The Trudeau Liberals checked off another box today from their 2015 election promises. Legislation was introduced to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.
In this bill, Trudeau is sitting pretty atop the pyramid of responsibility, he has the least to lose and the least to pay for an issue that in the Provincial Elections of 2011 and 2014 was not raised. Even during my short time campaigning municipally in 2010, this was not an election concern. In the federal campaigns of 2011 and 2015, I don’t recall legal marijuana being listed as a top concern in Ottawa Centre and other ridings, whether it was in Toronto or Ottawa that I helped a candidate in.
While the Liberals have the greatest to gain and the least to lose it’s the two lower tiers that will have to work the hardest to make the legislation work. This is legislation that as far as I can tell was not top of the page in Queens Park, Ottawa or Toronto City Hall or any other provincial legislature. As the responsibility drops, there’s more to lose. The cost of enforcement falls to municipal and provincial police forces; the provincial justice system has to try the cases. Distribution will flow through individual provincial manners much like alcohol and with different provincial policies for health and healthcare it just gets messier.
If the federal government really wanted to take control of legal pot – they could do it all alone using federal institutions that are currently in place. Let’s leave the Provinces and Municipalities out of it. It’s not unrealistic to think that the federal government could do this all on their own, with few exceptions.
Growth and production regulations for of cannabis and cannabis products would fall under the Health Canada, while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency would team up with Agriculture Canada to regulate the growth, collection and inspection of the efficacy and safety of the product going out to Canadians. Health Canada would be responsible for education on the use of pot and the awareness of its use’s effects.
The federal government can rely on Canada Post for distribution of the marijuana to customers, either through mail or in Canada Post outlets. This eliminates the need and legality of others owning the pot dispensaries.
Enforcement falls in to the laps of RCMP; the CBSA could be expanded to include the law’s enforcement and on federal lands (parks and Parliament Hill) wardens and Parliamentary Police Forces would pitch in. In some other cases other levels of policing could be contracted and invoice the federal government when arrests are made. These policing costs would merely be a line item in the larger legal marijuana budget. Criminal cases would be tried solely in federal courts and convictions to be served in federal penitentiaries.
The same concept works for the treatment of cases for marijuana related ambulatory trips to the ER’s, stays in hospitals etc., Provinces can bill the federal government and receive payment through healthcare transfers.
Through all of this, the beauty is that the federal government keeps all the money; there would be no need to share any of the revenue from the sale of the marijuana.
Does this scenario make it more difficult for people who want to smoke it get it? Maybe, but that’s not my issue, more importantly though it makes it simpler to know who is supposed to do what. It would all fall on the federal government – no one to blame (or praise) for the success or failure of legalizing pot goes to any other level of government.
The bottom line is this; it’s easy to come up with an idea and tell someone else to take care of it. But courage is to take ownership, 100% ownership. In a 2017 Trudeau world, there is no room to take 100% ownership of any problem, there is always someone else.
Now what can we do to move the date of legalization away, far away from Canada Day?
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