Pubdate: Wed, 19 Apr 2017
Source: Prince Albert Daily Herald (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 Prince Albert Daily Herald
Author: Ralph Goodale
Page: 5


Dear editor,

If your objectives are to protect public health and safety, keep
marijuana out of the hands of minors and cut illegal profits flowing
to organized crime-then the law as it stands today has been an abject

Law enforcement agencies in Canada spend an estimated $2-3 billion a
year trying to fight pot, yet Canadian teenagers are among the
heaviest users in the western world. And criminals walk away with $7-8
billion every year in illicit proceeds. We have to do better.

 From the very beginning, health and safety objectives have been in the
forefront of our approach to cannabis. The new legislation we
introduced last week reflects that-to do a better job of protecting
our kids and fighting crime.

We have benefited from the thorough, balanced and thoughtful advice of
an Expert Task Force which gathered the best available data, medical
and legal input, the experiences of other jurisdictions around the
world and the views of a vast array of Canadians. Our proposals are in
line with their recommendations.

The new law would create a strong framework for legalizing, strictly
regulating and restricting the use of cannabis:

Only adults (18 years of age and older) will have legal access to the
product through an appropriate retail framework, and sourced from a
safe and well-regulated industry, or grown in small amounts at home
(i.e., a maximum of four plants in any one residence).

Provinces will be able to set a higher minimum age or a lower home
limit, if they deem that appropriate.

It will be legal for adults to possess, use and share (with other
adults) up to 30 grams in public.

Commercial producers of cannabis will have to be federally-licensed
and security cleared. Strict product safety and quality standards will
be required. Mail order distribution will be allowed, but generally
retail operations will be under provincial jurisdiction to regulate.
Municipalities will be able to enact local bylaws reflecting community
preferences (e.g., where cannabis is produced or consumed).

Serious criminal penalties will apply to all those operating outside
this framework, with a strong focus on illicit production and
trafficking, those who try to exploit children and youth, and
drug-impaired driving. Importing and exporting cannabis will also
remain illegal (unless exceptionally authorized for medical or
scientific purposes by Health Canada).

For a young person (under 18), it will be an offence to possess, use
or share marijuana. Prosecutions will be governed by the Youth
Criminal Justice Act. Criminal charges will not be laid where the
amount involved is under 5 grams, but provinces could create
"ticketable" offences to deal with such small amounts.

Promotion, packaging, labelling and display will be tightly controlled
to ensure factual accuracy and prevent appeals to young people.

The new law will be accompanied by a strong public education campaign
to explain the risks and dangers associated with the use of pot,
especially by young people, and to warn against irresponsible
behaviour at any age.

In tandem with Canada's new legal framework for cannabis, the
government is also renovating the law dealing with impaired driving of
all kinds.

Beyond a vigorous effort to raise public awareness about the
deadliness of such reckless conduct, we are providing law enforcement
agencies with clearer laws, better technologies (including new
roadside oral testing devices), stronger and more expeditious
procedures (including better access to blood tests), more training and
other resources, and tougher penalties to deal appropriately with
offenders-and to keep Canada's roadways and communities safe.

Our entire legislative package is now before the House of Commons. For
more detailed information about all our proposed measures with respect
to cannabis, as well as impaired driving, please go to:

To date, I am pleased to see encouraging reactions from the Canadian
Centre on Substance Abuse, the Canadian Automobile Association,
professional organizations representing nurses and pharmacists, the
Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Mothers Against Drunk Driving
(MADD), many prominent academic authorities and others.

We believe our proposals represent the best approach to promote health
and safety, protect our kids and combat crime. But they also represent
very big change.

Something this large and transformational needs to be managed with
care. We are anxious to continue working with provincial, territorial,
municipal and private sector partners to achieve a successful and
orderly transition to the new regime. Our target is July of next year.

In the meantime, the existing law (as deficient as it has been) needs
to be respected. This is not a free-for-all.

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Safety
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