Pubdate: Wed, 05 Apr 2017
Source: Nelson Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Black Press
Author: Wayne Stetski, MP Wayne Stetski, NDP - Kootenay-Columbia
Column: View from the Hill


There was not a room in Kootenay-Columbia big enough to accommodate
the 3000+ people that took part in the Town Hall I hosted on Marijuana
Legalization in Canada. Conveniently most of the participants were
sitting comfortably in their own living rooms taking part over the

Since being elected in 2015, I have received hundreds of questions and
comments about Justin Trudeau's election commitment to Legalize
Marijuana. Since the Prime Minister's cynical retreat from his promise
of democratic reform, it is difficult to know how many more promises
the Liberal government might break. With that being said, we know that
the issue of Marijuana Legalization is a complex one; it will
undoubtedly have effects on our health, our local economies, and our
law enforcement.

The current state of limbo has created chaos for municipalities,
police forces, businesses and recreational cannabis users.  In
November 2016, a government task force released A Framework for the
Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada, but until we see
legislation a very problematic grey area remains.

On March 14th I hosted a telephone town hall; the intent of the town
hall was to bring people together from all corners of
Kootenay-Columbia to share their questions, concerns, knowledge and
opinions about the legalization of cannabis for recreational use. I
also wanted to prepare myself to represent the diverse views of the
riding when the government brings forward legislation, which could
happen as early as this spring.

I assembled a panel consisting of the Mayor of Nelson, a drug and
alcohol addictions expert, and a Kimberley marijuana retailer. I also
invited the RCMP to take part, but they respectfully declined. A total
of 3,378 people from across Kootenay-Columbia joined us on the call to
listen, ask questions and share their opinions.

We heard concerns about the effects of second hand smoke and impaired
driving. There were questions about possible effects on life insurance
and the age limit for legal use. There were a number of comments and
ideas about how the tax revenue could and should be used. Questions
and comments also touched on about how people who have gotten criminal
records for simple possession would be pardoned and whether or not
cannabis is a gateway drug.

Another of the themes focused on who could and should grow and sell
recreational cannabis. The panelists were able to respond to most of
the concerns, and referencing the task force report provided insight
on some of the other questions.

Since the town hall I have heard from many constituents who were
grateful for the opportunity to hear from their neighbours and other
communities across the riding; many have spoken on the value of having
broad community conversations.

I really appreciated the thoughtfulness of the participants. Even
though this is an issue that can be divisive, all participants engaged
in the conversation in a respectful and productive matter. Many folks
who were not comfortable with or able to share their thoughts on the
phone have since emailed them to me, so I can take them forward to

If you were not able to take part in the town hall, it was recorded
and can be found on my website and YouTube channel for your reference.
As with all federal issues, please contact me with any feedback.

We will have to wait and see what the federal government's next steps
are when it comes to Marijuana Legalization. Many questions will
remain unanswered until we see legislation come forward. The input I
have received will inform my advocacy on behalf of the residents of
Kootenay-Columbia when we see that legislation in Parliament.

Remember that the Liberal Justice Minister continues to say that until
the law is changed, it is illegal to be in possession of cannabis and
you can end up with a criminal record for using it recreationally.
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MAP posted-by: Matt