Editorial: Hazy pot laws will clear up

The federal government will start clearing away some of the haze about marijuana legalization.

The federal government will start clearing away some of the haze about marijuana legalization.

Health Minister Jane Philpott announced April 20 that the government is a year away from introducing legislation to legalize pot. The particulars are unknown and, presumably, undetermined, but the feds stressed they will look to keep the drug away from children and the profits away from gangs. Legalization strategies will be developed in consultation and co-operation with law enforcement.

Whatever the model, it will be complicated, as legalization comes with related considerations such as taxation, education, and laws and campaigns against stoned driving.

It’s our hope that the legalized marijuana model will be an improvement over the status quo. Particularly in recent years, there has been a sort of selective decriminalization. Sales at dispensaries are tolerated, yet smoking marijuana isn’t allowed. Pot shops at least purport to provide medicine and education in a safe environment; then again, without over-arching regulations and safety standards, we’re left to take these dispensaries at their word.

There are conceivable scenarios that could see these pot shops legitimized a year from now, but there are other models, too, that we might prefer. It’s possible that marijuana might be sold pretty much everywhere, or only at a few select locations.

There are foreseeable problems now that legalization is closer than ever. If dispensaries appear doomed, we might see more police raids, with authorities looking to snuff out pot shops for good. Or we might see the opposite outcome – a free-for-all with no crackdowns at all, and even more pot sellers popping up to try to cash in while they can.

It seems likely that before legalization will come a year of confusion, or worse. Maybe there’s some way, in the meantime, to try to stay mellow.

Nanaimo News Bulletin