To access the previous article on the history of the use of marijuana in Canada for medicinal and recreational purposes, please click http://chinesenewsgroup.com/news/663009
There is expectations in the public to have the laws passed through the Senate to legalize the use of recreational marijuana and make it available for sale by July 1, 2018.
The high-security plants to produce the lucrative marijuana are licensed. Their stocks of the producers have risen multiple times in public trading since early November, 2017 in anticipation of expanding sales and profits in 2018. Yet with about six months to go, the federal government and the provinces are staring at a formidable to-do list.
Ottawa must explain how it will deal with international drug treaties that prohibit marijuana sales. The federal government still has to set the limit at which drivers will be declared impaired under criminal law, and must determine the rules for advertising and the standards for growers who are only in compliance with medicinal plants at this moment.
The federal government will also have to work with the provinces to agree on how much the legal product will cost and how much it will be taxed by the two levels of government. Governments do not want a repeat of their experience with cigarettes, in which high taxes were intended to discourage smoking but created a large black market instead.
Most provinces except Ontario and Alberta have yet to decide the amount of marijuana that individuals will be able to possess or grow. The minimum age for buyers has yet to be determined along with the designation of smoking locations for legalized marijuana. On top of this, police forces are warning that successful inauguration of a legal system for selling marijuana will require an accompanying crackdown on the black market.
Ontario wants to treat marijuana much like how alcohol has been handled. It will set up 150 government-owned stores run by the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) under the control of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) The OCRC will have a monopoly on the weed market in Ontario and the existing “dispensaries” now operating illegally will be forced out of business.
The Ontario Cannabis Act passed in December, 2017 sets a minimum age of 19 to use, buy, possess and cultivate up to 4 marijuana plants in Ontario for personal consumption. It imposes penalties for running a dispensary of up to $1 million for a corporate owner and $100,000 for an individual plus jail sentences of up to two years less a day. The use of marijuana is banned in public places, workplaces and motor vehicles, similar to alcohol.
There are also stiffer penalties for motorists who drive while under the influence of marijuana. This brings up a controversy as the use of saliva tests to identify marijuana-impaired drivers has yet to be defined. Few equipments to conduct the tests is now in the field, and few officers have been trained in its use. Scientists said the tests have proved valid in other countries, but acknowledge that marijuana’s active ingredient was not as easily measured as alcohol. A larger concern will be changing public opinion about whether it is safe to drive under the influence of marijuana.
It is anticipated that the illegal market will aggressively promote food laced with marijuana, one of many products that will not immediately be allowed under the new system. The success to control the marijuana sale will rest on our legal system to shut down the black market swiftly and aggressively. The illegal marijuana sales is an $8 billion-a-year economy. Legalization will change the dynamics of the black market but it will not fade away.
In November, 2017 the Ontario government announced the first wave of 40 recreational marijuana stores. They are to be located in 14 municipalities including Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, and Hamilton. Guidelines are set by the OCRC to ensure that stores are not in close proximity to schools, while providing access within communities and addressing the illegal market.
Immediately, some local municipal politicians took up positions to oppose the allocation of recreation marijuana sales outlets within their communities. Next time, we will look into their rationale on this posturing.
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