Courtesy of Lift Magazine
Bill Blair continues his tour of Canada this week, meeting with lawmakers, stakeholders, and law enforcement officials to discuss marijuana legalization.
In BC last week, and Ontario the week before, Blair is now back in Ontario and yesterday spoke with media in Sault Ste. Marie to provide a public update on the conversation so far.
Blair once again emphasized the Liberal Party’s ‘legalize, regulate and restrict access’ mantra, stressing some of the Task Force recommendations, like a Federal age limit of 18 and plain packaging to discourage a consumer market.
“It is not the government of Canada’s intention to promote the use of this drug,” Blair told SooToday.com. “Our intention is to restrict its access to young people and make sure adults who choose to use it are given accurate information about the consequences for their health and social outcomes.”
“The current prohibition is overwhelmingly being ignored…so we propose to put in a very strict system of regulation that controls the production of cannabis, where it can be legally sold, under what circumstances, how much, and to whom,” he continued.
Blair also mentions that the process of coordinating all these regulatory changes between federal, provincial and municipal governments could take another year or two.
Neither of these are new revelations. The emphasis on a strict, harm-reduction focussed legalization that discourages use has been a constant mantra of the government, as the focus is on a timeline of years, not months, before full legalization is functional across Canada.
As the federal government provides more clarity to the provinces and municipalities about what the proposed federal regulations will be and what authority the latter two jurisdictions have to regulate things like distribution, taxes, where retail and production/grow sites can be located, etc., the licensing of even more grow/production facilities by the Federal Government to even have enough cannabis to supply the legal market may take years.
Last fall, Nunavut’s justice minister, Keith Peterson, mentioned in an interview that territorial and provincial ministers urged federal Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould at a meeting to implement a 1-2 year “gap period” for different jurisdictions to have time to work out legalization and distribution issues. Peterson also said that issues of municipal and territorial control still need to be discussed, and much of that requires waiting on more federal guidance.
The Territory, says Peterson, is still struggling with a distribution system for alcohol, so cannabis will present similar challenges. His department hasn’t yet looked at issues around distribution.
The emphasis on a non-commercialized market is also not new. At a conference on Canada’s economic future in Toronto last June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked if legalizing marijuana will allow Canada to to develop a thriving marijuana industry comparable to France’s wine industry.
Trudeau’s response was that the purpose of legalization is to do what prohibition failed at, keeping kids from using cannabis, keeping money away from gangs, not encourage a thriving cannabis industry in Canada. This isn’t to say Canada’s industry won’t