Pubdate: Mon, 25 Sep 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: John Gormley
Page: 7


Canada is nine months away from fully legalizing marijuana as police
agencies and provinces ask for more time on impaired driving and other
enforcement issues. But in Justin Trudeau's world, taking time is not
part of the equation.

A read of the Liberal government's background documents on cannabis is

Mantra-like, it repeats at every opportunity that Canadian youth - who
have among the highest rates of marijuana use in the world - are going
to be protected and prevented from smoking dope because legalization
will result in stringent regulation, prohibition for kids and a steady
diet of educational and awareness campaigns.

It's debatable how well youth will be discouraged from doing something
when it's fully legal for everyone else. If alcohol is any example,
don't bet on teen marijuana rates falling anytime soon.

The other theme is that legal adult possession of cannabis will
prevent profits from illicit pot sales "going into the pockets of
criminal organizations and street gangs."

The Trudeau government reiterates that "not later than July 1, 2018"
adults living in Canada will be able to:

* Buy fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil, plants and seeds for home
cultivation from government-regulated retailers or, where not
available, directly from federally-licensed producers online

* Publicly possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis

* Share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis and cannabis products with
other adults * Cultivate up to four plants (not exceeding a height of
one metre) per household

* Prepare varying types of cannabis products (e.g., edibles) at home
for personal use, yet edibles are still to be regulated.

As part of regulating growers and manufacturers of cannabis, the
federal government also promises to set potency limits and standard
serving sizes as well as "tracking cannabis from seed to sale in order
to prevent diversion to the illicit market."

So, who is actually going to benefit from all of this? Most people
don't smoke weed, so it won't mean much.

In 2012, Statistics Canada estimated 3.5 million Canadians had used
marijuana during the past year. One unscientific survey estimates an
additional 900,000 people might try weed once it is legalized.

One area that is less clear but full of anecdotal observations is the
recent explosion of so-called medicinal marijuana use. Health Canada
notes a tripling in the past year of registered medical marijuana
users, now numbering more than 130,000.

Given the plethora of ailments for which people claim they get relief
from cannabis and how easy it is to become a registered user, it's
difficult not to believe that some of the use is recreational and was
done because of mail order access and the ease of home

While the federal government will establish and enforce cannabis
standards, provincial governments will control many of the local
retailing rules.

All today's user has to do, after legalization, is keep the supply
chain of their unlicensed illicit product and once it's in their hands
who's to know where it came from? It's unlikely the law will require
bills of sale for everyone's 30 grams.

These challenges in the practicality of cannabis laws may also explain
why the federal government harps on the illegality of anyone selling
or supplying to underage kids, yet children aged 12 to 17 will be
permitted to possess up to five grams before any charges can be laid.

The tangled web the Trudeau government is weaving deserves a closer
look and more time.

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John Gormley is a broadcaster, lawyer, author and former Progressive 
Conservative MP.
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