Editorial: Can’t blow aside the issue of marijuana dispensaries

At least now the city has the ability to ensure a safe operation, if not a safe product.

It was a long meeting Tuesday as Penticton city council once again wrestled with the slippery grey issue of medical marijuana dispensaries.

Read more: Penticton gives the nod to marijuana dispensaries

The horns of the dilemma are that on one hand, storefront sales of marijuana, even for medicinal use, are unlawful. On the other hand, dispensaries are setting up in communities across Canada in advance of promised legalization, and RCMP are doing little, if anything to enforce the law.

Instead of adopting a wait and see approach or turning a blind eye to the problem as other communities have, council chose to decided to adopt regulations to controlling how the dispensaries operate, but not what they were selling.

But, when it came to handing out the permits, some councillors balked, realizing they had no ability to decide whether one person or another was qualified to dispense marijuana to treat a medical condition taking on the role of pharmacist and physician.

The decision council came to — giving permits to operations that had already shown a willingness to respect council directives — was probably the best choice they could make.

The issue of medical marijuana dispensaries isn’t going away anytime soon. Ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away, nor is waiting and hoping someone else, like the RCMP, will step in and do something.

The wait for legislation is likely to be a long one. A report is being prepared for the parliament, but developing a policy that covers all the issues is likely to be a long process, as legislators try to cover all the issues.

In the meantime, the city had to do something, since some of the marijuana sellers said they planned to continue no matter what. At least now the city has the ability to ensure a safe operation, if not a safe product.