Pubdate: Thu, 06 Apr 2017
Source: Northumberland Today (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
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.

In a weekend news leak that had the added benefit of diverting
attention from an insipid federal budget, CBC reported 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 scrutiny by a Commons committee, then pass the
uncertain hurdle of Senate signoff.

The sooner legislation is unveiled, the better. Provincial attorneys
general have been chairing their own ministerial and expert groups to
develop provincial regulations, no easy task given they haven't seen
the federal bill yet and pop-up marijuana shops continue to

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 following:
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;
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. In an interview
Monday, Ontario's Attorney General Yasir Naqvi could not say how
Ontario plans to permit sales. Driving is still a big question - how
to accurately tell if someone is impaired from marijuana use. Ontario
has already changed the highway Traffic act to allow those "impaired"
to be charged, not just those "intoxicated." But more science is needed.

The sooner the government clears the haze around its bill, the better.
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