Pubdate: Fri, 14 Apr 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Tyler Dawson, for the Citizen editorial board
Page: A7


The Liberal government's pot legislation looks like a hand-drawn
roadmap of how marijuana will be legalized, instead of the efficient
GPS system it should be. It offers tougher criminal penalties in some
cases. It expands some police powers. It downloads a lot of
responsibility to provinces and municipalities. Yet it doesn't address
important aspects of legalization.

In short, legislators know what they want to do: protect children and
reduce illegal sales of pot. How they're going to do it, well, details
are either hazy, missing or highly debatable.

Here are three outstanding issues:


This bill ought to be a victory for civil liberties, but it slips in
an important challenge to them by attempting an overhaul of
impaired-driving protocols. It eliminates the need for a police
officer to be reasonably suspicious that a driver has been drinking
before making the person take a breath test. (Currently, while an
officer can pull you over for any reason, he or she has to have some
grounds for alcohol testing.)

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says she's confident this change
is constitutional. But the measure is particularly troubling
considering that, in many cities, racial minorities are pulled over

Meanwhile, the bill doesn't lock down the scientific question of true
drug impairment, though it talks about penalties corresponding to
various THC levels found through saliva tests.


To eliminate the black market, the price of legal marijuana must be
low enough to undercut the sale of illegal cannabis. Yet the
government had little to say Thursday about the tax structure it
proposes. This will be explained, it said, "in months ahead." So the
Liberals are offering essentially no information on one of the most
important aspects of legal pot sales.


The government plans to roll out other important details through
regulation, rather than legislation - their answer to questions about
packaging, labelling and marketing. Bill C-45 gives the government the
power to regulate this.

So we know that while the legislation will prohibit packaging that's
appealing to youth, no one can yet say whether that means plain
packaging, or some colours, or what. The government did manage to say
cannabis won't be sold through vending machines.

There are other big questions. Hopefully, one day, the haze will
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt