Pubdate: Mon, 02 Apr 2018
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Susan Martinuk


When Justin Trudeau promised to legalize the use of recreational
marijuana, he no doubt felt it would be one of his easiest and most
rewarding tasks as Canada's new and uber-cool prime minister. He vowed
to make it a priority and change the laws within two years.

Fast-forward to last month, almost 2 1/2 years later, and Bill C-45,
to legalize cannabis, faced an unexpected pushback from a Senate that
threatened to send it packing. Trudeau took this chance to warn his
supposedly independent senators that their job description didn't call
for them to defeat bills proposed by the very government that had
bestowed upon them their most honourable appointments.

Apparently, this is particularly true when the bill is a campaign
promise, and Trudeau clearly implied that failing to support it would
be nothing less than a democratic strike against voting Canadians who
expected Trudeau to fulfil this promise. Of course, Trudeau himself
has already delivered that anti-democratic shot to the heart of
Canadians by breaking many promises, including guarantees of electoral
reform and greater transparency into the workings and expenses of the
government and the Prime Ministers Office. (See

The Liberals (a.k.a. independent senators) immediately issued a call
for their colleagues to return to Ottawa for the vote. Although 25 per
cent of all senators (primarily Independents and Liberals) were
conveniently absent, the much-maligned bill passed by a margin of 44-29.

It now goes to Senate committees for more review before a third and
final vote. Hopefully, these senators will care enough to give it a
"sober, second thought" and be willing to listen to the many concerns
of experts (and some advocates) who say that the current bill is
flawed and requires a significant overhaul.

Trudeau's determination to push the bill through clearly exposes the
problem with Bill C-45: It's a watershed moment that covers public
policy, health care and Canadian law. Yet, the Liberals refuse to see
it as anything more than an election promise that must be in place by
August; details be damned. Why else would they ignore the warnings of
Americans who have already dealt with this?

When representatives from Colorado and Washington state testified
before a parliamentary committee, their most ardent recommendations
were to "slow down." "Don't rush the process." "Take your time - even
when the public is clamouring for access."

No doubt they picked up on the Liberal's sense of urgency as the
committee allowed just five days to hear from 100 experts to discuss a
plethora of issues. A 10-minute cap on testimony meant speakers were
barely able to scratch the surface of potential complications or
possible solutions.

A University of Denver law professor warned MPs that the black market
doesn't go away after legalization - it still controls 30 per cent of
sales in Colorado. Another witness from the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Agency said the illegal production of marijuana increased "20-fold"
after legalization. Sellers stand in front of legal venues and offer
cut rates to customers. Edibles (such as gummies and lollipops) are
openly distributed and have increased ER visits for children who have
accidentally consumed them. Police find it difficult to prove impaired
driving as it requires a trip to the hospital and a blood test.

Trudeau says we need Bill C-45 to protect public health and safety,
and to prevent millions of dollars from flowing to the black market.
But the proposed legislation doesn't provide solutions to any of these
problems, or to a host of other concerns related to health care and

In preparing Bill C-45, the Liberals ignored the words of Canada's
police officers who say they aren't ready for legalization. They
ignored the expertise of medical groups that say the legislation will
place kids and teens at risk, rather than keep them safe.

As a result, Bill C-45 is sloppy, devoid of details and filled with
gaping holes. It does little but reflect our PM's empty dreams and
some very funky smoke.
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