Houghton discusses drug issues along with ordinance

HOUGHTON — The Houghton City Council approved allowing the existing dispensary to continue to operate as the city works to write an ordinance compliant with the new national policy. While the city focuses on the ordinance, council members expressed concern about whether marijuana was the most pressing drug issue.

Councilman Buck Foltz said the focus on marijuana was misplaced, compared to opiates.

“We have 64,000 people die a year in this country because of narcotics,” he said. “I can’t remember the last time somebody died from medical marijuana.”

The Veterans Affairs is doing research into marijuana for treating post-traumatic stress disorder, which it is finding more useful than the narcotics currently in use, Foltz said.

Councilman Daniel Salo said he would feel bad for people who use marijuana medically to lose a local facility.

“I know from the news that it’s being used for certain illnesses, and it’s helping,” he said. “I would hate to pull that rug out from under people. But I understand there’s other instances where it’s being abused, and there’s trouble with it.”

Councilwoman Rachel Lankton said a friend of hers moved to Colorado a year and a half ago to treat his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a degenerative disease which has no cure.

“He needs the medical marijuana just to stay comfortable,” she said.