Canada is on track to legalize cannabis in July 2018, which would make them the first industrialized country to go full legal. However, many Canadians don’t seem to be in much of a hurry.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is pushing legislation forward to legalize marijuana, what many Canadian citizens want, but entities like law enforcement and even psychiatrists are urging a slowdown. They worry that jumping into legalization could lead to youth use and impaired driving.
“If legislation is ready to go in July 2018, policing will not be ready to go in August. It’s impossible,” said Rick Barnum, deputy commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, to the health committee of Canada’s House of Commons.
Barnum is beyond concerned that police will not have time to train when it comes to impaired driving, but he’s also worried that if police are not trained properly in time to stop it, organized crime will dominate the market.
The Quebec Association of Psychiatrists called the proposed law unacceptable, saying that attention deficit disorder and memory problems, even psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, could be exacerbated in imbibing youth. They want the age limit changed from 18 to 21 and they also want to prevent cannabis advertising and any home growing.
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Forty-eight percent of Canada’s population is worried about youth consumption as well, and 57 percent don’t believe the legal framework will be in place in time.
Approval for legalization is still at 60 percent, though, and Trudeau is working hard to make it happen. It was an integral part of his successful election two years ago. He recently stated, “The current framework is hurting Canadians. Criminal gangs and street gangs are making millions of dollars of profits off the sale of marijuana, and we need to put an end to this policing that does not work.”
Trudeau also hopes that legalization will keep kids out of the market. Former Toronto police chief and point man on cannabis to Trudeau, Bill Blair says he understands the skepticism, but indicated that Canada already has high numbers when it comes to youth usage. “You can’t regulate something that’s prohibited,” he aptly pointed out.
The government plans to retain all sanctions against illegal distribution and production of marijuana. It also plans on adding a new offense: the sale of cannabis to anyone 17 or younger will carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.