7 December 2016

A letter to and from Port Coquitlam about marijuana

Letter to the Mayor and Council regarding marijuana dispensaries in Port Coquitlam:

Mayor Greg Moore
Councillor Laura Dupont Councillor Mike Forrest...
Councillor Darrell Penner
Councillor Glenn Pollock
Councillor Dean Washington
Councillor Brad West

re marijuana dispensaries in Port Coquitlam​

​Dear Mayor Moore and Council,

It's time for a stable marijuana dispensary in Port Coquitlam. It's ridiculous and dangerous that disabled people and seniors, often using walkers or riding scooters, have to put themselves at risk of being mugged to acquire potentially unsafe marijuana for medical use.

Whatever the obstacles or prejudices here in Port Coquitlam, it's time to move on. The BC Compassion Club in Vancouver is located adjacent to a residential neighbourhood with many school-aged children. It has operated at this location without significant incident for a decade or more. The point is, it's possible for a dispensary to be a good neighbour.

So, whatever the obstacles, the many disabled and elderly medical marijuana users in Port Coquitlam, myself included, would be mighty grateful if the City would revisit this issue from a health services perspective. Establish a workable policy framework, vet the vendor/s and allow us access to safe, affordable, traceable, marijuana from a dispensary located in a safe, transit accessible neighbourhood. (The current location of Cannabis Culture, for example, is about perfect, in terms of centrality, transit access and neighbourhood safety, at least it would be if they ever fix the bus stop.)

Marijuana is recommended by so many physicians for symptom control because is works. Certainly, my own marijuana use is physician directed. Marijuana makes it possible for me to be active in the community while reducing the amount of allopathic medication, with all it's side effects, that I need. Whatever the City's position on recreational use, blocking local access to safe marijuana for pain and symptom relief is just unkind.

Rhamona Vos-Browning

The Mayor's response:
Dear Mr. Vos-Browning,

Thank you for your email.

The federal government has sole authority to regulate the use of marihuana for medical purposes. The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) spell out the procedures for obtaining medical marihuana and for supplying medical marihuana to qualified patients. Anyone who wants to express dissatisfaction with the current system for dispensing medical marihuana should contact the federal government through its regulatory agency Health Canada. The email address for this purpose is

Municipalities do not have the lawful authority to regulate or license marihuana dispensaries, including those that claim to supply only patients who have qualified under the ACMPR. 

Thank you for taking the time to express your views on these matters.



By all means, write the Mayor and Council to express your support for safe access to medical marijuana http://www.portcoquitlam.ca/City_Government/City_Council.htm

18 October 2016

prayer in Port Coquitlam

Religion in Remembrance Day Ceremony

challenged in Port Coquitlam

The Port Coquitlam Legion is ignoring a local resident’s concerns that its 2015 Remembrance Day ceremony was too Christian.

In a June letter to the Legion, Rhamona Vos-Browning said the 2015 ceremony “left me somewhat saddened.”  He described how despite the “small, diverse sea of people” in attendance, the ceremony “ended with a clearly sectarian closing prayer” and included a blessing “May the Lord bless and keep you.”

If the Legion insisted on maintaining the prayer, Vos-Browning offered to help the Legion find a Humanist officiant, such as one from the BC Humanist Association, to provide a secular invocation too.

Two months later, after following up his letter with several phone calls, Vos-Browning was told by the Legion that the agenda is set by the BC/Yukon Command. But when Vos-Browning spoke to the Command, he was told there are no rules to “force branches to use specific prayers or invocations” and that Command would inform the Port Coquitlam branch of this fact.

Despite this assurance, Vos-Browning has not been able to confirm whether the Port Coquitlam Legion plans to include a sectarian prayer again in its 2016 program.

Mr. Rhamona Vos-Browning said:
My objective is not to embarrass the folk who organize our local event - they put in a lot of time and effort and they do a good job - however, Port Coquitlam is a diverse community and our public ceremonies need to reflect that.
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director of the BC Humanist Association:
Men and women of all faith and none have fought and died for this country. Public ceremonies like those run by the Legion in communities across Canada should be sensitive to this, particularly as Canada has veterans of all faiths and none. Sectarian prayers dishonour the atheists and members of minority religions who have served the country.
In November 2015, Humanist veterans wrote to the Grandview Legion in Vancouver over concerns that its ceremony excluded non-Christians.
Click here for a PDF of this press release

Timeline of Rhamona Vos-Browning’s contact with the Port Coquitlam Legion
June 28Letter sent to Irene Brown, Recording Secretary, Port Coquitlam Legion
August 18Voicemail left for Ms Brown
August 26Message left for Ms Brown with a person
August 29Ms Brown returns the call, says that local office doesn’t have the authority to change the agenda. Refers to Joseph Waugh with the BC/Yukon Command
September 14Voicemail left for Mr Waugh
September 15Mr Waugh returns call, Vos-Browning outlines concern and gets his email address
September 26Email sent to Mr Waugh, including copy of letter sent to Ms Brown
September 27Reply from Mr Waugh
September 30Voicemail left for Ms Brown
October 6Voicemail left for Ms Brown
October 13Voicemail left for Ms Brown

June 28, 2016 letter to Irene Brown, Port Coquitlam Legion
Dear Ms. Brown,
It is in gratitude and respect that I send you this note. Our family immigrated to Canada in 1958. My parents were in their late teens/early twenties during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and were forever marked by the experience. The region where my mother lived had been especially devastated during the occupation and they were starving when the Canadians came, with their chocolate and cigarettes. My parents idealised Canada, and taught their children to love it deeply.

 It is in this spirit that I attend Remembrance Day ceremonies every year. Since moving to Port Coquitlam in 1996 I have been impressed with the organisation evident at our local ceremony.

The 2015 ceremony left me somewhat saddened, however.  The ceremony was, as usual, well attended, with people surrounding the cenotaph well onto the streets. That small, diverse sea of people included children and young families, retirees and elderly from many ethnic, racial and religious origins. So it was a surprise when the ceremony ended with a clearly sectarian closing prayer. As a non-Christian, I felt that the benediction “May the Lord bless and keep you…” was unnecessarily exclusionary at such a public occasion.

In the spirit of recognizing our country’s multiculturalism, if a prayer is to be part of the ceremony, I would ask that it be worded to include people of all faiths and none. Alternatively, if you plan to maintain the sectarian prayer, I would request that a humanist invocation be added to the program.  I would be happy to help you source an appropriate humanist officiant to perform such an invocation.

Best regards,                                                      
Rhamona S. Vos-Browning

September 26, 2016 email to Joseph Waugh, BC/Yukon Command
Dear Mr. Waugh,
Earlier this year I wrote to Irene Brown, Recording Secretary for the Port Coquitlam Legion #133, regarding the use of a highly sectarian prayer to close the 2015 Remembrance Day Ceremony in Port Coquitlam. In her telephone reply, Ms. Brown said she did not have the authority, at the local level, to make changes to the program and referred me to you.

Briefly, my complaint is that the benediction "The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” from Numbers 6:24 -26, is a specifically Christian prayer used at the end of Christian religious services.

Port Coquitlam, like much of British Columbia, is a diverse, multi ethnic, multi faith community. The use of such a specifically Christian prayer at a high profile public occasion is exclusionary to the multi faith/no faith community wishing to honour the people who made such a community possible.
In the spirit of recognizing our country’s multiculturalism, if any prayer is to be part of the ceremony, I would ask that it be worded to include people of all faiths and none. Alternatively, if the sectarian prayer is to be included, I would request that a humanist invocation be added to the program.  I would be happy to help you source an appropriate humanist officiant to perform such an invocation.

While my original letter was specific to my home town, I would be interested in learning the policy of the Royal Canadian Legion BC/Yukon Commission in regards to this issue.

Rhamona S. Vos-Browning

September 27, 2016 Reply from Joseph Waugh
Thank you for contacting the Royal Canadian Legion BC/Yukon Command with your concerns. BC/Yukon Command does not have rules which force branches to use specific prayers or invocations during the Remembrance Day Ceremony. I have informed the Branch 133 Port Coquitlam of this fact, and I recommend that you follow-up with them in regards to their up-coming Remembrance Day Ceremony.

Best regards,

Joseph Waugh