Pubdate: Wed, 20 Dec 2017
Source: Hill Times, The (Ottawa, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Hill Times Publishing Inc.
Author: Betty Unger (Betty Unger is a Senator from Alberta.)


Bill C-45 is horrible legislation which will not achieve its
objectives and should never see the light of day. The Senate will do
its job and thoroughly study the Bill, but Canadians will be
well-served if it is defeated, writes Alberta Senator Betty Unger.

It's difficult to remember the last time the federal government and
the provinces came to an agreement on revenue sharing in a single day.
But that's what happened last week when the feds agreed to give the
provinces 75 per cent of tax revenue generated by the sale of marijuana.

Initially, the Trudeau government was going to share only 50 per cent
of the tax proceeds with the provinces. But when the provinces
protested -- noting that they will carry the brunt of the costs
associated with legalization -- Finance Minister Bill Morneau backed
down. Like mob bosses divvying up the spoils, everyone went away happy
that they were going to get their "fair share" of the latest heist.

The ease and enthusiasm with which the deal was closed reeks of
self-interest. Mesmerized by the lure of tax dollars dangled by the
federal government, the provinces took the bait and bit hard. Rather
than challenging the government's legalization agenda with the hard
questions, they acquiesced without a whimper, thereby selling out the
future well-being of our young people.

Perhaps they believed Prime Minister Trudeau's talking points on
marijuana legalization: We need to legalize marijuana in order to keep
it out of the hands of children, protect the health of users, and
remove the criminal element from the business. Who would not support
those outcomes? The problem is, legalization will achieve none of
them. In actual fact, it will do the opposite.

Consider the experience of Colorado: Prior to the legalization of 
marijuana, youth usage had been in a four-year decline. After 
legalization, this decline abruptly stopped and marijuana usage by youth 
began to rise. Colorado now leads the U.S. in marijuana usage amongst 12 
- -- 17-year-olds.

And it's not just Colorado. Youth usage of marijuana in U.S. states
that have legalized marijuana surpasses usage in those that have not

If this seems odd or merely coincidental, it is neither. Researchers
at the University of Michigan noted that, "Perceived risk for
marijuana has fallen substantially in recent years as the recent
string of states that have legalized recreational marijuana use have
led some youth to believe the drug is safe and state-sanctioned." In
other words, legalization creates normalization which decreases the
perception of risk and results in increased usage.

So what about Trudeau's claim that legalizing marijuana will shut down
the black market and remove the criminal element? It's an attractive
proposition, but there's only one problem -- the police disagree, the
experts disagree and the experience disagrees.

When Joanne Crampton, RCMP assistant commissioner of federal policing
criminal operations addressed the House Health Committee studying Bill
C-45, she said, "There are a number of issues that will need to be
addressed to fight organized crime, including the possibility that the
black market could undercut legal marijuana sales." As for the odds of
eliminating the black market through legalization, she said it would
be "naA/ve to think that that could happen."

Dr. Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy adviser to U.S. President Barack
Obama, told the same House Committee that it is "delusional" to
believe that legalizing marijuana will remove the criminal element.
The black market has not gone away in Colorado, Oregon or Washington
State, which have all legalized the recreational use of marijuana. In
many cases, criminal activity has increased.

The government's suggestion that they can protect public health by
legalizing marijuana is also seriously misguided. There is no such
thing as a safe supply of marijuana for youth. In the words of Dr. Amy
Porath, Director, Research and Policy at the Canadian Centre on
Substance Use and Addiction, "There should be no cannabis use below
the age of 25 if you want to protect brain development."

Trudeau tells us that by regulating growing conditions, chemical
usage, mould, and THC content, the government will be able to ensure
users have a safe, secure supply of marijuana. This is nonsense. The
decision to allow homegrown marijuana defeats these efforts. When it
comes to home grow operations, it doesn't matter what your regulations
are -- the government will never know if they are being followed or

The negative health impacts of legalization don't stop there. You have
the problems of second-hand smoke, exposure to children, impaired
driving, and the fact that smoking marijuana is far more harmful to
your health than smoking cigarettes. All of these issues will be
exacerbated by legalization due to the increased usage which
inevitably follows. Instead of diminishing health impacts,
legalization will be increasing them.

Determining who gets to keep the tax revenue from marijuana sales is
like deciding who gets to keep the tolls collected on the road to
tragedy. Bill C-45 is horrible legislation which will not achieve its
objectives and should never see the light of day. The Senate will do
its job and thoroughly study the Bill, but Canadians will be
well-served if it is defeated.
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MAP posted-by: Matt