Pubdate: Tue, 18 Apr 2017
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Benjamin Anson
Page: A9


As an employer and father, Benjamin Anson is alarmed

As an employer and father to three young children, I am alarmed by the
federal government's plan to legalize marijuana.

There is already a deadly opioid crisis underway, but the government
remains fixated on making marijuana freely available. The legalization
of marijuana is a far more drastic, normalizing step than
decriminalization would ever be.

Legalization will encourage marijuana use, thereby putting all
Canadians at risk.

Marijuana is already being openly marketed in anticipation of
legalization. If this statement sounds far-fetched, then look out for
the billboards that already loom over Montreal streets advertising a
website that indicates where marijuana can be bought.

Why does the government wish to legalize the use of a substance that
is sure to cause untold suffering for countless families in the form
of impaired driving accidents, workplace accidents and adverse health

Unfortunately, governments cannot resist the siren song of tax
revenue, so health and success take a back seat and instead the
populace (especially the more addiction-prone segment) is provided
with every opportunity for setback through the enthusiastic adoption
of lotteries, casinos and, soon, the legal sale of marijuana, a
product that can interfere with motivation.

To state that legalizing marijuana will protect our children requires
a ridiculous stretch of the imagination. The criminal element will not
walk away from this massive and soon to be expanded business. If
anything, we can expect pushers to increase their pressure on youth
and enlarge their product offering once the adult share of the market
switches to legal dispensaries. There is also the likelihood that some
adults will use the legal dispensaries as a means of selling or
providing the drug to those underage. Anti-drug and anti-tobacco
efforts are about to be set back by light-years. Ironically, the media
pictures of sterile, hydroponic greenhouses with white-suited
technicians nurturing the pot plants leave the impression that this
emerging industry is preparing a healthful, near-medical concoction.

The opioid crisis shows us that the illegal production and
distribution of a drug is a roughshod process, with little regard for
quality control or even the survival of the customer. This method does
have an upside: it is cheap, giving illegal marijuana producers a
strong competitive advantage. Illegal producers pay no sales or health
taxes; have no storefront overheads in the form of rent, heat,
property tax; and do not incur costs to comply with regulations about
testing, handling and securing of the inventory. These savings will
allow the illegal producers to undercut the legal product, as we see
with illegal tobacco production. The youth market is particularly
price sensitive and will be excellent customers for the illegal
growers and pushers.

An aspect that is worrying the police departments is that there is
currently no reliable test for cannabis impairment. A saliva test is
available, but more work is needed.

Similarly, employers are nervous that their work environment will be
rendered less safe. Many workers use forklifts, cranes, heavy
equipment and dangerous power tools during their shifts. Human
resource departments regularly screen certain vocations, such as
pilots and truck drivers. Should the citizenry be concerned that
workers in many fields could be under the influence of a legal,
mind-altering drug?

The pot shops have been opening across the country, only to be
promptly raided. In a few months, we may have the pleasure of
welcoming these good corporate neighbours into all of our cities and
communities on a permanent basis.

It will not take long before the problems come knocking on all of our
doors. It is but an exponential expansion of the drug trade, to be
followed by heartbreak and recriminations once the addictions,
accidents, and worsening drop-out numbers become apparent.

Canadians who are worried by this plan should speak out now against
this brewing national disaster before it is too late.

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Benjamin Anson is vice-president of Superchute, a Montreal-based 
manufacturer of construction safety products.
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