Friday, 14 April 2017

Great Canadian Pot

Yesterday, after a much anticipated election promise, Justin Trudeau and his administration officially announced that marijuana will become legal for sale and consumption throughout all of Canada...In July of 2018....


While some may have begun partying and cheering at the announcement, others like myself are still scratching their head a little.

Why has it taken so long to make this a reality!? More importantly, why are people still being charged with possession, something that can greatly impact their working lives and mobility throughout the world?

Read a little further as I discuss my thoughts on the legislative framework put into place yesterday and #ThePoliticalPotMap that the Trudeau government has decided to rely on moving forward.

Legalization Deadline

 As of now, marijuana is slated to become officially legal in July of 2018, with an original date aimed at Canada Day.

While this may seem like an interesting way to integrate marijuana into Canadian cultural celebrations, I feel like the Trudeau government is missing the point on this.

Why would we want to celebrate both Canada and pot on the same day, when in reality, most people who consume marijuana have their own holiday, 4/20!?

Not Canada Day


Specifically, Trudeau's government has announced that the provinces have until July 2018 to implement their own individual distribution systems.

While I understand that it takes time to get legislation moving and put into place proper checks and balances, the government should have been moving much faster on this legislation, mainly because it will provide a much needed cash boost, while also opening up a more lucrative tourism market to the provinces.

Who wouldn't love the convenience of enjoying the beautiful sites of British Colombia or the life altering views of Niagara Falls, while puffing on some freshly cultivated, properly regulated, safe marijuana? Talk about the closest thing to having a green cash cow, almost entirely at your beck and call.

 Regulation 

Based on the information released, the system moving forward will most likely rely on a regulation system that will consist of permits issued to a set number of providers. While this may seem like a step in favor of pushing more black market pot, it actually allows the government to catch up and ensure regulation can be enforced early on. The last thing anyone wants is to allow for a free for all marijuana spree, that would initially be a logistical nightmare to both tax and also regulate for quality and safety.

While this will still allow for a place for underground pot, it will also slowly degrade the reliance on such sources over time. As the pricing is properly adjusted and the quality is confirmed, the idea is that people will rely more on the legitimately marketed pot as opposed to the shadier black market stuff.

If you want to think of the best comparison between alcohol and marijuana, this would be the point to rely on. While many people search out cheaper alcohol, it is often rare to find people actively seeking underground hooch or moonshine anymore, sure there are a few here and there, but nothing like the days of prohibition, which forced everyone underground and allowed organized crime to flourish.


 Penalties and Enforcement

 Reinforcing our current drug laws and legal limits is the most important aspect of pot legalization, even more so than the taxation of it.

Currently, there is no sure fire way to calculate who is beyond a certain limit and thus impaired to operate a vehicle. While many may argue that pot does not impair you, but rather heighten your senses, I say thank you, but no thank you. I don't trust most people driving while sober, let alone under the influence of something that alters their mind, regardless of the experiences had by some.

It has been almost a decade now that the New Democrats have called for both the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, followed by the Green party, who have also actively campaigned on this promise.

The question that remains, is how legalization will now affect those who currently either hold records or are serving time for the possession and or distribution of marijuana?

Will the government issue an accelerated pardon system to target these past convictions, which as we see now, were the result of a failed campaign on controlling marijuana? While the regulation and enforcement of other harder drugs is still necessary, much of the time and money put into actively controlling marijuana can begin to ease up and become more of a check-in and fine system, similar to what you might see with municipal by-law.

This is good for job creation, as I imagine a multitude of paralegals and by-law enforcement will employ more Canadians, with work that will most likely not go out of demand any time soon.

Furthermore, the government should look to issue a call for a more specialized enforcement of marijuana. While Canada will stand united in its allowance of legalized pot, the reality is that every province will take their own approach to both distribution and enforcement. Think Quebec, with a corner store pot shop throughout Montreal and other tourist spots or Ontario with an LCBO stocking pot and rum a few feet away. The criminal code will be there for large infractions regarding pot and human life, but when someone is distributing a legal substance to people of the right age, do we still lock them up or just fine them based on the size of the infraction?

Pricing

To finish off, a very important aspect of legal pot was omitted entirely from yesterday's announcement. The government has not even hinted at confirming both GST/HST on pot sales.

Pricing will be crucial to turn people away from underground pot and help normalize legal pot.

At the moment, the price aim is between $9-$10 per gram. This would most likely either contain tax in it or be before the standard 12% tax rate.

Where timing is also important is regarding the marketing and pricing of legal pot. Had the government moved in a little faster, they could have not only begun reaping the financial benefits of legal pot, but also beat out already established American counterparts in the legal states.

With a lower Canadian dollar and a population that currently is not shy from encountering pot, this could unleash a buying spree from both domestic and international consumption in the form of tourism.

A real concern that all provinces should have is the initial rush on supply and the consequences of not ensuring a steady supply of legal pot upfront. Provinces should be organizing as soon as possible to establish pot zones in public spaces that not only allow for the consumption of legal pot, but also the necessary regulation to find a proper balance between domestic and international consumption.

Certain areas with the right marketing and social amenities, could essentially become tourist hubs within many Canadian cities that not only draw people for the legal pot, but also allow for the development and profiteering from Canadian culture through food and entertainment.

A little pot with your poutine eh?

Beaver tale with a joint?

Butter Tarts that will send you to the moon?

Space Gummies?

Lets do this right and make a lot of money for both the government and for individual Canadians, who may have some great ideas of safely marketing marijuana and further helping everyone just mellow out a bit!

Until July 2018...dude!


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