Pubdate: Mon, 24 Apr 2017
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Dan Albas
Page: A8


Last week, the Liberal government introduced the much anticipated
marijuana legalization bill, technically known as Bill C-45, The
Cannabis Act.

First let me state that the Liberals clearly campaigned on legalizing
marijuana and I have heard from several citizens who indicated this
was one of the primary reasons they voted Liberal in the last
election. I mention this point as I believe the Liberal government
does have a democratic mandate to move forward with this

 From a quick overview, this bill takes a similar approach I used with
my wine bill that removes federal barriers, but still allows provinces
to enact and adopt their own rules and regulations with respect to
marijuana legislation.

I will credit the Liberals for using this approach as it allows
provinces to individually respond to this legislation in whatever
manner they believe is most workable.

So what is proposed? Bill C-45 proposes a number of measures related
to the legalization of marijuana. These include that cannabis can only
be sold to citizens age 18 or older although provinces can raise the
legal age limit, if desired.

It is further proposed that adults would legally be able to possess up
to 30 grams of legal cannabis in public, and to grow up to four plants
per household at a maximum height of one metre from a legal seed or

However it should also be pointed out that until the new law comes
into force, cannabis remains illegal in Canada, except for medical

With the proposed legalization also comes new proposed changes to
penalties and enforcement with significant changes to impaired driving

A few examples of this include allowing the police to demand that a
suspected driver provide an oral fluid sample on demand. New
regulations would also be introduced with respect to restricting the
THC level per millilitre (ml) of blood, not unlike current
restrictions related to blood alcohol content.

There is also a provision to allow for mandatory roadside screening,
even if an officer does not have a suspicion of drug or alcohol use.

Prison sentences of up to 14 years are also proposed for illegal
distribution or sale of marijuana. It is also proposed that penalties
of up to 14 years in prison may result for giving or selling marijuana
to minors.

These are just a few of the many changes that are proposed in Bill
C-45 with respect to penalties and enforcement.

As is often the case with any proposed new legislation there are still
many unanswered questions, a few of these include concerns from
landlords as typically tenant insurance will be void if marijuana is
grown in a rental property.

Border crossings are another topic as the United States may refuse to
allow entry to a citizen who has used marijuana.

Policing and identifying legal marijuana from illegally sourced
marijuana is also a concern as criminal organizations could
potentially undercut legally sourced marijuana with higher-THC-content
black-market cannabis.

There is also a concern that many cannabis vendors currently defying
the existing laws may not comply with the new regulations and
restrictions, thus ensuring that enforcement remains a challenge,
which will burden many municipal and provincial police forces.

My thoughts? Many details need to be worked out by provinces for a
more detailed understanding of how the full implementation will occur.

One concern I do have is that the Canadian Medical Association, has
stated that even occasional marijuana use can cause serious negative
psychological effects on brain development up to the age 25. As a
result of this medical evidence, I believe a substantial public
education campaign will be needed to better educate citizens on the
mental health risks that marijuana legalization presents to children
and young adults.

I welcome your comments and questions and can be reached  or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative member of Parliament for Central 
Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola which includes Summerland and Keremeos.
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