Pubdate: Fri, 20 Jan 2017
Source: Langley Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Langley Times
Page: 10
Author: Troy Landreville
Referenced: A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in
Canada - The Final Report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and


With the release of a 106-page federal task force report, the possibility
of legalizing marijuana inches closer to reality

Legalizing marijuana in Canada - once passed off as a pipe dream - appears
to be gaining traction.

And in the wake of a 106-page report drafted by a federal task force on
legalized recreational marijuana, advocates aren't just blowing smoke.

The study containing more than 80 recommendations gives shape to a Liberal
promise to the legalize recreational pot consumption and sales, with
safeguards in place to restrict youth access and choke off the illicit
market that fuels criminal enterprises.

The task force is recommending storefront and mail-order sales to
Canadians 18 years and older, with personal growing limits of four plants
per person.

Headed by former federal Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan, the
report also notes that recreational marijuana should not be sold in the
same location as alcohol or tobacco, and that production should be
monitored with a "seed-to-sale tracking system," to prevent diversions to
the black market.

It also leaves retail pot sellers, who have defied the criminal law to
open medical marijuana "dispensaries," well positioned, especially in
cities like Vancouver that have already regulated them.

"I very much expect those dispensaries to continue to transition into the
fully legal system as this goes forward," said dispensary owner Dana
Larsen. "The question is where we get our supply from. I'm not opposed to
buying cannabis from licensed producers if our current suppliers can
become licensed."

Langley businessman Randy Caine hopes the task force's recommendations
will open honest dialogue.

Caine, 62, is the founder and owner of three HEMPYZ Gift and Novelties
shops and also ran a Langley medical marijuana dispensary.

He opened his first HEMPYZ store in 2008 and expanded to a second outlet
in 2011, both in Langley, before adding a third location in White Rock in

"It's more the decriminalizing (of pot) rather than the legalization; I
think that's something that we really need to understand right away,"
Caine said. "What they've determined, even within (the context of) harm
reduction, is we need to look at these things... as a social health issue.
For me, that's the most relevant issue that's come forward with this task

Caine said "decriminalization is what we've done now, which is really
quite wonderful."

"It's shifting the whole paradigm and thought," Caine added.
"Criminalizing somebody (for possession of cannabis) also leads to the
dehumanizing of people. We're now able to look at it (marijuana) in more
of a humanizing way, which is how are we going to make it better for
people than criminalizing, which will make it worse for people. So it's a
tremendous paradigm shift."

Caine said he's been a marijuana user most of his life, "which has meant
that I've been an outlaw for 50 years of my life."

His hope, seeing that these terms are now "so clearly defined," is that
municipalities - including both the City and Township of Langley - will be
able to move forward with drafting regulations in the form of bylaws and
local controls.

"I think we're moving in the right direction," Caine said. "I'd like to
believe that, socially, there's some consensus that prohibition or
criminalization has not benefited anybody."

Caine enthusiastically promotes public consultation, in the form of
initiatives such as forums and online questionnaires.

"This is going to create an opportunity to create binding regulations that
will actually be better for the community," Caine said. "Criminal
sanctions haven't worked; financial sanctions, that's what keeps corner
store (merchants) from not selling cigarettes to kids. Not that they're
going to go to jail, but they're going to lose their store."

To those who argue that legalizing pot will make another harmful drug
accessible, along with alcohol, Caine has this to say: "It's always been
accessible, but the access people have had has been through criminal
association. Whether you believe, rightly or wrongly, if a person ought to
be using, what this is going to to do is resolve a lot of social ills, not
just for the user but for the non user. It has tremendous relevance for
all of us in our communities."

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris called the
report "comprehensive," adding that the framework it outlines for
legalizing cannabis in Canada will have many ramifications for B.C.

"We will take time to thoroughly review it and the 80 recommendations
within it," Morris said.

"First and foremost, we will approach our review with a public health and
safety lens."

Morris said the B.C. government's foremost concerns are about keeping
cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, curbing drug-impaired
driving and addressing any "implications that legalization may have for
our continued efforts to end gun and gang violence on our streets, which
is largely driven by the illicit drug trade."

The minister noted that Canada has an unprecedented opportunity to pioneer
national cannabis legalization while better protecting people under 18,
those who consume cannabis for medical and other reasons, and other people
from the potential implications of that broadened access.

Liberal MP John Aldag (Langley City-Cloverdale) said Canada's illegal
marijuana trade is a $6 billion, "perhaps higher" industry.

"The whole premise behind this is to take that cash out out of the hands
of organized crime and to legitimize a substance that as we know in B.C.
is everywhere in our communities," Aldag said.

Aldag pointed out that Canadian teens have the highest use of marijuana
consumption in the westernized world.

"So the sense is, by actually legitimizing it and putting better controls
in place, we'll be able to make it more difficult than it is right now
(for teens to access it)," Aldag said.

Another aspect, Aldag noted, is with regards to the illegal marijuana
trade, nobody really knows the level of THC or the amount of contaminants
that's being added to the pot.

"There will be some quality controls in the adult recreational market," he

Potential legislation will also streamline and clean up the medical
marijuana industry, Aldag added.

Conservative MP Mark Warawa has concerns about the study.

"The report and the recommendations are based on politics and not what's
good for country," said Warawa, the MP for the Langley-Aldergrove riding.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) shows even occasional use of
marijuana can cause serious negative psychological effects, Warawa said.

He also opposes setting the legal age of marijuana possession and use at 18.

"Why do that? Well, political reasons," Warawa said.

The study recommends a personal possession limit of 30 grams, which Warawa
says is excessive.

"How much is 30 grams? Thirty grams is 60 joints. So the government is
saying you you can be 18 years old and walking around with 60 joints
that's worth $300, $400 in your pocket and that being legal. That's very

Warawa added, "I don't understand why the government would want to
encourage an 18-year-old to walk around with 60 joints, smoke some, sell
or share lots, and then drive a car. It appears the government doesn't
care about the health consequences on our youth or on public safety of
those driving a car."
- ---
MAP posted-by: