Pubdate: Fri, 14 Apr 2017
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Ian Mulgrew
Page: A4


The face of legal marijuana in Canada remains veiled in spite of the
legislative dance Thursday by a chorus of federal Liberal cabinet ministers.

Accompanied with strident rhetoric about risks to kids and the abject
failure of the Drug War, the government reassuringly proposed ending
the near century-old pot prohibition with new tough criminal laws
widening the impaired-driving net and "strict" regulations targeting
those who exploit or entice youth with cannabis.

For instance, an 18-year-old selling a reefer to a 17-year-old could
conceivably be facing 14 years in prison.

The legislation penalizes possession that exceeds the personal limit
by small amounts and includes sentences of up to 14 years imprisonment
for an illegal distribution or sale.

Activist Jodie Emery, a.k.a. the Princess of Pot, labelled the suite
of laws: "Prohibition 2.0. Criminalization continues."

Supposedly - together with yet-to-be determined advertising
restrictions and other constraints on the weed - the legal regime will
protect juveniles, among the biggest users of pot, and rob organized
crime of $7-8 billion.

As of July 1, 2018, if the government's legislative agenda can be met,
from coast to coast, adults will be able to possess 30 grams (about an
ounce) of dried pot and to grow up to four plants below one metre in

How that will be policed is anybody's guess and the actual nuts and
bolts of legalization remain a mystery: Where cannabis will be sold,
how much it will cost, how much it will be taxed, who will receive the
windfall and how it will be spent are unknowns.

The provinces and territories will authorize and oversee the
distribution and sale of cannabis, subject to minimum federal
conditions, according to the Liberals.

If some jurisdictions want to hike the age to mirror alcohol
restrictions, that will be OK. In Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec,
18-year-olds can buy and consume alcohol but in the rest of Canada the
age limit is 19.

What legalization will actually look like on the street will emerge
from the outcome of inter-governmental talks on pricing, taxation and
local regulation.

Marijuana production, distribution or possession outside the
authorized medical marijuana program remains illegal until the new
laws are in place.

"This must be an orderly transition," Public Safety Minister Ralph
Goodale insisted during a news conference with a handful of cabinet
colleagues after the bills were tabled.

"It is not a free-for-all."

It will, however, be problematic - there are large differences from
province to province to territory in public opinion about the
acceptance of recreational pot and the readiness to establish retail

In jurisdictions without a regulated retail framework by next year,
cannabis would be available online from federally licensed producers
with secure home delivery via mail or courier, Ottawa said.

That is a boon for the 40 or so firms currently authorized to sell
medicinal marijuana.

For years the governing B.C. Liberals have dodged questions about
legalization, claiming B.C. Bud was a federal issue. Those days are

The federal government envisions provinces and territories, together
with municipalities, tailoring laws and bylaws and enforcing them
through the usual range of tools such as tickets. That is what will
ultimately define legalization.

The feds say these new rules may include: more restrictive limits on
possession or personal cultivation, including lowering the number of
plants or restricting where cannabis may be cultivated; establishing
zoning rules for businesses; restricting where cannabis may be
consumed; and amending traffic safety laws (e.g., providing for
24-hour licence suspensions for adults or zero tolerance for young

One thing is for sure - anyone who was worried that lawyers were going
to lose work with the end of the prohibition can breathe easier.

They'll still be in big demand.
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MAP posted-by: Matt