Some Coquitlam councillors may see the medical benefits around marijuana use, but don't count Terry O'Neill as one of them.
The first-term councillor disagreed with the wording of a letter sent by the city to the federal government that called on Health Canada to clarify and streamline rules around medical marijuana access regulations.
The point O'Neill took particular umbrage with was contained in the last paragraph of the letter, which stated that council "generally concluded there is a legitimate medical and societal benefit to be derived from controlled access to medical marijuana."
"It's hard for me to agree with the statement that there are societal and medical benefits to controlled usage - I just don't go that far," O'Neill said Thursday.
O'Neill pointed to two recent studies to further his point. A Duke University study suggested teens who use marijuana run the risk of a permanent drop in IQ. Another study that appeared in the medical journal Cancer linked marijuana use to testicular cancer.
"It's a very complex problem and I know it is. I don't know what the solution is," O'Neill said. "I'm just saying that I wasn't quite comfortable with the statement that was made in that letter."
Signed by Mayor Richard Stewart and written on behalf of all councillors, the letter was drafted in response to the issue of marijuana dispensaries in the city, and the legality of people growing and distributing marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Council ultimately banned unlicensed marijuana dispensaries in the city and passed regulations on the location of federally licensed grow-ops.
In an interview Thursday, Stewart said he could have worded the letter differently, and took a different view on the role of medical marijuana.
"I believe that there are many conditions that it can help in, that it has a net benefit for some conditions," he said.
"My read of the majority of our citizens is that they probably think there is a legitimate role in some circumstances for this."