Press the pause button on cannabis legalization

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
October 5, 2017 - 5:00am Updated: October 5, 2017 - 11:19am

KAMLOOPS — So now Justin Trudeau wants to make some money off the legalization of recreational marijuana.

In a surprise move, he told premiers this week he’d like to levy a 10-per-cent excise tax on pot when it becomes legal next July 1.

This, after having insisted legalization is about common sense, not money.

Governments are commonly blamed for not keeping their promises, but occasionally going back on them is a good idea.

Trudeau’s already done it with electoral reform and some other stuff, and marijuana is another backtrack he should seriously consider.

I don’t mean he should renege on his pledge to legalize recreational weed. No, legalization makes sense.

But insisting it has to happen by next year’s Canada Day is, quite simply, stupid.

There are huge preparations to be made not only at the federal level, but at the provincial and municipal levels where much of the impact will be felt.

In B.C., the provincial government is struggling with how to tax the sale of the product, and how to share revenues.

There are scores of questions that have to be answered.

Where will it be sold? Liquor stores? Bars? Drug stores? Store fronts? Behind the counter at the gas station?

What will be the legal age? What about impaired driving? How will that be measured? How will it be enforced?

How will City councils and regional districts establish zoning for cannabis factories? What about permit fees to cover administration and local- enforcement costs?

No doubt, legalization will open up multi-million-dollar economic opportunities for enterprising entrepreneurs, with huge potential benefits to rural and urban communities alike.

But it also opens up huge challenges. If we don’t do it right, if we don’t take our time, those benefits can turn into major problems.

Trudeau should suck it up and press the pause button on legalization until we’re sure we’ve got it figured out.

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