Pubdate: Fri, 14 Apr 2017
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Referenced: Cannabis Act:


The federal government's proposed bill for legalizing marijuana
expands police powers, sets new mandatory penalties for illegal
possession, and boosts prison sentences for lawbreakers. That all
sounds pretty tough.

But the legislation also downloads some difficult decision-making on
to provincial authorities, and from there on to municipalities and
local police. That part's going to be tougher.

For example: Where will legal cannabis be sold? The 130-page federal
bill leaves this crucial detail to the province. Will it be in your
local LCBO? (Unlikely.) At a corner store but hidden, like cigarettes?
 From some other outlet? Mail order only? And how close to a school or
youth centre can sales take place? About all we know is you can't sell
cannabis from a vending machine.

Another example is the minimum legal age to possess pot. The bill
leaves this up to lower-tier governments, except that buyers must be
at least 18. Given some forceful medical opinions about the effects of
bud on young brains, Ontario faces a tug of war when it sets the final
legal age in this province.

And how about taxation? Will the cash-strapped Ontario government be
able to slap a sin tax on cannabis? Presumably, but the federal bill
doesn't provide much clarity around that. Too much taxation and the
trade goes back underground. This will be tricky for Ontario to balance.

Meanwhile, local police will hesitate to react, with good reason.
There are changes - in this bill on marijuana - around what happens if
they pull over your vehicle and want to test you for alcohol
impairment. At the moment, they're supposed to have a reasonable
suspicion you're driving under the influence of booze. The new bill is
hazy on exactly what will happen in future. Cops will want to be cautious.

Law and order types, though, will still find things to like. If you
sell pot to a minor, you could be put away for up to 14 years. And on
impaired driving, there will be three new offences created, depending
on exactly what is impairing you. The penalties are getting a lot
nastier, too. Also, don't try to take your marijuana across the border.

The federal Liberals have promised to pass this bill by Canada Day,
2018. But so many questions remain unanswered. Nobody inhale, just
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MAP posted-by: Matt