Pubdate: Fri, 29 Apr 2016
Source: Truro Daily News (CN NS)
Copyright: 2016 The Daily News
Page: 6


The federal government is pushing ahead with plans to legalize 
marijuana and not before time. Health Minister Jane Philpott 
certainly didn't play down the controversial announcement. She chose 
a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York 
regarding drug use and drug-related crime.

The timing was more than coincidental. Minister Philpott chose April 
20 to reveal that Ottawa plans to introduce legislation legalizing 
marijuana in the spring of next year. Her address coincided with 4/ 
20 - the annual day of celebration for cannabis culture lovers, the 
so- called National Weed Day.

Despite Liberal party promises, the speed toward full legalization is 
still a pleasant surprise. Many people thought the government might 
first move toward decriminalization - that full legalization was too 
radical, too quick, too dangerous. But Ottawa decided to move forward 
as promised before and during the federal election last fall.

The legalization issue was really a no-brainer for Justin Trudeau. 
And it was one of the defining moments for the youthful leader of the 
Liberal Party as he sought to stake out a legitimate claim to become 
prime minister.

His pledge to legalize marijuana was unorthodox and politically 
dangerous. It could have backfired and derailed the party's election 
hopes. The Conservative government was relentless in its attacks: 
legalizing marijuana would lead Canadians to cocaine and heroin 
addiction. But it badly miscalculated the views and sensibilities of Canadians.

A majority of Canadians admit they have tried marijuana.

There are already widespread medical exemptions to use marijuana for 
pain control and relief. Licences to grow legal marijuana for medical 
use are nothing new.

It seemed silly in this day and age for anyone to have a criminal 
record for smoking a joint, anymore than having a bottle of beer or a 
glass of wine. In Vancouver, public use of marijuana is widely 
accepted and ignored by police.

Several U. S. states such as Colorado and Washington, have legalized 
marijuana, generating millions in tax revenue.

The Canadian government is setting up a committee to assist in 
drafting marijuana rules and regulations. As Minister Philpott said, 
it's essential the legislation keeps marijuana out of the hands of 
children and profits out of the hands of criminals. The government is 
wise to take the position that legalization is the best way to 
protect the country's youth while enhancing public safety.

It's important that Ottawa gets the legislation right. It must 
severely punish those who provide pot to minors or drive while under 
its influence.

As Minister Philpott was speaking in New York, a new Angus Reid poll 
was being released in Canada. It showed that 68 per cent of Canadians 
feel pot should be made legal, a nine-point increase from a 2014 poll 
asking the same question. The poll found that 64 per cent of 
Canadians feel the legalization of weed will do more good than harm 
in the long run.

Canadians are ready.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom