Pubdate: Sat, 22 Apr 2017
Source: Medicine Hat News (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Alberta Newspaper Group, Inc.
Page: B9


The right prices and levels of taxation must be set. If they're too
low, people might be tempted to overindulge. If they're too high,
criminals will provide cheaper alternatives.

In case you missed it, the federal government has just sown the seeds
for a full-blown social revolution in Canada.

Last Thursday, just before the Easter long weekend started, the
Liberals tabled legislation that will legalize and regulate the
production, sale and use of recreational marijuana in this country
starting in the summer of 2018.

Then, in the blink of an eye and with the flick of a lighter, adults
will begin legally indulging in a previously forbidden - and outlawed
- - pleasure, while an entirely new and legitimate marijuana industry
worth billions of dollars a year will be satisfying those cravings.

All this represents a massive change - Canada will be the first
Group-of-Seven country to follow this complicated route. But the
Liberals are right to do it now and their legislation provides a
promising start - even though the heavy lifting is yet to come.

Ninety-four years of prohibition in this country caused more harm than
it prevented.

In that time, more and more Canadians chose to use a drug that causes
less physical and psychological damage than alcohol, yet many found
themselves caught up in the courts or even jailed.

Meanwhile, although public opinion became more accepting of marijuana
use, organized crime continued reaping the profits from the attendant
black market and police squandered precious resources trying to
enforce what was unenforceable.

Give the Justin Trudeau Liberals credit for their boldness and for not
simply handing adults the freedom to grow, sell and use recreational
marijuana but legal responsibilities if they do.

That's how Canada handles alcohol and tobacco. It's the best strategy
for marijuana, too.

Under the proposed legislation, Canadians who are at least 18 years
old - provinces can set the age higher - would be permitted to carry
and share up to 30 grams of dried marijuana and grow up to four plants
at home for their own use.

The federal government, through Health Canada, would license legal
producers and control the quality of their product. Provincial
governments would regulate the outlets that legally distribute cannabis.

And, in the interests of public health and safety, tough new laws
would deter or punish drugged driving as well as those who want to
provide pot to minors.

So far, so good. But the clock is ticking and vital details must be
worked out.

Health Canada will have to work overtime to ensure there are enough
legal producers to meet consumer demand or else criminals will fill
the void.

The right prices and levels of taxation must be set. If they're too
low, people might be tempted to overindulge. If they're too high,
criminals will provide cheaper alternatives.

The provinces must determine whether private businesses or government
outlets will handle distribution.

Most challenging of all will be the goal of discouraging Canadians
under 18 - who already have some of the world's highest youth rates of
cannabis use - from availing themselves of a seductively legal, adult

In introducing their marijuana legislation, the Liberals are keeping a
major election promise. But the unspoken and most important part of
that pledge is doing the job right.

(This editorial was published in the Waterloo Region Record April 13
and circulated by the Canadian Press.)
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