Wake Up and Smell the Cannabis

The federal government has introduced legislation that will make marijuana, legal in Canada by July 2018. In North America a total of eight U.S. states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington – and the District of Columbia – have now legalized marijuana for non-medical purposes.

The fundamental policy assumption is “if you can’t beat em join em” Prohibition isn’t working since marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug on the planet. Further, legalization will allow for regulation control quality and distribution and reduce the profits of criminals. To address the downside legislation to protect children and driving while stoned will be emphasized.

In April, the federal government tabled a bill with provisions that included an age restriction of 18 years, a legalized production and distribution system, limits on possession amounts and home growing. Opposition to the plan came largely from the Conservatives based on the risk to children and concerns about rush to implement a policy that would have wide ranging social implications.

The provinces will have a major role in implementing the plan but narrow latitude to modify the program within their jurisdiction. Alberta has undertaken an online consultation process and seeks to confirm objectives for the program.   They focus on limiting the illegal market, protecting children and youth, pubic health and safety on roads and in the workplace.

Much of the consultation is focused on mitigating the risks and harm that will come with legalization. Albertans are asked to weigh in on legal age, worker and highway safety and the distribution and sales channels that might be deployed.

The bottom line for severely normal Albertans is that this is an issue that they should pay more attention to. There is a rush on the part of the federal government to fulfill a campaign promise and the regulations, provincial roles and a myriad of devils in the detail are not worked out.

The genie is out of the bottle and there is not way to retreat for the Liberal’s campaign promise. Severely normal Alberta should definitely participate in the online survey and stress to governments that the head-long rush to get something in place in the next year is hugely risky.  In addition to the survey there are other ways to connect with the secretariat that the Alberta government has established to drive the process.  The email address isacs@gov.ab.ca ‎ Kim Chapstick  is the Executive Director of Engagement and Outreach, Alberta Cannabis Secretariat, Government of Alberta – ‎Government of Alberta