Fed­eral gov­ern­ment looks to set up sys­tem for cannabis

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - NATIONAL - KRISTY KIRKUP

Ot­tawa is plan­ning to set up a cannabis track­ing sys­tem to collect in­for­ma­tion about mar­i­juana prod­ucts from li­censed pro­duc­ers, dis­trib­u­tors and re­tail­ers — just one of a host of pro­posed changes to be ush­ered in along­side le­gal­iza­tion.

Health Canada says the pro­posed sys­tem, which would not track in­di­vid­ual cannabis users, would al­low busi­nesses and reg­u­la­tors to trace all prod­ucts and ad­dress re­calls.

The track­ing would also help to en­sure cannabis is not be­ing di­verted to il­le­gal mar­kets, the depart­ment said, given the gov­ern­ment’s stated and oft-re­peated goal of lim­it­ing or­ga­nized crime’s foot­print in the pot trade.

“Manda­tory prod­uct track-and-trace sys­tems are com­mon fea­tures in other ju­ris­dic­tions that have le­gal­ized cannabis for non­med­i­cal pur­poses,” the depart­ment said.

The spe­cific re­quire­ments of the sys­tem still need to be de­vel­oped, Health Canada added, not­ing sim­i­lar sys­tems are used in the U.S. to gather in­for­ma­tion about cannabis prod­ucts.

The depart­ment did not say how much the pro­posed sys­tem would cost — only that it in­tends to off­set such costs through li­cens­ing and other fees.

The gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tion did not of­fer any specifics on tax mea­sures for mar­i­juana, which was sure to be dif­fi­cult to miss Thurs­day on Par­lia­ment Hill as afi­ciona­dos gath­ered to mark the an­nual April 20 pot cel­e­bra­tions known as 4/20.

How­ever, not every­one is cheer­ing the gov­ern­ment’s le­gal­iza­tion ef­forts.

Alex New­combe, a 31-year-old medic­i­nal mar­i­juana user, said he is dis­ap­pointed by the Lib­eral leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced last week.

“It is not any­thing other than pro­hi­bi­tion 2.0,” New­combe said, who is es­pe­cially up­set that the fed­eral Lib­er­als have not taken steps to de­crim­i­nal­ize the drug in the in­terim.

“(Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau) could de­crim­i­nal­ize it at a mo­ment’s no­tice,” he said. “He’s the one stop­ping it at the mo­ment — we’re call­ing him out on it.”

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has said re­peat­edly it has no plans to de­crim­i­nal­ize mar­i­juana un­til le­gal­iza­tion is in place — a goal it hopes to achieve by July 2018.

Trudeau, who ad­mit­ted to smok­ing pot af­ter be­com­ing an MP, told Bloomberg on Thurs­day that Canada’s le­gal­iza­tion strat­egy is built around a recog­ni­tion that mar­i­juana is “not good” for the de­vel­op­ing brains of young peo­ple.

“We need to do a bet­ter job of making it more dif­fi­cult, at least as dif­fi­cult as it is to ac­cess al­co­hol as it can be,” he said.

Crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tions and street gangs collect bil­lions ev­ery year from il­licit mar­i­juana sales, he added, not­ing this money is then fun­nelled into other crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties.

“So you put those two things to­gether and re­al­ize we have a sys­tem that isn’t work­ing,” Trudeau said.

SEAN KIL­PATRICK/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A woman smokes dur­ing a 4/20 rally on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa, on Thurs­day. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is plan­ning to set up a sys­tem to collect in­for­ma­tion about mar­i­juana prod­ucts from li­censed pro­duc­ers, dis­trib­u­tors and re­tail­ers.

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