KAMLOOPS — While it is true that the criminal prohibition of marijuana has failed to protect our kids and communities, that doesn’t necessarily justify completely legalizing its recreational use. Bill Blair is the man appointed by Prime Minister Trudeau to manage the government’s legislation, and the words I used in the first line are his. He has some significant background on the issue, having served as the police chief of Canada’s largest city.
I had the privilege of meeting Blair in Toronto two years ago when I was at a convention and he was the guest speaker. In talking with him, I sensed a man committed to whatever he might be tasked with, and at that time, he was just finished his term as Chief. He was controversial, having come into conflict with Mayor Rob Ford and his councilman brother Doug, he fought a cut in the police department budget, and was the subject of much media attention when his force detained nearly 1,000 people during the 2010 G-20 Toronto summit protests. A no-nonsense kind of guy, he now, as an MP and man responsible for the plan to legalize marijuana, will no doubt again be thrust into a controversial role. We could have worse people doing the job.
There are still many issues that need to be ironed out, and there is much discussion required before the plan is put in place. While the government suggests it wants to begin legal sales by the middle of next year, it may not be quite that quick. Prices have to be determined, tax structures put in place. The exact nature of the law has to be determined. Growing pot in your own home will be an issue. Much discussion needs to take place with the provinces over how the drug will be distributed and sold within its boundaries. Impairment tests need to be determined, and there is still concern about allowing a drug to be consumed legally that has long-term health effects.
Proponents of legalized pot would say “if we can allow alcohol, which also has long term effects, why not pot?” But one problem shouldn’t automatically allow another to be created. It is a fact that if you want pot, you probably would have little trouble getting it. So perhaps decriminalizing it is okay. Totally legalizing it is something still up for discussion in my mind, but apparently not in the minds of the Liberal MPs.
The government says growing and distributing pot outside licensed channels will still be serious crimes, but that’s going to be even more difficult to enforce than it is now. And how do you control how many plants an individual household has? If the law says you can grow up to four plants, are police going to check every home to see how much you’re growing? Highly doubtful. And if you are bothered by second-hand cigarette smoke, you will be downright sickened by the much more powerful smell of pot being consumed.
Yes, it would seem that decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana has its advantages, but there are still many things to iron out before it is acceptable in my mind. Bill Blair and his panel have lots of work to do if they are planning to meet a mid-2018 deadline for making it a reality. Eventually, I predict the new laws will create more problems than they solve. I hope I’m wrong, but history would seem to indicate I’m not.