Denial to the nth degree
Council received a letter from the Region of Durham last week informing them that the region had recently adopted a motion authorizing Regional Chair Roger Anderson to write to the federal and provincial governments “requesting to delay the implementation of the sale of marijuana until Durham Police and area municipalities have an opportunity to review the impact the legislation will have on their processes.”
It is currently October. Legalized sale of marijuana is not set to begin until July 1 next year at the earliest. That’s 10 months away, surely time enough to do any reviews the region, its municipalities and its police force might think appropriate.
If said parties start complaining that 10 months is not enough time, they had better be ready to answer a question usually aimed at Mr. Christie in television ads: What took you so long?
Quite simply, because they have been, and still are, in denial.
It cannot have escaped anyone’s attention that, four years ago, one of the major planks in the Liberal Party platform in the 2015 federal general election promised the legalization – or at least, decriminalization – of cannabis. When the Liberals won the election and proceeded with implementing their stated goal two years ago, why didn’t the region, the municipalities and the police start doing their reviews then? As the Liberal government moved apace over the next two years to fulfill at least one of their election promises, why didn’t the region, the municipalities and the police give up their denial and start reviewing processes? Many probably thought the marijuana legislation would somehow be sidetracked or even derailed if enough police chiefs and politicians squawked. Some probably hoped to delay marijuana sales long enough to see a new government come into power and shut the whole thing down.
They have been in denial far too long. There are many who have known for years that this day would eventually come. For the region to now say they need time to review how it is going to impact them is pure hogwash.
Of course, such a letter to the feds and the province won’t have any effect at all. It likely will be “received for information,” a term commonly thrown around in council meetings which translates into “relegated to the circular file.” We would suggest the main purpose of the motion and the letter is to stir up that part of the population which has no experience or knowledge about marijuana in a belated attempt to turn back the tide.
As far as we can see, the only thing the above-mentioned parties have to be concerned about is how to deal with motorists driving under the influence of marijuana. And, once again, as far as we can see, that is already covered by the laws against impaired driving.
When the sale of marijuana is made legal, there should be no added burden on municipalities issuing business licences to retailers. They already have zoning bylaws on the books to regulate what areas such retailers should be allowed in. Since marijuana growing operations come under the jurisdiction of Health Canada, there’s nothing there for the region, the municipalities or the police to concern themselves with. And legislation restricting the sale of alcohol and tobacco products to people under the age of 18 will easily be adapted to cover the sale of marijuana products. (Whether that legislation is effective in keeping tobacco and alcohol out of the hands of youth is another debate).
We would suggest that the only thing the region, the municipalities and the police need to review is how much additional revenue they can make when marijuana sales become legal: the region and the municipalities from additional business licences and taxes, the police from the savings they will realize by not having to fill out reams of paperwork and the court time they will not have to endure to prosecute someone with a joint.