Pubdate: Sat, 15 Apr 2017
Source: Daily Observer, The (Pembroke, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Pembroke Daily Observer
Referenced: Cannabis Act:


The Liberal government's pot legislation looks like a handdrawn
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 on to provinces
and municipalities. Yet it doesn't address important aspects of

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:

Civil liberties

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.


In order 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.

Regulation vs. legislation

The government plans to roll out other important details through
regulation, rather than legislation. This was their answer to
questions around packaging, labelling and marketing of legal cannabis.
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

- - Tyler Dawson, for the Ottawa Citizen editorial board
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