Lisa Gervais: Liberals leave real work to province
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | April 20, 2017
We’re wrapping our heads around the first big election promise Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has kept: the legalization of marijuana. We thought it might take our minds off of that whole electoral reform fiasco.
In general, we agree with the decision to decriminalize marijuana. We have seen the police and courts overrun with small-time pot possession and it has been a time-consuming and money-wasting endeavour. Most police chiefs and courts agree with the move.
So, if you’re 18 and older you will be able to buy weed under proposed federal legislation. In Ontario, where the legal drinking age is 19, it would make sense to make the minimum age the same. Our local health unit prefers 21. Ultimately, the age limit will be set by the province.
But whether it is 18, 19 or 21, teens are going to buy pot, or have pot purchased or given to them by someone older, just as they do with alcohol. The key to preventing abuse with both substances involves a well-tested combination of education, support and adult supervision. A higher age limit is not the answer; it would just allow the black market to continue, but now with a focus on kids. Rather, countries like France have clearly demonstrated, at least when it comes to alcohol that earlier exposure and normalization actually lead to fewer problems. Without the thrill of the illicit, young people actually drink less and less often. Go figure.
Could it be that pot will lose its allure for the youngsters when it’s grandma sneaking out to the porch for an arthritis-relieving toke after dinner? Again, Europe offers a hint – in the Netherlands, where cannabis has long been readily available in corner shops, the young have come to see it as something for tourists and losers. And no, they haven’t turned to harder drugs either.
What else do we know? You’ll be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis. And you can grow up to four plants as long as they’re not higher than a metre. And you can use the stuff to make brownies or tea as long as it’s for personal use at home, not for sale, say, at the farmers market. The million dollar question is how the stuff is going to be sold. The Liberals have metaphorically rolled and smoked it, only to now zone out, leaving the real work to the provinces. An argument can be made that it would be easiest for the provinces to sell marijuana via LCBO’s since they already know what they are doing.
And what about taxes? Might there be a High-dro levy to help offset soaring energy costs?
One would surmise that businesses already licenced to make and sell medical marijuana are poised to profit from this burgeoning industry. Reading a recent Globe and Mail article, insiders with two of Canada’s largest marijuana companies have already cashed in, selling millions of dollars’ worth of shares. Share prices are growing faster than a good cannabis crop. Then again, it may be hard to make money when people can grow the stuff in their yards. While many will frown upon pot legalization, it is an industry. Here in the Haliburton Highlands, we are always looking to grow and diversify our economy. Economic development committees and entrepreneurs should at the very least have a discussion about whether some green can be gained from this new cash-crop. It does, after all, seem to grow quite well compared to other crops around here.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.