Editorial – Going to San Francisco

Jeff Burgar
In the grand scheme of things, it was likely inevitable legalizing marijuana across Canada would happen one of these days.

Pot and hash, both strong and weak versions, have been sometimes in easy supply and other days, not so easy, since the 1970s. It took a few years for San Francisco’s 1960’s ‘power of love’ and ‘flower power’ to slowly work their ways to our Great White North. But they did.

It’s now 50 years on. Many American states have legalized personal consumption. Medical weed in Canada has been available for years. The only thing holding back loosening the rules in Canada sooner was the religious bent of Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper. If he thought he could make the ideas fly, Harper would have made Sunday shopping and liquor both illegal, never mind the demon dope.

But, we have a Liberal federal government, who says weed for personal use will be legal by July 1, 2018, just over 14 months away. That time will fly, even for the estimated 25-30,000 people across Canada facing pot possession or use charges.

As should be expected, many towns and cities around Alberta are worried.

“Oh,” whines Lisa Holmes, the mayor of Morinville and president of AUMA, the body which represents all the urban communities of Alberta, “There is so much to do.”

Holmes wants another year added to the timeline. Maybe more.

Exactly what has to be done is not clear. Holmes says she is worried how to regulate sales and how to police the product. Her thoughts are sort of echoed by Premier Rachel Notley. Even if the law is passed, Alberta still has the authority for setting a minimum age for purchase and deciding how it will be sold. Corner health store? Liquor stores?

Well, those 25,000 plus people in limbo right now say get on with it! Yakking about extending deadlines is just a message that if two years from now is better, three or four years are even better.

We refer you to the problems American President Donald Trump had with getting his new health care legislation passed. He was asked, “Your party had eight years to work on the new plan you said you all said you were going to bring in if you were elected. Your top officials brought in a plan the rest of your own party didn’t like. What happened?”

The quaint reply, “Nothing happens in government happens until it absolutely has to happen.”

Fortunately, provincial justice minister Kathleen Ganley has already traveled to Colorado to see how that state has handled its legalizing issues, which happened there in 2014. Ganley says the Canadian timeline is ambitious, but not impossible. Her three aims are to keep pot away from children, make sure criminals do not profit from anything, and keep impaired drivers off the roads. That should not take another two years of chit chat.

Meanwhile, Holmes says the time needed for our towns is because government “works slow.” Trying to push things down the road, as she is doing, just makes sure that keeps happening.

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