Pubdate: Thu, 13 Apr 2017
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Orillia Packet and Times
Author: Jay Fallis,
Page: A6


Whether or not you have smoked marijuana, you could probably identify
the scent of its smoke. You can smell it everywhere: parks, streets,
concert venues and even, on occasion, the lawns of Parliament Hill. It
has become an unauthorized part of life in Canada.

However, it seems its unauthorized status could soon be changing. In
the wake of a report issued by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization
and Regulation this past November, the Liberal government is expected
to table marijuana legislation sometime this week. So, with the idea
of legalization quickly gaining traction, I talked with Simcoe North
Conservative MP Bruce Stanton to get a better understanding of the

To start, Stanton suggested he was a little wary of the current
approach to legalization. However, he said there could be one
potential positive outcome from such legislation.

"If there is any positive, I would say it would be a move that is at
least taking this distribution and sales of marijuana out of the hands
of (criminals) and putting it into a regulated scenario ... In a
practical sense, this stuff is on the streets. It's out there. People
are buying it. But because it's illegal, it's all underground,"
Stanton said.

By legalizing marijuana, not only can the government regulate the
product to ensure it is safer for consumers; it also has the capacity
to limit profit diverted to criminal organizations. As Stanton later
suggested, this could help to limit more serious criminal activity
such as trafficking.

We also discussed the ethics of the government's capacity to collect
tax revenue from marijuana. Stanton said he doesn't take a positive
view of taxing recreational drugs. However, he did suggest that if
such revenue was to be collected, it would be preferable for the
federal government to spend it in a certain way.

"If we were able to raise some money off somewhat recreational but
less harmful types of (drug) abuse, let's put it into something that
will help people that do lose their way and become addicts, and find a
way to get them back out of that addiction into a better life ahead,"
he said.

Stanton also talked about some of the ways revenue could be spent

"Spending it on disseminating good information on the ill-effects of
(serious drugs), supporting the health system for those who get hooked
on drugs. We have a real shortage of spaces for people to go into drug
rehab," Stanton said.

By legalizing this drug, and managing revenue from the drug in a
certain way, our government could positively impact the lives of
Canadians suffering with addiction, and take meaningful steps toward
combating the use of more serious drugs.

However, upon enactment, legalization will not be problem-free.
Stanton expressed several concerns over determining adequate age
restrictions and dealing with new border security issues. He also
warned of the challenges of monitoring regulations around marijuana
use and driving.

"Alcohol in the bloodstream has a sort of quantitative and known
impact level and (law enforcement) can measure it. So, there is a
fairly easy way to come at that. But that doesn't hold true for drugs
. It is a much different bridge to cross," Stanton said.

Drinking and driving is easier to monitor than driving under the
influence of drugs. Stanton reasonably suggests if this drug is to be
legalized, it is important police be able to enforce the laws that
dictate the limits of its use.

With legalization will come complications. However, it is worth it. By
permitting the consumption of this commonly used, relatively harmless
substance, we have the capacity to better control its use, to limit
the power of criminal organizations and possibly even address more
serious drug use. It seems, with legalization, we have little to lose
and a lot to gain.

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Jay Fallis grew up just outside of Orillia and is passionate about
Canadian politics. He recently graduated with a master's in political
science from the University of Toronto. He can be reached  com.
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