Pubdate: Wed, 05 Apr 2017
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
Author: Christina Spencer. For Postmedia Network
Page: A4


This July 1 is Canada's big 150th birthday bash. But July 1, 2018,
could be a more interesting celebration. That's the date, according to
reports, when marijuana might finally be legal.

It has been reported that the Liberal government will unveil its
marijuana legalization bill in the next few weeks. Under it, federal
authorities would take charge of licensing producers and regulating
suppliers. It would set 18 as the minimum legal age for use, though
provinces could set it higher.

Unveiling the bill would be only the start: Justin Trudeau must still
get it through tough scrutiny by a Commons committee, then pass the
uncertain hurdle of Senate signoff.

The sooner legislation is unveiled, the better. Provincial attorneys
general, such as Ontario's Yasir Naqvi, have been chairing their own
ministerial and expert groups to develop a robust provincial
regulatory system, no easy task given they haven't seen the federal
bill yet and pop-up marijuana shops continue to proliferate.

Ontario's priorities in regulating cannabis will be protecting youth
and vulnerable people, promoting health and safety (including road
safety) and prevention and harm reduction. All of that will cost
money, so a good chunk of the anticipated tax revenue from marijuana
sales will be swallowed up quickly.

What else might the federal bill - and corresponding provincial
regulations - look like?

If they follow, as they should, the recent recommendations of the
federal cannabis task force chaired by Anne McLellan, we might see the

* Municipal smoking bans and regulations extended to cannabis and
vaping of cannabis products;

* Plain packaging, and strict labelling rules;

* Tax revenue from cannabis sales split between the federal government
and the provinces, then dedicated to education, prevention and treatment;

* And cannabis not permitted to be sold anywhere near where liquor or
tobacco products are purchased. While some have mused about selling
marijuana via the LCBO, the McLellan task force recommended strongly
against that sort of combination.

Driving is still a big question. Ontario has already changed the
Highway Traffic Act to allow those "impaired" to be charged, not just
those "intoxicated." But more science is needed here.

The sooner the government clears the haze around pot legalization, the
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