It’s high time for federal pot laws and it’s been high time for awhile now.
Canadians were probably anticipating the Liberal government to move more quickly on a campaign promise to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana. Finally, we’ve been told that pot will be legal by July 1, 2018.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to be something of a wild west for weed, and that’s created challenges.
Since the federal government came to power in the fall of 2016, the expectation of legalization has brought about complications. Laws against dealing and possessing weed remain in place, alongside a scattered strategy of ignoring, regulating or raiding dispensaries, or an unpredictable combination of those approaches.
Just this month, we’ve been dealing with a couple of different weed woes in Nanaimo. Island Health decided it should be regulating edible pot as a foodstuff. The health authority is on the mark, but to carry out its intentions, it needs to try to enforce its regulations on unlicenced businesses dealing drugs in a hazy legal limbo. Then this week, pot talk was passed around the council table as city councillors discussed the merits of a ‘good neighbour’ agreement to guide dispensary issues such as location, consumption and odours. Most dispensaries are already good neighbours – just as long as we’re OK with shady dealings going on next door. A gentleman’s agreement would have some appeal, except that it could be seen to legitimize these operations.
Community responses are being left to local governments, health authorities and police precisely because decision-making has been downloaded. It’s no wonder cities are handling things differently. It’s no wonder communities are experiencing the same sort of problems, and unique ones. It’s no wonder there’s confusion.
Between now and July 1, 2018, the feds need to keep Canadians in the legalization loop through every step of the process, as fully and completely as reasonably possible. It’s our communities that are being asked to cope with lawlessness, so we should be among the first to know what the laws will look like.