Pubdate: Sun, 16 Apr 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Page: A10


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has kept his promise to legalize
recreational marijuana, so the law will finally catch up with reality.
Now Canadians have a new set of questions and problems to deal with.

The federal government introduced its legislation on Thursday, giving
governments, police, producers, retailers and everyone else involved
just over a year to build a new, legal industry in place of the
long-standing illegal one.

Only a dreamer would think it will be as easy as flipping a switch
from illegal to legal. The fact that the legislation is 143 pages long
hints at the complexity.

Some of the details are being left to the provinces, such as where the
drug will be sold and the legal age. The federal law establishes 18 as
the national age, but provinces can raise it, which would create the
same patchwork we have with alcohol laws.

Will it be sold in government liquor stores or private outlets? The
City of Victoria has bet on the latter, with its licensing and zoning
regulations already in place. But Mayor Lisa Helps says the city can
easily switch to liquor stores, if the province decides to go that

Complex as those administrative issues are, they pale in comparison to
the many unanswered questions. Impaired driving is one of the biggest,
which is why tougher driving laws are part of the package.

Just as with alcohol, pot messes with your ability to do difficult
tasks such as driving. But unlike alcohol, no test similar to a
breathalyzer exists.

Experts are working to approve devices and establish levels of THC,
the active ingredient in marijuana, but it's not easy because of the
way the body handles THC and the way it can be stored in blood and
fatty tissues.

Those are only some of the medical issues. Is marijuana a gateway to
more harmful drugs? The argument is a heated one, but governments and
Canadians need more scientific evidence. With recreational and medical
marijuana, research must be an important part of this new world. There
is too much we don't know.

One thing we do know is that inhaling the smoke of burning organic
material is always harmful, regardless of whether it's tobacco,
cannabis or just about anything else.

Doctors also insist that marijuana is harmful to the developing brains
of people in their teens, which is one of the main reasons that the
government is touting its new law as a way of keeping pot out of the
hands of young people. Good luck with that, if alcohol is the model.
However, there is some good news about teens from studies in
Washington state, which found no increase in pot use among older teens
after legalization. One study did find small increases in use among
younger teens.

The recommendation of one of the scientists: If you want to keep pot
out of the hands of kids, make sure it doesn't become too cheap. Teens
are more price-sensitive than adults. Another conundrum for regulators.

Trudeau has opened the door to legal marijuana - and to a host of
problems we must solve.
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MAP posted-by: Matt