Pubdate: Sat, 04 Mar 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Luisa D'Amato
Page: B1


Marijuana will soon be legal in Canada. But what does that mean for
the safety of our teenagers?

The simple election promise made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, one
which he shows every sign of keeping, turns out not to be simple at
all. What kind of restrictions should there be around selling weed?
Will it be tested so that we can be sure it's safe?

What should be the minimum age to buy it? Who's going to sell it? If
the government taxes it, what should happen to the money? And what
about impaired driving?

These are all questions that Bill Blair, former chief of police in
Toronto and now the Liberal MP who is parliamentary secretary to the
minister of justice, thinks about all the time.

Blair's job is to help bring in legislation to make marijuana legal.
To gather perspectives, he is travelling across the country talking to
citizens, health experts and police.

A few days ago, he came through this area, where he met with Waterloo
Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin.

For Blair, legalizing pot is a way to keep adolescents

A stunning 40 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 45 report that they use

And "kids in Canada are using this drug more than in any other
developed country in the world," he said.

What he is hearing from people across the country is that "we need to
do a better job of protecting our kids," he told me.

In that case, it makes sense to legalize it.

As long as pot remains illegal, the still-growing teenager who buys a
bag of weed is in danger from more than just getting high.

When he or she makes that purchase, a line has been crossed into the
world of organized crime.

Our kids doesn't really know what's in that bag, or what it will do to
them. They don't always know who they're dealing with, either.

And they don't always have the maturity to know when they're in danger
during these transactions.

Legalizing the drug, Blair says, means that its production will be
regulated and licensed. It will be inspected, taxed and, most
importantly, taken out of the hands of criminals.

There remains plenty of controversy about the proposed minimum age to
buy pot.

The federal government is working with the proposal that there is a
minimum age of 18 for recreational marijuana use.
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