Pubdate: Mon, 19 Jun 2017
Source: Beacon Herald, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Page: A5


With pot legalization about a year away, we can conclude that the
Ontario government is working on a plan. Or at least a plan for a plan.

And yes, the "Legalization of Cannabis Secretariat" exists and,
apparently, is busily holding meetings. With whom, it won't say. But
not the public. Not yet, anyhow.

This doesn't inspire much confidence. Other provinces are puffing
along nicely: New Brunswick is holding public hearings this summer;
Quebec's convening a meeting of experts this month, with draft
legislation in hand by the fall. Alberta's got an entire website
chock-full of information. In other words, many jurisdictions are
talking openly to their citizens about pot.

Meanwhile, "Ontario is engaging with health, public safety, municipal
and indigenous stakeholders and will continue to do so over the summer
months as we develop our regulatory framework," says a vague statement
from the Ministry of the Attorney General sent to the Ottawa Citizen.

So far, the ministry has refused to expand on the details, and, when
the Citizen followed up, merely re-sent the initial statement.
Attorney General Yasir Naqvi also declined to talk to the Citizen; his
people cited scheduling conflicts.

Why so mysterious? This is both disconcerting and disrespectful of the

Governments are under a great deal of pressure to get the new
legalized marijuana regime right. If they don't, the black market will
continue. There are questions to be answered, from where pot will be
sold to how impaired driving will be policed, and the answers to many
of these questions are the responsibility of the provinces. They
should be talking publicly.

In Ontario, a provincial election is scheduled a few weeks before the
federal legislation making pot legal is supposed to be in place. There
ought to be a robust, open discussion here about what legalization is
going to look like, because many voters will cast their ballot at
least in part based on what they think of the province's pot plans.

Discussions are certainly happening in private homes. Families may be
arguing over whether 18 is a good minimum age for legal purchase, or
whether you'll get the keys to mom's car if you use it at all. Yet the
Ontario government can't yet see its way to public dialogue. Maybe an
opposition party will have to start public hearings.

We know the shape of the federal legislation, and we know where
provinces will have to make concrete decisions. So how about a little
transparency, from the premier or from Naqvi? Stop blowing smoke in
our eyes.
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MAP posted-by: Matt