Pubdate: Sat, 12 Aug 2017
Source: Brandon Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017, Brandon Sun
Author: Tyler Clarke


Initially slated to address the national opioid crisis, the majority
of questions addressed during Friday's roundtable discussion centred
on the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire and Conservative Party of
Canada health critic Rachael Harder headed the roundtable discussion
at the Trails West Inn, whose question period quickly pushed aside the
opioid crisis, which hasn't impacted Brandon as heavily as it has some
other areas of the nation.

There were 2,458 opioid-related deaths in Canada last year, of which
24 were in Manitoba.

While opioid remains a concern anywhere, Brandon Police Chief Ian
Grant clarified that the main drug of "serious concern" at the moment
locally is crystal meth.

Housing First co-ordinator Kris Desjarlais supported this assessment,
later adding, "The clients that we have the worst results with are the
ones struggling with crystal meth."

Local mother Kim Longstreet, whose son is addicted to crystal meth,
said after Friday's meeting that the city's lack of a detox centre for
those struggling with drug addiction is a serious gap in services
she'd like to see addressed.

She's hosting a public meeting at Brandon City Hall on Sept. 20 at 7
p.m. in order draw attention to this shortcoming.

But, those attending Friday's meeting were more intent on discussing
the proposed legalization of recreational marijuana under Bill C-45,
which still carries a great number of unanswered questions, despite it
expecting to take hold by next year.

One of Harder's main criticisms was its provision that youth people
may carry up to five grams and not be prosecuted. "Is it OK or is it
not OK for our youth to possess," she asked.

Grant said that he has additional concerns about this as it relates to
what they do with marijuana once they seize it from youths, asking
whether they will be expected to return it to the youth afterward,
since a charge would not be laid.

Ambiguity around where funding for the costs associated with
legalizing recreational marijuana remains of concern to Maguire, who
pledged to do what he can to seek answers on his return to Ottawa next

He said that he's concerned that costs will be downloaded by the
federal government onto the provinces and municipalities.

Grant affirmed Maguire's concerns during Friday's meeting, explaining
that the Brandon police department will have to train more members as
Drug Recognition Experts when legalization comes into play.

Testing people for drugs in cases such as impaired driving is "very,
very complicated," he said, repeating the words "complicated" and
"complex" a number of times in addressing the gap in knowledge that
many people -police included -currently have in addressing the problem.

The department currently sends people to Arizona to train as Drug
Recognition Experts, which he said takes up to month's time and is
"not cheap."

While Desjarlais argued that there are already people consuming
marijuana and that legalization would not drastically increase the
number of people doing so, Grant said that he remains concerned about
an influx of marijuana users once it has been "normalized" through

Recognizing that Friday's meeting only grazed the surface of what
issues may arise with the legalization of recreational marijuana,
Maguire has scheduled five more public meetings on the topic for this
month. Meetings will be held:

* Aug. 20, 7 p.m. at the West End Community Centre;

* Aug. 21, 3 p.m. at the Holland Community Hall;

* Aug. 21, 7 p.m. at the Killarney United Church Hall;

* Aug. 22, 7 p.m. at the Deloraine Mountain View Country Inn;

* Aug. 23, 7 p.m. at the Virden Legion Hall.

Anyone interested in learning more about the proposed legalization of
recreational marijuana, or to weigh their insights or concerns into
the mix, is encouraged to attend. Maguire said that he plans on
relaying his findings in Ottawa when the House of Commons resumes
their session next month.
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MAP posted-by: Matt