Pubdate: Wed, 19 Apr 2017
Source: Estevan Mercury (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 Estevan Mercury


Canadians will be able to celebrate this country's 151st birthday by
legally lighting up a joint.

The federal government has introduced legislation to legalize
marijuana by July 1, 2018, fulfilling one of Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau's election campaign promises. But there are still a lot of
questions regarding the details of a legal pot industry.

Canada doesn't have a lot of international precedent to guide it. We
will be just the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to fully
legalize marijuana. It's decriminalized in some parts of the world,
and legal in some American states, but countries as a whole have been
leery about legalizing marijuana.

This country is venturing into a relatively unchartered territory. It
means our legislation has to deal with the price of cannabis, how it
will be taxed, and how it can be promoted and packaged. Who will get
the revenues from the marijuana taxes? Will it merely be the federal
government? Or will the provincial governments get a cut?

Will provinces that have a legal drinking age of 19 opt for a similar
legal age for pot?

One of the biggest issues is related to driving while under the
influence of marijuana. Will there be changes for legislation on
driving while impaired by drug? Local police currently issue a few
charges each year for motorists impaired by marijuana, but you can be
sure those numbers will soar once marijuana becomes legal, and usage
becomes more commonplace.

Police will also need training on how to identify a motorist who is
impaired by marijuana.

The good news is the legislation that was released last week seems to
be fairly restrictive. It will be illegal to sell pot to someone under
the age of 18. It will be illegal to possess more than 30 grams of the

And there will continue to be restrictions when it comes to the sale
of the drug.

If someone wants to possess a small amount of marijuana for
recreational purposes, that will be fine and dandy. But if they want
to sell it illegally, then they're still going to be in trouble if
they get caught.

The attitudes of Canadians have slowly been shifting when it comes to
marijuana. Most now understand the benefits of medicinal marijuana.
And there are more who would back the decriminalization of marijuana.
They think a simple ticket would be better than a charge for dealing
with possession of small amounts of the drug.

Decriminalization likely would be the best option for dealing with
marijuana possession.

It would allow the police to dedicate more time to other crimes, and
it would free up time spent in courts on possession charges. And it's
not as complex as fully legalizing the drug.

We still have a very negative attitude towards hard drugs, and
deservedly so. Most Canadians scoff at the suggestion of legalizing
all drugs. Hopefully we never see the day in which cocaine is legal.

But for better or worse, marijuana will be legal in Canada. We get to
deal with the benefits and the issues concerned with a legal pot
market. Future generations might look at this decision and thank us.
Or they might look at it and wish our government had acted
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