Thanks to Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, Canada could be seeing the legalization of recreational marijuana come July 1, 2018.
There’s a lot to take into consideration now; how will the government go about regulating the sales? Will there be any way to test drivers who are potentially under the influence? What does this mean in terms of age restrictions?
While the current speculation is that we can expect to see marijuana being sold on the shelves of the LCBO and having it controlled under the same regulations as alcohol. I think it would be wiser to take a different approach. Taking a look at places that already have legalized and controlled marijuana sales, such as Amsterdam, Oregon and Colorado, having the ability to sell and regulate it within it’s own kind of store seem a lot easier.
Toronto has had a rough time in the past few months with dozens of pot dispensaries being busted week after week, culminating in the seizure of thousands of dollars worth of “product.” For the time being, these shops are illegal. However, once the laws change, dispensaries could be the best way to control the sales. There are already dozens of shops that sell marijuana “paraphernalia” in every city, but they don’t currently sell the drug itself.
In terms of testing for traces of marijuana in the bloodstream, it’s currently impossible to do so in a constrained time period. Unlike using a breathalyzer to test alcohol, weed is a little more complex. There are currently six methods in practice and none of them are necessarily easy, unless the police officers are going to start doing urine tests on the side of the road.
According to a study found in the British Medical Journal, drugged drivers can have decreased spatial perception, which can result in slower reaction times and cause swerving and tailgating — similar to effects of alcohol.
Until they come up with a quick and easy assessment, police officers are going to have to work with bloodshot eyes and the smell of weed, which isn’t concrete evidence. That doesn’t mean everyone should go out and get high and drive because they may not get caught. The same can be said for alcohol and that doesn’t make it right, responsible, safe or legal.
The legal age to purchase weed, once the laws are put in place, will reportedly be 18 years old — the same age to buy cigarettes. I find this kind of strange. The age at which the brain is said to stop developing is 25 years old, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website, and weed is said to affect the way the brain retains information and forms memories.
Having weed controlled by the government and having regulated sales will hopefully, in the long run, lower the chances that underage kids (18 and under) will get their hands on it.
While support for recreational marijuana is always a topic of controversy, I don’t see why it should be such a taboo subject. Stories of medical benefits derived from marijuana that have circulated the Internet from assisting with anxiety to subduing epilepsy are not undenyable evidence, but do help prove a point. People will continue to smoke pot despite the legality of the situation. I think it’s about time the government stepped up and followed in the footsteps of other “progressive” communities.