Sunday, April 10, 2016

What Will Canada's Cannabis Reform Look Like?

Cannabis Training University, (Wiki.)

Ian W. Cooper

What will Canada’s new marijuana laws look like?

For one thing, it won’t be a free-for-all. Most dope will be grown by corporations, although individuals may be allowed a small number of plants for personal use.

Part of the delay lies in working out the details, but on day one of simple legalization, stores will open and there will be product on the shelves. That’s pretty much a given.

For anyone without a license to produce from the government, cultivation, distribution and trafficking will still be offences.

Personal users will probably be allowed something like an ounce of pot in their possession for personal use only. Selling, distribution, and production of anything much more than that, will still be offences.

People under 21 or even 25 will not be legally able to procure or consume marijuana products. Persons who procure for them, will still be committing an offence. It’s a simple codicil to existing laws prohibiting contribution to the delinquency of a minor.

Smoking pot in public buildings, or in public places, will still be illegal, but then right now it’s illegal to smoke tobacco in any public building. The fines are pretty hefty as well. 

Anti-tobacco lobbyists have pushed these laws so far that smoking at a ball game at a public park is illegal. Where I live, (Ontario), it is illegal to smoke within nine metres (about thirty feet), from the door of a public building. (A mall, an office tower, privately owned, are considered public buildings due to the large number of people coming and going.)

It is illegal to smoke in a vehicle when there are children under a certain age (sixteen) in the car.

The same would obviously apply to marijuana consumption. It would still be an offence to operate a vehicle under the influence or impairment of alcohol or any drug. Many painkillers have a specific warning on the label, against operating heavy machinery while taking the medication. Marijuana smokers might be subject to sobriety tests or even blood tests if, in the case of accident or collision for example, it is believed that the use of the drug was a factor in the accident.

Many employers will ban smoking of any kind in the workplace. This would apply to marijuana as well.

David Shankbone, (Wiki.)

The time frame for bringing this legislation to fruition is unclear. However, there are a host of issues involved. Just getting the production and distribution system up and running will take time, and it would be done with proper regulation and oversight—regulations that haven’t been written yet.

At first glance, it seems unlikely that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario or the Beer Store would be involved in sales. Those retail operations are long-standing and it might be unwise to disrupt things that already work well enough.

It seems far more likely that a new, specialty type of store will emerge. Some of the stores will be pure corporate entities, chain stores with a particular brand emphasis. They may resemble dispensaries, but the need for medical marijuana distribution and licensing will obviously go away under simple legalization for personal use.

Some may stem from mom-and-pop single-outlet retailers, the typical head or smoke shop already familiar to most readers.

All other restricted drugs would still remain illegal. If a carload of six people all had a few grams of marijuana on them, and one person was found to be carrying a half a gram of coke, meth, unauthorized medications, (i.e. Oxycontin without a prescription) that one person would still get in trouble with the law. Police would still have the right and the duty to enforce traffic laws, and if they pull you over, and if they have any reason for suspicion, they would still have the right to search the car, and to ask a lot of questions. If they’re getting the wrong sort of answers, they still have the right to pat you down for their own safety. They also have the right to search the car. If you refuse and ask to speak to a lawyer, there’s a good chance you will be arrested, the car searched and impounded and you can call your attorney from the jail. (This part of the law is a bit more complex than that but it’s not the main point.)

Heroin, speed, hallucinogenics like mescal, LSD, psillocybin (magic mushrooms), would all still be illegal.

Landlords would be able to determine if a building was smoking or non-smoking. It’s private property, and if a person wants to live there, they sign a lease and live by the agreement they have entered into. In that sense, not much will change.

Anyone that’s ever lived in an apartment building has smelled marijuana in the halls. Staff come and go. They cannot be unaware of it. Yet the police need a complaint. People have rights. Cops, generally speaking, do not go door to door, knocking on doors and giving a good sniff—if anybody cares to answer the door in the first place.

Basically, they need specific information before they can really do much.

I don’t expect a whole lot to change there. The police will have a certain amount of time to go after more serious crimes, including more serious drug crimes. This will vary from department to department. For entities like the DEA (admittedly a U.S. institution), and the RCMP, Customs and Immigration, etc., looking for importers, or grow ops, and major distributors is a big part of the job. In the future, there will be little reason for people to try and import marijuana into Canada. For the average municipal or provincial police officer, simple pot crimes takes up so much time in a day but no more—they’re also out there busting shoplifters, drunk drivers, investigating traffic accidents, break and enters, and the always popular domestic disturbance, which certainly the DEA isn’t interested in.

It’s not in their mandate.

Asking around, the general consensus on the street (for what that’s worth), is that this is probably not going to happen overnight.

The odds are it will probably happen, in some form, before the next federal election.


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