Pubdate: Thu, 14 Sep 2017
Source: Moose Jaw Times-Herald (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 The Moose Jaw Times-Herald Group Inc.
Author: Sarah Ladik
Page: A10


Province turns to citizens for consultation on how marijuana should be
sold in Saskatchewan

Love it or hate it, legislation that legalizes pot in Canada is

The provincial government launched a survey last week, seeking the
public's response to questions ranging from where and how marijuana
should be sold, to a minimum age for users, and priorities when it
comes to enforcement and education. These are some of the top concerns
for users, sellers, legislators, and law enforcement alike.

"The survey is definitely a step in the right direction," said Shaun
Dean, advocate and organizer of Moose Jaw's most recent 420 event in
April. "It'll get some people aware of things that are going on and if
they have any concerns, or if they want to have their say, this is
their day to have their say."

Dean argued that marijuana is more akin to the kind of medication you
can get in a pharmacy than it is to hard drugs like cocaine. He also
said that when it comes to addictive properties, it has nothing on
cigarettes and alcohol.

"I used to try quitting my other drugs that I would partake in, and I
would suffer severe DTs (detrimental tremors). My body would get sick
from not having that substance, like cigarettes," he said. "I first
started off smoking a cigarette. When you first start, you get high.
That, to me, was the gateway drug. That and alcohol."

The CBC reported earlier this week that Ontario has become the first
province to announce its plan to move forward with

It will be sold through the province's liquor commission and will be
regulated in a similar manner to alcohol, with users being over the
age of 19, though with the added restriction of not being allowed to
consume it outside of a private residence.

Chief Rick Bourassa of the Moose Jaw Police Service has been part of
the group of top officers from across Canada consulting on this matter
for well over a year. He said their concerns have been heard and are
being addressed, but at the end of the day, they have no idea what the
demands on their resources will be when roll-out begins.

"One that we hear about all the time, which is a very challenging one,
is impaired driving. Ensuring that people are not driving under the
influence of this substance," he said, adding that there is a huge
amount of work being done on ways to identify and measure this kind of
inebriation. "Let's make sure we're not increasing the number of
serious collisions or fatalities, but have processes in place for us
to detect and prevent that."

Another top concern, from a policing perspective, is keeping organized
crime away from the market. The price point for the drug is a critical
factor in this.

Furthermore, while the police should not be actively involved in
regulation, they are by and large the first responders in the event of
an emergency of any kind, including overdoses or bad interactions. A
model of production and distribution that regulated what and how much
people are going to get when they buy cannabis is important for
consumers and the people serving them alike.

While the common phrase bandied about for this process is
legalization, there is a significant difference between this and
decriminalization. The former essentially means that the product or
substance is unregulated, able to be bought and sold on the free
market. Decriminalization involves making something legal, but
regulated - generally by a provincial government when it comes to
Canada. Dean is in favour of decriminalization.

"That isn't a bad thing, because then we do have the rules set out for
the businesses that are going to be distributing it, and we do have
the tax dollars that we're going to earn off it," he explained. "You
know that could be the way out of deficit in my eyes, because it's
very lucrative."

Bourassa did not come down on one side or the other, but did say that
he anticipates a drop in violent crime when this legislation takes
effect. "That criminal factor, there's a lot of violence that happens
over territory, money, markets, so my anticipation - fairly
well-informed - is that we'll see a decrease in violent activities,"
he said.

"There really isn't any evidence of an increase in violence in that
way, or domestic violence issues or anything like that. Our bigger
issues will be that driving piece, and where danger is presented that
isn't necessarily intentional violence."
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