Pubdate: Fri, 14 Apr 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: David Reevely
Page: A2
Referenced: Cannabis Act:


Proposed law doesn't recognize hard fact governments can't control
growth of plants

Justin Trudeau campaigned on legalizing marijuana as if he thought it
was a good idea. Instead we're getting the most grudging piece of
legislation since the Paul Martin Liberals legalized same-sex marriage
with the Supreme Court's gun to their heads.

The law proposed Thursday is a steaming turd of a bill that doesn't
acknowledge the hard fact that governments cannot effectively control
the growth of plants.

This has been the crippling problem with pot prohibitionism from the
very beginning: Marijuana is easier to produce than drinkable booze,
certainly easier than smokable cigarettes. You don't need to know
chemistry, buy special equipment, even invest much time. You can grow
it in a terracotta pot in a backyard, under lights in a basement,
hidden in a cornfield. Actual grass is harder to cultivate than
"grass," as long as you aren't such a stoner you forget to water it.

Yes, you'll be allowed to grow pot plants for yourself under the new
legislation and "share" what you grow with other adults, 30 grams at a
time. This is quite a bit of pot - the same weight as a small bag of
chips. And you'll be able to buy commercial marijuana from licensed
growers through provincially regulated stores. But you won't be
allowed to sell any marijuana you've grown yourself, which is
precisely the act governments everywhere have been unable to stop no
matter how hard they've tried.

Partial legalization will complicate enforcement: Some marijuana
leaves will be legal. Some marijuana leaves will be illegal. Will we
be able to tell where they came from by looking at them? How will
police know? How much court time will be spent on these questions? And
why does anybody care?

To mitigate the law-enforcement problems created by the new bill, the
government is increasing police powers.

As it is, police are supposed to have grounds to pull a driver over,
and then specific reason to suspect a driver has been drinking before
demanding a breath sample. Under the Liberal bill, police will require
grounds to pull a driver over, but once they have they'll require no
additional justification to take breath to look for alcohol or spit to
look for marijuana. Except that mass RIDE checks are legal, so police
will be able to demand breath samples from anybody they feel like
demanding them of.

The government says it wants to "reduce litigation regarding whether
or not the officer had a reasonable suspicion." Demonstrating
reasonable grounds is just such a pain, you see.

What does that have to do with marijuana? Nothing. But the Liberals
are amending the law to deal with stoned driving so they're sticking
this in while they're there.

Smearing more mess around, the Liberals are leaving virtually all
questions about regulating pot retailing to the provinces. They had an
expert panel - led by former health minister Anne McLellan - advise
them on this legislation and the panel said it's a bad idea to allow
marijuana to be sold alongside alcohol for a bunch of vague reasons.

Smoking up and drinking together is supposedly more dangerous than
either on its own, though "there is little research to confirm that
there is a direct correlation between co-location and co-use," the
panel admitted.

There are so many liquor stores that allowing them to sell marijuana
will make marijuana widely available and might lead people to believe
governments condone pot-smoking, the panel warned. Which either makes
very little sense, in places where liquor sales are privatized, or no
sense whatsoever, in places like Ontario where the government is the
main liquor purveyor. Liquor can actually kill you with an overdose.
It's a poison a lot of people find fun, but it is really a poison. The
government supposedly sells it because it's the only entity that can
be trusted to dispense such an evil substance.

But anyway, the feds are going to let provinces decide where marijuana
can legally be sold, punting the McLellan panel's advice on this
entirely. Could be corner stores, could be government stores, could be
in industrial wastelands, could even theoretically be nowhere.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has mused about selling marijuana through the
LCBO. After the feds released the legislation Thursday, Attorney
General Yasir Naqvi emitted a long mushy statement about studying it
and working with partners "to develop a responsible approach that
aligns with their legislative framework." In other words, Ontario has
no idea what it's going to do.

Considering what a mess we've made of alcohol sales here, where the
single most important question is what makes the provincial government
the most money, there's every reason to expect us to mess pot up, too.

Never mind whether government should try to keep adults from getting
high. It can't. The drug war failed, is failing, will continue to
fail, and the state embarrasses itself by fighting it. Which, under
the federal Liberals' proposed legislation, the state will continue to
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