Constituents in Battle River-Crowfoot are already voicing their concerns should marijuana be legalized. I will be bringing these concerns to the coming debates in the House of Commons as the Liberals proceed.
The Liberal government is mismanaging their election campaign promise to legalize marijuana to the extent that some Canadians are treating this “controlled drug”, as if it were already legal. The Liberals are not addressing the current proliferation of illegal, unregulated marijuana dispensaries. In Vancouver, there are already more illegal marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks coffee locations.
So far, the Liberals have created a task force to study the legalization of marijuana. This panel has only 5 months to study the issue. How is this panel going to thoroughly assess the potential legal, financial, moral and medical ramifications of legalizing the drug?
How are the Liberals going to address the public safety issue of people driving and operating heavy equipment while inebriated on marijuana? Will the Liberals try to pass a law that forbids companies from penalizing workers who arrive at work with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) still in their systems but not legally impaired? How will we know, or confirm the extent to which that someone is intoxicated by marijuana? How will they ensure work place safety when workers consume marijuana on the weekend but yet the THC remains in their system for several days or even weeks after?
How are the Liberals going to ensure that marijuana is going to be kept out of the hands of children? We are just now starting to get a handle on youth smoking, going from 6 per cent in 2010 to 4 per cent in 2013. There continues to be approximately 100,000 Canadian youth who regularly smoke cigarettes.
If we examine youth and alcohol use, the statistics show that 70 per cent of youth consume alcohol. Again, statistics show that approximately 20 per cent of Canadian youth are trying marijuana. That statistic is much higher than cigarette consumption rate and yet cigarettes are legal and much more easily obtained than marijuana.
At the recent Conservative Policy Convention, we passed a resolution stating, “…in order to expand the means which law enforcement authorities have at their disposal to combat drugs and their negative impacts, particularly among young people, and to reduce the volume of judicial proceedings, we recommend that peace officers be enabled to issue tickets for simple possession of small quantities of marijuana.”
Our policy resolution is in line with recommendations from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police on the marijuana file. They support providing front-line officers the ability to ticket individuals found with 30 grams of marijuana or less. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police do not recommend the legalization of marijuana.
I am certain that none of us want Canadians under the age of majority to be saddled with a life-long criminal record for minimal use marijuana, yet we want controls on this substance. I would like to include in my speeches in the House of Commons during the coming debates your views as well.
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.