Pubdate: Mon, 10 Apr 2017
Source: Gulf News, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2017 Transcontinental Media Network
Page: 4


It was a bold statement: "We will legalize, regulate and restrict
access to marijuana." The 2015 federal Liberal election promise caught
Canadians' attention and attracted the votes of many who supported the
long-overdue legalization of marijuana.

Many people believe that smoking a joint is no worse than having a
beer. Plenty of Canadians - even prime ministers - have tried it.
Polls indicate most people want legalization. Medical marijuana use
has smoothed the drug's acceptance.

The government is finally ready to table legislation to legalize
marijuana by July 1, 2018. But why the wait? Do we really have to wait
another 18 months for proclamation, when 60,000 Canadians are
convicted each year for simple possession or personal use?

The Liberals' delay is perplexing. A task force made 80
recommendations last December. A former Toronto police chief is
guiding the legislation. It's time for the government to get its act
together and provide clarity for municipalities, police forces and

The government made an equally bold promise on electoral reform and
then backed down. The list of other broken election promises is
extensive, including failure to bring about a return to home mail
delivery, and tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses.

So it's refreshing now to see the federal government poised to proceed
on at least one key promise.

No doubt the federal government will take all the credit but dump most
of the problems onto the provinces. Ottawa will control the broad
strokes of securing the marijuana supply and licensing producers,
while the provinces will control the price and how it is bought and
sold. All done, of course, with the appropriate federal and provincial
excise taxes applied.

But pro-marijuana advocates are right - the Liberals don't deserve all
the credit. Marijuana became an election promise because the public
demanded it. The Liberals didn't fight campaigns for decades, march
and protest, face arrest and suffer ridicule or worse, to win this

Still, the rationale for legalization makes sense; current laws trap
too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor,
nonviolent offenses. The government wants to keep marijuana out of the
hands of children and the profits out of the hands of criminals. There
will be stronger laws to punish those who operate a motor vehicle
while under the influence of marijuana.

But between now and when pot actually becomes legalized, perhaps
Ottawa should ask police forces to ease up on their zeal in laying
charges for simple marijuana possession and use.

Meanwhile, Canadians who want to grow their own - each household will
be allowed four plants - still have time to fit in a horticultural
refresher course.

And for politicians suffering headaches and anxiety as they struggle
with implementing the legislation? Perhaps their pain can be eased
with a few joints - of the medicinal marijuana variety, of course.
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