Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Legalizing Pot in Canada

Ginette Petitpas Taylor @GPTaylorMRD
Minister of Health: I want to again thank the @SenateCA for their study of Bill C-45 over the past seven months. We will be accepting most amendments, while respectfully disagreeing with others. Our bill is improved going forward. #C45 #cannabis
"Every New Year's Eve for 20 years, I'd say goodbye to my wife and go and do ride spot checks with my guys [as Toronto's chief of police]."
"It's not the government's intent to promote the use of this drug [marijuana, soon to become legal in Canada]."
"I don't like it [cannabis]. My father was a cop and I had a great respect for him. Didn't want to let him down. Later when I became a cop, I was glad that I had made that choice because I thought it would be pretty hypocritical to enforce a law I had broken. I have actually never used any illicit drug."
"Organized crime will engage in whatever enterprise makes money for them and they're quite willing to operate outside the law. It's not all motorcycle gangs and street gangs and mafia. But it's all criminal enterprises and therefore unregulated and not subject to any rules. There's lots of different ways to fight organized crime and it's not just enforcement. Sometimes you have to outflank them. We've [Canada's federal Liberal government] now created competition in the market-place -- they've never had competition before."
"I thought my job wasn't just to enforce the law but it was to keep communities safe. The rule of law is meant to act in the public interest but what we saw was pretty strong -- a ridiculously high percentage of our kids using this drug but not being subject to any regulatory control or oversight. And so changing the law [as a Member of Parliament] made sense to me. You don't arrest your way out of these complex problems."
"My experience as a cop was to go into these crappy grow-ops, where the houses were covered in mold and my guys had to wear white space suits; there were hydro bypasses, they were fire hazards, it was a mess."
"The houses were rendered completely uninhabitable. We estimated there were close to 10,000 houses being used that way in the GTA [Greater Toronto Area]. I had two grow-op teams, they were doing about 350 a year and we were just touching the edge. You close one and three more would pop up because it was a lucrative business. The consequences were not nearly sufficient to deter the profit. We were fighting a losing battle."
Member of Parliament Bill Blair, former Toronto Chief of Police
There are many serious concerns about legalized marijuana that the government still hasn't addressed. (Joe Mahoney/Canadian Press)

On the cusp of legalizing cannabis in Canada, Bill Blair -- as the parliamentary secretary to both the Minister of Justice and the Minster of Health -- is the appointed point man overseeing the broad legislation set in motion to legalize marijuana. He has been tasked with ushering the drug's legalization through Parliament and the Senate for approval. And he has been the contact person between government and the pot-producing industry. As for his credibility and the respect with which he is held by both, it owes much to his lengthy time in law enforcement and first-hand knowledge of the illegal status of the drug.

His personal aversion to any kind of drug use is fairly well known, giving his point of view on pot's legalization greater clout. He speaks from the perspective of a long-time police chief in a major North American metropolis attempting to deal with the issue of illegal drugs, their proliferation and the crimes associated with their production and distribution adding to his conclusion through experience that overall prohibition was "failing on every front". As a practical, intelligent man he supports the obvious; that if something vital to the well-being of society as a whole isn't working, a new tack is called for.

An opportunity presented itself with the emergence of legalizing marijuana production, distribution and use for medical purposes. Medical marijuana supply was legalized in Canada in 2013, and as then-police chief, Blair had the opportunity to look at the facilities close up and personal, to discover that these new 'pharmaceutical factories' rivalled their conventional drug-producing counterparts for cleanliness, cutting-edge technology and security. "It shows there's a way this can be done right. This is a better way", he emphasized.

Measuring impairment on the road will be left to officers' judgments. (File Photo/CBC)

As a practical man he knows there are no guarantees, only optimism that perhaps a different way of doing things will result in a far better outcome than currently exists. Legalization could conceivably fail, just as prohibition has. An example is that in Colorado, one of four American states where pot is now legal, the black market still thrives. Mr. Blair has no expectation that legalizing pot will overnight kill the black market. Again, looking to Colorado, four years on from its legalization around 70 percent of the market is claimed by legal pot with much of the illicit stuff sent out of state where it remains illegal.

"Smoking is probably the least healthy way to do this [edible marijuana has not yet got a green light]. Philosophically, we're on the side of the healthier choice but there's a lot of risk in edibles. If you're going to allow them,  you've got to regulate them properly so people know what they are consuming, what the dosage is. Cannabis smoke metabolizes differently than cannabis when it's ingested. You don't want people having one biscuit and 30 minutes later having another because the first hasn't had any effect, then 30 minutes later taking out the tray. Two hours later they're not doing well at all."

Still from video: Global News

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