By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
The federal Liberals have unveiled their plans to legalize recreational marijuana – however, Oshawa’s MP thinks they’re blowing smoke.
Unveiled ahead of the long weekend, the long awaited plan, officially dubbed the Cannabis Act, would see recreational marijuana made legal by July 1, 2018, pending parliamentary approval.
Under the new rules, cannabis would be legal for those ages 18 and up. However, provinces and territories would have the option to raise that age. Individuals would also be allowed to possess up to 30 grams in public, and have up to four plants at home.
How cannabis would be sold is being left up to individual provinces.
However, Oshawa MP Colin Carrie says the Liberals are moving too quickly on this project, saying that there are a lot of concerns that have yet to be addressed, adding he doesn’t trust the prime minister with this responsibility.
“I’m still extremely concerned. If you look back at Justin Trudeau, he said he wanted to keep pot out of the hands of kids, but this whole plan he’s put forward to legalize marijuana was basically a promise to the pot smokers, not to parents,” he tells The Oshawa Express.
“Here we have a guy who can’t manage the economy, can’t manage electoral reform, doesn’t even want to show up for work, and he’s asking us to trust to protect our kids from pot? I don’t think so.”
Among the top of Carrie’s concerns for the potential legalization is health and safety, saying that the legal minimum age of 18 is far too low.
“The science is clear – the medical community says it’s not safe for people under 25, so how does this bill protect kids from adverse effects? Brain development is not a joke,” he says.
“How does it make it safe for motorists, or people in the workplace?”
Carrie also expressed his concern for not knowing how much the federal government has consulted with the provinces, which will make many of its own rules around the drug, and municipalities, nor police forces, which will be in charge of enforcing the new rules being put in place at the same time as legalization.
The new legislation also introduces several new criminal charges, creating a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of marijuana. Those who provide the drug to youth could face up to 14 years in prison.
“As a former police officer, I know firsthand how easy it is for our kids to buy cannabis,” states Bill Blair, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice and former Toronto police chief, in a news release.
“In many cases, it is easier for our children to get cannabis than it is to get cigarettes. Today’s plan to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis will put an end to this. It will keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, and stop criminals from profiting from it.”
The only other country to fully legalize recreational marijuana is Uruguay, which did so in 2014. South of the border, several states, including Colorado, Alaska and Washington, have made cannabis use legal.
A recent report by C.D. Howe says that the federal and provincial governments stand to make at least $675 million every year as a result of cannabis legalization, assuming that only federal and provincial sales taxes are added.