Pubdate: Tue, 06 Feb 2018
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Ed Whitcomb
Page: 7


Provincial patchwork isn't a bad thing for Canadians, writes Ed

Many Canadian politicians are tying themselves in knots over pot,
begging the federal government to extend the July 1 target date for
legalizing cannabis use.

But many of the so-called problems they cite are molehills, needlessly
being turned into mountains.

Let's look at some:


It will become legal for about 25 million Canadians to smoke pot as of
July 1 - but it will remain illegal for those under 18 or 19.

This means that enforcement should require a fraction as many police.
That will include administering road tests, as it is illegal to drive
dangerously or when intoxicated. Finding better ways to detect
dangerous driving is always desirable and work on that must always
continue anyway.


Then there is the question of where to store your marijuana. Teens
already are left alone at home with liquor, dangerous medicines and
other noxious substances. And they can buy pot now, so locking up your
legal weed will hardly prevent them from smoking.

And danger to pets? Dog owners spend good money buying pets and
protecting them from harm; they're not about to let Rover kill himself
munching their valuable pot plant.

As for home growers, they'll have a limit of four pot plants. Adults
can legally keep thousands of bottles of wine at home. What is the
point of limiting them to four pot plants - especially since consumers
can still buy more pot from a store?


Here's another question: What about grow-ops that are not connected to
organized crime? The solution, if this is even a problem, is to treat
them like wineries and micro-breweries.

Speaking of which, why is selling cannabis restricted to special
stores in Ontario? Any store that sells liquor or tobacco should be
able to sell pot. People buy liquor and tobacco in different stores,
then consume them together; they buy liquor and pot in different
places and consume them together; and they will continue doing so
after July 1.

Outside Canada, in some provinces and in duty-free stores adults with
kids in tow buy tobacco and booze, teenagers wander past the forbidden
products, and there are no problems.


Buyers and sellers always figure out the right price. Governments will
get it wrong, which is why this issue is wasting so much time and energy.

Speaking of mistakes, a number of governments made the wrong decision
about marketing, namely, to get involved.

Liquor, tobacco, and drugs are marketed privately in Canada and the
world over with no problem. The same can be done forpot.

As to packaging, that shouldn't be a complicated issue: Governments
already regulate the packaging of dangerous materials.

There are good reasons why rules should be different in different
jurisdictions. Some will do things better and can be copied. Different
provinces have different cultures, which is why countries such as
Canada have federal systems of government.

If these "problems" are actually new, real, soluble and relevant, then
they certainly cannot be solved by July 1 this year. Or July 1, 2019
or July 1, 2028. A perfect nanny state can never be created and the
attempt to do so explains much of the hand-wringing over legalizing

Instead, let's redefine these alleged problems as the molehills they
really are, make the best decisions possible, accept that not everyone
will be satisfied, forget about being a model for the world, be
prepared to make adjustments as they become necessary and get this

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Ed Whitcomb has a PhD in administrative history, made his career as a
public servant, and is the author of "Rivals for Power, Ottawa and the
Provinces." His short histories of all 10 provinces cover their
unfortunate experiments with Prohibition.
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