Pubdate: Fri, 22 Sep 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Kristy Kirkup
Page: B6


Opposition: Feds need to act before legalizing pot

OTTAWA - Opposition parties are asking why the federal government did
not consider sooner how to deal with three United Nations drug
treaties after they learned Thursday the issue is expected to go
before the cabinet this fall.

Officials in Global Affairs Canada have been reviewing options
available to cabinet on how to deal with the treaties - the 1961
Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on
Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Convention against Illicit
Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances - given the
government's plan to legalize marijuana by July 2018.

The treaties, which require cannabis be outlawed, were flagged as an
issue long ago, Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O'Toole said,
adding the question should be put to Parliament before cabinet makes a
final call.

"They cannot ignore these international treaties," he said speaking
outside the House of Commons. "We'd at least like an indication of
which route they intend to follow."

The treaties are another example of how the government is moving too
quickly with its pot plan, he said.

"Doctors are telling them to slow down, law enforcement, chiefs of
police are telling them to slow down, premiers are telling them to
slow down and the international community is probably wondering what
we are going to do with these treaties," O'Toole said.

NDP justice critic Alistair MacGregor also wondered why a government
decision hadn't come sooner.

"Here we are in the month of September," he said in an interview.
"This legislation was introduced as of April of this year and, of
course, the work on the cannabis file started far before that."

Both the NDP and the Conservatives raised the issue in the House of
Commons last spring, he said.

"We were given a non-answer officially in question period, and I've
had discussions with a few Liberal MPs off in the corridors who
themselves were puzzled as to why there was not a clear direction from
the government at that time," he said.

Adam Austen, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia
Freeland, said the government has been working with international
experts, including at the United Nations, to determine the best course
forward on Canada's international commitments.

In August, department officials visited the United Nations office on
drugs and crime in Vienna to discuss the treaties and marijuana

The 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs requires
a year's notice for withdrawal, while the other two treaties would
require six months' notice.
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