The mar­i­juana learn­ing curve

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial -

The count­down is of­fi­cially on. It’s 113, then 112, then 111 … the num­ber of days un­til mar­i­juana is of­fi­cially le­gal­ized in Canada on Oct. 17. And while that still seems like a long time, there’s plenty to be done — and plenty of ques­tions to be an­swered — be­fore then.

While it’s def­i­nitely more time than the orig­i­nal plan — which was for le­gal­iza­tion by July — there is still a huge vol­ume of ques­tions to be an­swered.

Ques­tions about driv­ing while im­paired by drugs are go­ing to be ad­dressed by drug recog­ni­tion of­fi­cers — some­thing that is still, at best, an in­formed opin­ion, rather than an em­pir­i­cal stan­dard of mea­sure­ment.

Some prov­inces have one stan­dard for the num­ber of plants that can be grown. Oth­ers have an­other. A few can’t an­swer if plants can be grown out­side — and, if they can, what kind of fenc­ing might be re­quired, for example.

We haven’t heard yet if grow­ing plants or smok­ing weed in­side will have im­pacts on home in­surance rates. Pre-le­gal­iza­tion, land­lords could find to their great dis­tress that ten­ants in­volved with il­le­gal drugs could also void prop­erty in­surance. Most prov­inces seem to have melded two dif­fer­ent kinds of stan­dards (those for drink­ing al­co­hol and those for pub­lic smok­ing of to­bacco) into a kind of hy­brid leg­is­la­tion that is, as yet, untested. It hasn’t even had any­thing like a full­speed run-through.

Many prov­inces have their ba­sic mar­i­juana leg­is­la­tion in place, but still have to build the reg­u­la­tions that be­come laws.

So where are we?

Per­haps at a point where we have to stop and rec­og­nize that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and mar­i­juana leg­is­la­tion isn’t go­ing to be con­structed that way ei­ther.

With ev­ery hic­cup, there are go­ing to be peo­ple who say, “See, this is why we should never have le­gal­ized weed.” At the same time, those road­blocks will cause those on the other side of the spec­trum to claim the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has some­how been dis­hon­est, and doesn’t want le­gal­iza­tion to work.

The truth is some­thing else again.

Other ju­ris­dic­tions have man­aged to le­gal­ize mar­i­juana, but noth­ing much like it has been done in our sys­tem, at least not in a long time.

Let’s hope that ev­ery­one in­volved — in­di­vid­ual users, neigh­bours, land­lords, ten­ants, po­lice of­fi­cers, politi­cians — rec­og­nize how much of a learn­ing curve is in­volved here, and how many small house­keep­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tions — and per­haps even larger fun­da­men­tal changes — are go­ing to be re­quired to make the sys­tem func­tion smoothly.

There are go­ing to be false steps, mis­takes and prob­a­bly, sadly, tragedies.

The end goal is to reg­u­late some­thing that has been widely avail­able de­spite ev­ery at­tempt by law en­force­ment to stop its sale, and has kept bil­lions of dol­lars pass­ing through crim­i­nal en­ter­prises.

It will take time to do it right. Let’s give it a chance.

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