Pubdate: Mon, 18 Sep 2017
Source: Sun Times, The (Owen Sound, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Owen Sound Sun Times
Author: Rev. David Shearman
Page: 4


When I was in high school we had a smoking area. My kids found that
hard to believe, given that smoking on school property usually meant a
trip to the principal's office today. But it's true. We had a smoking
area. And students smoked tobacco and a few other things in the
smoking area.

Teachers in nearby classrooms complained of second hand

Students snickered when we got a whiff of something, not tobacco,
coming from the smoking area. The school office sometimes reeked of
marijuana when students were caught and marched down to the
principal's office.

I was reminded of those days when the Ontario government recently
announced their plans for the legalization of the sale of marijuana.

You probably know the details better and I do, but as I listened to
them, I heard a strong echo of the words advocates of public health in
what was proposed.

Young people are protected. Although public health advocates and the
medical profession wanted the age of majority to be 21, it's 19, the
same as alcohol.

Public health and safety are recognized as important. Police will be
given the tools they need to address marijuana-impaired driving. Sale
will be through up to 150 government controlled outlets modelled on
the model of and run by the LCBO.

Again, these are all part of the proposals of medical and public
health workers in Ontario and Canada.

What is not yet clear is the plan for expanded education and awareness
of the risks of marijuana use, ongoing data collection and much
greater detail around location of sale sites. There will have to be a
lot more consultation, both with community and health care
professionals as well as with law enforcement.

There are many who are critical of the government's plans. Some feel
that regulated private enterprise could do a better job.

I don't agree. As with alcohol, the government regulation meets the
mandate of being socially responsible as well as curbing a "wild west"
approach to marijuana sales.

I would like to see more emphasis on research of the effects on
marijuana and to attempt to explore the anecdotal stories of how
cannabis seems to assist some and not others; how it may be used as a
form of selfmedication in some and become addicting to the point of
damage in others.

I don't have all the answers, but I believe what the government has
given us is a good start, consistent with medical and public health
evidence. I don't believe the naysayers for a moment and recognize
such things are always works in progress. But I can't help thinking of
that horrible, smelly, dirty smoking area at my high school and
smiling. If I went back in time and told my friends back then what we
are doing today, I'm sure I'd be thought to be speaking nonsense.

How far we've come.

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David Shearman is a retired United Church minister in Owen Sound and the 
host of Faithworks on Rogers TV - Grey County.
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