Pubdate: Wed, 15 Mar 2017
Source: North Bay Nugget (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 North Bay Nugget
Author: Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles
Page: A1


'We'd rather take our time and do it right than rush into something
and regret it later'

Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota expects to see legislation this
spring to legalize marijuana.

The challenge, Rota says, is "making sure we get it

"We need to make sure we have it dispensed to places children can't
get to, making sure that only adults can get to it and people of age,"
he said Tuesday.

"That is what is taking the most time right now. I was talking to Bill
Blair (parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Jody
Wilson-Raybould) and he was saying we're likely to have something this
spring. "We'd rather take our time and do it right than rush into
something and regret it later. It comes down to how we regulate it and
how we regulate the distribution"

Blair, the former Toronto police chief tasked with shaping the
legislation, has been travelling across Canada talking with police and
community leaders about the plan to legalize and regulate the drug for
recreational use.

Rota believes legalization will be a "benefit overall," including the
additional tax revenue.

"There are some medical benefits to marijuana and it works well for
those who need it most," he said.

Also, Rota says the legislation means people will no longer have a
criminal record for simple possession.

"I see it often when someone will come into my office," he said.
"They're now in their 40s or 50s. But when they were in their teens or
early 20s, they were busted and got caught with marijuana or something
minor. And suddenly they have a criminal record that follows them
through life.

"We saw it happen during prohibition when people were in possession of
alcohol. Now it's accepted."

Speaking with Postmedia earlier this month, Blair said the
responsibility for determining the regulatory framework and the
environment for distribution rests with the provinces.

"Within our constitution, that's their responsibility," he said.
"Whatever systems the provinces choose to put in place, we want to
make sure it is an effective regime for keeping this out of the hands
of kids, as well as competing effectively with organized crime.

"It really is a decision based on competing values," Blair said. "On
the one hand, we want to protect kids from any potential health harm
related to its use. And on the other, you don't want to (push) this
mass market of young people over to organized crime."

Blair admitted the change will have an impact on local

"I believe we're going to have to ask more of the police, particularly
at the introduction of these regulations, while people learn how this
system will work."

- - With files from Dale Carruthers, Postmedia Network
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MAP posted-by: Matt