Weed con­trol, with a new twist

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - -- Richard Ma­honey [email protected]­gar­rynews.ca

Pot­holes are among those per­pet­ual prob­lems that we ex­pect some­body to fix. Warm weather and thaws trig­ger the cre­ation of new craters in our roads, and trig­ger de­mands that the roads de­part­ments fill the canyons, now.

Since we pay taxes, and this is a free coun­try, we are en­ti­tled to ut­ter sea­sonal com­plaints about our gov­ern­ments spend­ing our money in all the wrong places. The gov­ern­ments have plenty of money for ex­penses that we judge to be lu­di­crous, but it seems that funds are scarce when it comes time to re­pair the cracks and bumps and other nui­sances we en­counter on a daily ba­sis.

Road main­te­nance is one of the main, and most ex­pen­sive, re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, which, as we are of­ten re­minded, are al­ways be ex­pected to do more with less.

As of July 1, apart from pot­holes, pot will be just an­other topic lo­cal gov­ern­ments will have to worry about.

For decades, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and coun­ties have op­er­ated weed erad­i­ca­tion pro­grams but “weed con­trol” will take on a new twist when lo­cal gov­ern­ments will be obliged to en­act rules gov­ern­ing the pro­duc­tion and use of recre­ational mar­i­juana.

Ob­vi­ously, leg­is­la­tion is not on the minds of the many whose spir­its will be par­tic­u­larly high this Canada Day, when the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is to of­fi­cially in­tro­duce The Cannabis Act, also known as Bill C-45.

Woo-hoo! Isn’t this a great coun­try? Let’s party with Mary Jane! Who’s bring­ing the brown­ies? Only a dope would not cel­e­brate the le­gal­iza­tion of grass. But, of course, de­spite chang­ing at­ti­tudes, cannabis re­mains a com­plex, and se­ri­ous, sub­ject.

Which is why the lead-up to Le­gal Pot Day has been dom­i­nated by far too much fret­ting, pos­tur­ing, and cal­cu­lat­ing and not enough chill­ing.

The gov­ern­ment has said that its “goal for le­gal­iz­ing, strictly reg­u­lat­ing, and re­strict­ing ac­cess to cannabis is to keep cannabis out of the hands of Cana­dian youth, and to pre­vent or­ga­nized crime from con­tin­u­ing to profit from the il­le­gal cannabis mar­ket.” Crit­ics whine the whole idea is half-baked. Yet, those who think the hip­pies have fi­nally taken over, and are ru­in­ing what the elite Lib­er­als have not yet de­stroyed, ought to be re­minded that pot­heads pay taxes, and high rollers will pay even more taxes once they can pro­cure gov­ern­ment-ap­proved mar­i­juana.

Fis­cally re­spon­si­ble peo­ple should be pleased to know that taxes on 400,000 kilo­grams of mar­i­juana will amount to $1 bil­lion, per year. Plus, bur­geon­ing in­dus­tries are get­ting off the ground to grow, process, dis­trib­ute and sell the pop­u­lar flow­er­ing herbs. Spikes in po­tato chip sales will be just some of the other eco­nomic spin-offs to be gen­er­ated when tok­ing be­comes of­fi­cially le­git.

In On­tario, weed will only be sold legally by the On­tario Cannabis Retail Cor­po­ra­tion, a sub­sidiary of the Liquor Con­trol Board of On­tario. Of course, for the fore­see­able fu­ture, small com­mu­ni­ties will be de­prived of an­other vi­tal ser­vice be­cause none of the first 29 lo­ca­tions an­nounced so far is lo­cated in ru­ral parts of the prov­ince. How­ever, OCRC out­lets will be open in Ot­tawa and Kingston, which are both lovely places to visit. Ba­si­cally, pot will be reg­u­lated the same way alcohol is now. One ex­cep­tion is that adults will be able to pro­duce their own mari- juana legally.

Once the law is in ef­fect, adults will be able to buy fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil, plants and seeds for cul­ti­va­tion from ei­ther a provin­cially or ter­ri­to­ri­ally reg­u­lated re­tailer, or where this op­tion is not avail­able, di­rectly from a fed­er­ally li­censed pro­ducer.

There will be lim­its on pos­ses­sion and pro­duc­tion. Peo­ple will be al­lowed to have up to 30 grams of dried le­gal cannabis or equiv­a­lent in pub­lic and share that same amount with other adults.

Green thumbs will be per­mit­ted to cul­ti­vate up to four plants in their own home and “al­ter cannabis at home in or­der to pre­pare vary­ing types of cannabis prod­ucts (e.g., ed­i­bles) for per­sonal use pro­vided that no dan­ger­ous or­ganic sol­vents are used in the process.”

Many dry, yet vi­tal, con­sid­er­a­tions must be con­sid­ered as July 1 ap­proaches.

“Ris­ing to the lo­cal chal­lenge of cannabis le­gal­iza­tion” is the lead-in to a warn­ing from the Fed­er­a­tion of Cana­dian Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, cau­tion­ing that “the na­tion­wide le­gal­iza­tion of non-med­i­cal cannabis by the sum­mer of 2018 presents ma­jor chal­lenges for all or­ders of gov­ern­ment.”

“And of course, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties form the or­der of gov­ern­ment clos­est to daily life and com­merce -- build­ing more liv­able com­mu­ni­ties, han­dling crises, and do­ing what it takes to keep res­i­dents safe and wellserved. We are also very much on the front lines of im­ple­ment­ing this new fed­eral com­mit­ment. Our ci­ties and com­mu­ni­ties, af­ter all, are the places where non-med­i­cal cannabis will be legally sold and con­sumed,” states FCM pres­i­dent Jenny Ger­basi, Deputy-Mayor of Win­nipeg. “Get­ting this right is a big job,” she points out. “Lo­cal gov­ern­ments will face sig­nif­i­cant new en­force­ment and op­er­a­tional chal­lenges in the months and years ahead. And those chal­lenges don’t end with polic­ing. There is a world of by­laws to de­velop and busi­ness li­cens­ing rules to re­view.”

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have re­ceived guides so lo­cal of­fi­cials, who love to worry about risk mit­i­ga­tion and due dili­gence, can en­sure that the bur­den im­posed by the new fed­eral law is sus­tain­able.

The in­for­ma­tion pack­age deals with topics such as land use man­age­ment, lo­ca­tion and scale of cul­ti­va­tion and pro­cess­ing, per­sonal cul­ti­va­tion, pub­lic con­sump­tion, pro­mo­tions, ad­ver­tis­ing, sig­nage and mar­i­juana in the work­place. The burn­ing ques­tion: “Can I bring weed brown­ies to the staff party?” Prob­a­bly not, un­less you want a visit from the On­tario Pro­vin­cial Po­lice. The law states that no per­son shall con­sume cannabis in a work­place. Nat­u­rally, lawyers are work­ing even more over­time to pre­pare for all of the le­gal fall-out that will in­evitably be cre­ated in this brave, new, hazy world of ours.

Some of the rules are still fuzzy, yet em­ploy­ers are be­ing ad­vised that mar­i­juana ought to be treated the same way alcohol and il­licit sub­stances are han­dled in the work­place.

What about an em­ployee who wanted to bring a joint to the of­fice and light it af­ter work? Or, would it be fine for a worker to take a few “hits” dur­ing lunch?

If an em­ployer does not want the work en­vi­ron­ment to stink of booze, why would a com­pany tol­er­ate the stench of grass, now that pot is le­gal?

Like mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, pri­vate sec­tor busi­nesses have many con­cerns to tend to; they cer­tainly do not want to have to deal with “reefer mad­ness.”

De­spite le­git­i­mate wor­ries about the long-term ram­i­fi­ca­tions of le­gal­ized pot, it is highly un­likely that mar­i­juana use will sud­denly go through the roof sim­ply be­cause smok­ing up is now le­gal.

But it is safe to say that af­ter this Canada Day, our coun­try will be a much dif­fer­ent, and pos­si­bly hap­pier, place.

Le­gal­ized pot will lead to a new “world of by­laws”

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