A new and potentially dangerous era is dawning: MP Sorenson

Liberals didn’t address stakeholder concerns before legalizing cannabis

By Kevin Sorenson, MP

Battle River – Crowfoot

On Oct. 17, marijuana became legal in Canada and I, for one, was not celebrating this new era. I have serious concerns about the potential consequences of the Liberal government’s failed approach to this legalization including; the serious health repercussions, safety on our roads and the unruly and confusing patchwork of regulations across the country.

In a rush to meet his self-imposed political deadline, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed to adequately address the many concerns of municipalities, law enforcement, employers, scientists and doctors about the use and abuse of legalized cannabis.

Just days before legalization came into force, the Trudeau government admitted there is no conclusive way to determine if someone is driving high. This has left our law enforcement officials in limbo, with several police forces across the country refusing to use government-approved testers. While on the eve of legalization the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) said they are prepared to deal with drug-impaired driving, during testimony before the Standing Committee on Health, D/Chief Mike Serr, of the CACP Drug Advisory Committee said “The lesson we learned from Colorado and Washington State was that you need to start [public education] now. We needed to start a year ago, quite frankly. There are some misconceptions out there about youth and drug-impaired driving and the dangers.”

An editorial from a recent Canadian Medical Association Journal was cited in the National Post on October 17th in which there was the warning “that Canada was launching a national, uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.” The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) strongly cautioned that the legal sale of cannabis could result in a problem for 1 in 3 adults and an addiction for 1 in 10, with higher risks for youth. During their testimony before the Standing Committee on Health on September 11th, 2018, the CMA said “we still want to set the age at 21, and maybe 25, because the damage done to the brain will be permanent.”

Also on the day of “free the weed”, the National Post, after doing their “homework” listed what they believe will be just some of the “unexpected consequences of pot legalization” including: “in many places, it’s actually going to get much harder to score weed; it won’t make the government all that much money; you’re going to stop hearing pot referred to as medicine; car crashes are likely to go up; a whole lot more newborns are poised to fail drug tests; and get ready for lots of stoned dogs and children.” To get the full rationale behind these consequences, I encourage you to read the October 17th edition of the Post.

While I continue to oppose the legalization of marijuana, I do recognize that the horse, so-to-speak, is out of the barn. I therefore, encourage the Liberal government to finally initiate a strong and effective public education campaign to ensure all Canadians are aware of the new rules as well as the potentially dangerous consequences of the use and abuse of marijuana. I also suggest they continue to work with the provinces and territories to create standardized rules to alleviate the uncertainty and confusion from coast to coast.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail Kevin.Sorenson.c1@parl.gc.ca.

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