Pubdate: Sun, 24 Dec 2017
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Sam Pazzano
Page: 10


Senator Tony Dean is quarterbacking the challenging, complicated
marijuana bill come Jan. 31, 2018, when his fellow Senators get back
to their posts.

But he has already armed his colleagues for informed debate amongst
the 38 fellow Independent senators, 34 Tories and 15 Liberals.

"It's not a cold start, we've heard from some 100 witnesses at
parliamentary committees about the nature of cannabis," said Dean in
an interview this week.

"I don't believe the status quo (prohibition) is viable," said Dean,
64, a senator since Nov. 2016.

"Senators are taking their time to get it right."

The illicit marijuana market is enormous - $6.3 billion, the same
value as Canada's wine industry - and the young are Canada's largest
users, said Dean.

"I'm in favour of this bill reducing the corruption of cannabis and
disrupting the existing illicit market," said Dean.

"Cannabis is not without its harms, but alcohol has demonstrated
itself to be more harmful than cannabis," said Dean, alluding to the
staggering number of drunk driving deaths and serious injuries.

Another Independent senator, Andre Pratte, favours legalization but is
proceeding cautiously.

"There are lessons to be learned from the experiences in other
jurisdictions, Colorado and Washington," said the 60-year-old former
award-winning Montreal journalist.

"The present regime is not working. One third of young Canadians are
using cannabis and legalization allows for quality control and
education," said Pratte. "Criminalization hasn't dampened its use."

When asked if he thought about blanket pardons for simple possession
as such states as California is now doing, Pratte responded: "The
government hasn't contemplated that, but I don't know why the
government didn't think of it.

"It's a good question."
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