.

In Vancouver, council has approved legalizing medicinal marijuana dispensaries. These have popped up in that city on many corners, and because they exist in a gray zone, with medicinal marijuana legal, but only available from federally-approved sellers, the business is flourishing.

In Langley City, council has been unable to limit the number of pharmacies setting up shop. They operate legal businesses, and because many of them dispense methadone, which is a legal drug, some people think there is a link to criminal activity. That has yet to be proven.

However, it is hard to stop dispensing of legal drugs, and using loopholes, bylaws and regulations to try to restrict or choke off sellers usually doesn’t work.

The marijuana issue is part of a large debate — should the drug be legal? Some say it can be legalized and sold in stores with a hefty tax, and bring in more revenue. This approach is being tried in Washington and Colorado, with some measure of success. The product is also age-restricted there, which is important as there is research showing that excessive marijuana use at a young age can affect brain development.

The issue of where to sell medical marijuana will likely be settled by the federal election. Anything other than a Conservative majority government will likely mean a more open approach to marijuana sales. At the same time, Langley City needs to figure out just how to deal with street crime, and decide whether or not it is at all related to pharmacies.

The answers are far from clear-cut.