Column – Concerns about the Government plan to legalize marijuana

April 26, 2017

A recent piece of legislation introduced by the Government is their election promise to legalize marijuana.

I know many constituents are opposed to the legalization of marijuana. The official position of our Conservative Party has been to oppose outright legalization. Unfortunately, the Government has a different view on this issue, and they are forging ahead with outright legalization.

In light of this, I wish the Government would slow down the process by at least beginning with decriminalization, instead of going with full legalization so quickly.

I have been criss-crossing Bow River riding this past two weeks with my staff, and the message we have heard is that people are confused and concerned with the impact that the legalization will have, and especially in such a short time frame.

The province will set some base guidelines, such as the minimum legal age for when consumption is legal.

I have heard from countless municipal officials that they will have to scramble in order to develop special new by-laws for this new substance. It is unclear as to how they will enforce the licencing and the inspection of residences that are permitted to sell marijuana. The location where it is allowed to be sold and how is done by Municipal zoning and by-laws is another challenge.

There is also the question of higher policing costs as the enforcement is done and paid for by local taxpayers. There is significant debate over how drugs can be tested for in the operation of vehicles and equipment.

Ultimately the local property tax will be the source to pay for these new responsibilities.

I have also heard from municipal officials who are concerned that we are introducing a new toxin that individuals will be able to consume, while trying to essentially phase out other harmful substances, especially tobacco.

There is a fear that the federal government is rushing into this far too quickly, in order to fulfil a campaign promise. They have not considered the impact this will have on municipalities, which are the jurisdictions that will actually be enforcing these new laws at the end of the day.

I invite you to contact my office to share your thoughts on this or any other topic.

You can contact me in Brooks at martin.shields.c1@parl.gc.ca or 1-844-241-0020, in Strathmore at 403-361-2980  or martin.shields.c2@parl.gc.ca, or in Ottawa at martin.shields@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-0761.