Cannabis con­cerns

Cen­tral lead­ers hope le­gal­iza­tion will limit ac­cess to youth

The Central Voice - - Editorial - KYLE GREENHAM kyle.greenham@gan­der­bea­con.ca

Mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers across cen­tral are hope­ful le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis will de­plete the drug’s il­le­gal mar­ket and keep it out of the hands of youth.

May­ors and coun­cil­lors from across the prov­ince at­tended an Oct. 6 lunch spon­sored by li­censed pro­ducer Aurora Cannabis. The din­ner was part of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador’s (MNL) an­nual Con­fer­ence and Trade Show, and was in­tended to spark con­ver­sa­tions about the Oct. 17 le­gal­iza­tion.

Gan­der Mayor Percy Far­well says it will be a con­sid­er­able chal­lenge to keep cannabis away from young peo­ple, but he hopes it’s pos­si­ble.

“Through the reg­u­la­tions the in­tent is cer­tainly there that it will take away ac­cess for youth,” said Far­well. “With the dis­tri­bu­tion pre­dom­i­nantly taken out of the hands of the black mar­ket, there’s a much bet­ter chance of re­duc­ing us­age among our young cit­i­zens.”

Lewis­porte Mayor Betty Clarke agrees that lim­it­ing the drug’s ac­ces­si­bil­ity to youth is what stands out as par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fi­cial. Clarke also hopes the safety and health risks will be con­sid­er­ably less­ened.

“Ru­mour has it that mar­i­juana on the black mar­ket can be laced with un­known sub­stances, so I think le­gal­iz­ing cannabis will bet­ter pro­tect peo­ple,” she said.

An­drea Paine, na­tional direc­tor of gov­ern­ment re­la­tions with Aurora Cannabis, gave a pre­sen­ta­tion be­fore the din­ner with in­sights and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties around the up­com­ing shift. With the po­ten­tial for cannabis lounges and re­tail stores, Paine specif­i­cally men­tioned ways the prov­ince’s tourism in­dus­try could grow.

From speak­ing with the mu­nic­i­pal rep­re­sen­ta­tives in at­ten­dance, Paine says more ed­u­ca­tion is the com­mon con­cern, and she is will­ing to meet in­di­vid­ual coun­cils to ad­dress any ques­tions.

“Many mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties feel lim­ited in how many de­ci­sions they can make with th­ese new Gan­der Mayor Percy Far­well hopes the le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis will keep the drug out of the hands of Gan­der youth. He also says the town is open to ex­plor­ing any eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for the area that will re­sult from le­gal­iza­tion.

pro­vin­cial laws,” she said. “If they wanted us to, we’re happy to ad­dress their coun­cils.”

Far­well says there are many con­cerns and stum­bling blocks to be dealt with as le­gal­iza­tion pro­ceeds, par­tic­u­larly around im­paired driv­ing, and how to sci­en­tif­i­cally de­ter­mine if a per­son is im­paired from cannabis use.

“I think we un­der­stand it will be a learn­ing process,” Far­well said. “First and fore­most, pub­lic health and pub­lic safety is where mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have their in­ter­est.”

Coun. Amy Coady-Davis with Grand Falls-Wind­sor agrees that be­cause this will be a unique ex­pe­ri­ence in the coun­try’s his­tory, it makes it dif­fi­cult to fore­see all the con­cerns or is­sues that may re­sult from cannabis hit­ting the le­gal mar­ket.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to know what we’re go­ing to face or how the gen­eral pub­lic is go­ing to re­spond,” Coady-Davis said. “It’s so brand new and ev­ery­body has dif­fer­ent opin­ions on how it’s go­ing to roll out.

“We have a gen­eral plan in place and we know the en­force­ment com­ing from the prov­ince and the RCMP. We just have to make sure we work to­gether and it all goes smoothly as pos­si­ble.”

KYLE GREENHAM / THE CEN­TRAL VOICE

An­drea Paine, na­tional direc­tor of gov­ern­ment re­la­tions with li­censed pro­ducer Aurora Cannabis, speaks to may­ors and coun­cil­lors of New­found­land and Labrador on a va­ri­ety of op­por­tu­ni­ties re­lated to the drug’s le­gal­iza­tion at an Oct. 6 lunch for Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador’s Con­fer­ence and Trade Show.

KYLE GREENHAM / THE CEN­TRAL VOICE

Betty Clarke, Mayor of Lewis­porte, says the most ben­e­fi­cial as­pect of le­gal­iza­tion is how it can di­min­ish the black mar­ket and make cannabis use much safer for cit­i­zens.

KYLE GREENHAM / THE CEN­TRAL VOICE

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