KAMLOOPS — Legalizing pot is taking about as much discussion time these days as the opioid crisis. Now that the Trudeau government is moving ahead on the subject, the questions now center around the procedures used to grow and sell it, and how to make its use safe.
There are other concerns as well that need to be addressed. How do we monitor the use of cannabis for those who partake and drive? What kind of machines will we have to develop to determine the level of intoxication and is there time to build them before the government puts the laws into effect? How will laws on driving while under the influence be integrated into current laws? What do we do with the acrid smell of second-hand pot smoke in the neighourhood? Many people are allergic to cigarette smoke, how will they be when the much more powerful marijuana smoke hits them, without any hope of them getting away from it.
Whether you believe marijuana has long-term effects on a person’s body with continued use or not, there is no question it has some effect. Just the smoke alone will create lung issues just like cigarettes, and medical costs will go up. Incidences of asthma and COPD will rise exponentially as pot use becomes widespread among those who no longer fear the penalties that are currently being associated with using it. I personally tend to believe the studies that show there are long term health problems associated with pot use, but others suggest it’s no big deal.
There seems to be a lot of talk about how legalizing pot will keep the big drug dealers and criminal elements out of the picture. Anyone who believes that, of course, is smoking too much of the weed. You’re not going to get the criminal element out of it no matter how hard you try. And the whole process of regulation of growth and sales, and enforcement will be huge. More, I expect than many realize. I think down the road we’ll start to see the costs of this and we will say to ourselves “this was a pretty expensive project to get a few puffs on a joint.”
I don’t think much can be done to stop the legalization of marijuana at this point. What we need to focus on now, at all levels of government and in our community, is how we are going to regulate it so that those who want to partake can, and those who don’t will be able to have some peace of mind that their health and lifestyle won’t be compromised. I don’t see any way we can make that possible. The government is favouring one side of the debate over another, and those who are already compromised in some way will only find it worse in the months and years to come.