Pubdate: Wed, 14 Dec 2016
Source: Barrie Examiner (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016, Barrie Examiner
Author: Cheryl Browne
Page: A1


Canada's Marijuana Task Force gave the green light to the green leaf,

While legislation still must be written and and passed through
Parliament, smokers of the bud were blown away by the federally
appointed task force's recommendation the government legislate the
recreational sale of marijuana to the general public.

"We are super happy here, so glad to see this program is going
forward," said Stephanie Brown, manager of the new Cannabis Supply
Company in Barrie's south end. The store does not have cannabis on
site, but does sell medical marijuana supplies such as vaporizers,
water pipes, cookbooks and educational books, as well as setting up
appointments for clients to meet with cannabis-friendly physicians.

"This is a huge step forward in the right direction. So many people
benefit from it and this will help get rid of the black market," Brown

The federal task force recommends cannabis could be sold in storefront
locations, but it recommends a ban of locating cannabis within stores
selling alcohol and tobacco products, which is a blow to some
provinces, such as Ontario, which had hoped to sell marijuana in
government-owned liquor stores.

The report also recommended tax revenues generated from the sale of
cannabis should be directed toward public education campaigns and
further research on the health risks associated with marijuana

Barrie Coun. Rose Romita, who represents the downtown area, said she'd
like to see the zoning bylaws changed to ensure marijuana stores are
separated by 100 metres, such as Barrie's bylaw for tattoo parlours,
body-piercing parlours, pawn shops and pay-day loan

"We want the downtown to be diverse, we don't want it to be covered in
people coming downtown to get drugs. We already have that problem,"
Romita said. "I think we should legalize it, get the tax revenue and
put that towards education, because people are doing it anyway."

The national task force was led by former deputy prime minister Anne

She said cannabis sales should be legalized across Canada, but
suggested restricting the sale to people 18 and over and allowing a
personal possession limit of 30 grams.

"Our current laws allowed illicit criminal organizations to flourish
in this area," McLellan said during a news conference Tuesday morning.
"Our current prohibition is not working."

The Canadian Medical Association had recommended setting the age at
21, but the task force said higher age limits would simply drive young
consumers into the hands of the black market, something the government
hopes to actively discourage with its push to legalize.

The nine U.S. jurisdictions with current legalized-marijuana sales
have matched the age limit to the drinking age of 21.

A call to Barrie MPP Ann Hoggarth's office was returned by Ontario's
attorney general, Yasir Naqvi, who is speaking on behalf of the
provincial government on the task force's findings.

Naqvi said the province plans to review the report and work
collaboratively with federal, provincial and territorial

"We have been clear the federal government's approach to legalizing
recreational marijuana must prioritize the protection of youth and
vulnerable people, promote public health and safety, and focus on
prevention and harm reduction," Naqvi said.

"Ontarians want and deserve to see that balance," she

Weaved through its 80 recommendations, the task force has determined
Ottawa should impose many of the same restrictions that currently
apply to alcohol and tobacco sales, namely limits on advertising of
cannabis, to discourage use by young people.

Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood said the Canadian Association
of Chiefs of Police has worked closely with the federal government to
ensure the legislation is broad in its regulatory scope.

"Our priority is safety and how this legislation is going to impact
the community as a whole," Greenwood said.

Greenwood said police are hoping to help build the regulatory
framework that would see specific controls in place for the growth,
cultivation and sales of marijuana.

Her other concern is that law enforcement doesn't currently have a
roadside drug test - as they do for alcohol - to determine a driver's
level of impairment.

"We'd need to have roadside testing tools available to us. We use
breathalyzers for alcohol impairment, but we'd need an instrument to
be able to measure the limits of marijuana impairment. What is
impaired (by marijuana)? We don't know what the legal limit is,"
Greenwood said.

The task force noted in its report the government should help develop
a body of research on the effects of cannabis-impaired driving.

Yet, the report did not recommend a set price for cannabis, but
suggested higher taxes on cannabis with elevated levels of
tetrahydrocannabinol - or THC, the chemical responsible for most of
marijuana's psychological effects - to discourage use.

Barrie-Innisfil MP John Brassard said he is not in support of
legalizing marijuana because he believes the public's health has to be
at the forefront of the government's decision to legalize the plant.

Brassard doesn't believe the report goes far enough.

"The task-force report does nothing to answer the impact of health and
safety within our community with respect to how it will be kept out of
the hands of young people and how policing agencies will handle
impaired driving caused by the use of marijuana," Brassard wrote in a
news release.

"I fear that the costs of dealing with those two issues alone will
further stretch police force's budgets, and in turn increase property
taxes, with little to no help from the federal government."

However, Brassard says he does believe in the use of medical marijuana
for health and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) issues.

"I have seen first-hand the impact medical marijuana has had on my
cousin who suffers from epilepsy and I've also heard from many
veterans and their spouses dealing with PTSD.

"Medicinal marijuana has given them a far greater degree of normalcy
in their lives by getting them off the potent and expensive concoction
of pills that have physically and emotionally drained them," he said.
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