Standing in Ontario’s legislative chamber, the province’s Attorney General made history this month with the introduction of legislation to legalize recreational marijuana.
He did so with the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for a prostate exam.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Yasir Naqvi, was at great pains to explain the primary goal of the “Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act” was to make sure anyone who shouldn’t be enjoying pot, doesn’t.
“Throughout the legislation, prevention and education is the most important aspect as it relates to our young people,” Naqvi said.
Ontario’s new standalone marijuana shops will only sell to those 19 and older and the provincial mail order business will require a signature at the door to ensure pot isn’t delivered to minors.
Keeping intoxicants away from kids should be the goal of all rules governing the escapist poisons we allow ourselves as adults, but surely our political leaders could lighten up a little about the prospect of moms and dads sparking a legal fatty at the end of long week?
If legal recreational marijuana is the desire of the majority of Canadians, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s majority would indicate that it is, then lawmakers should stop acting as if anything other than dire warnings might unleash an Armageddon of reefer madness.
It’s OK to want legal pot. It will soon be OK to buy legal pot.
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But don’t expect legislators to be happy about selling it to you. For a drug that induces the giggles, Ontario’s approach to legal weed is a serious downer.
If you do choose to darken the doors of the soon-to-open legal marijuana stores, you can almost expect a sign above the exit saying ‘Thank You, Please Don’t Come Again Soon.’
And yet the province is embarking on what could be a costly retail scheme to sell it to us.
Sure, down the road at the LCBO you can find fancy displays pushing the latest hooch with a glossy mag thrown in for good measure. And yes, there is plenty of scientific evidence about the destructive health and societal impacts of alcohol abuse. And yes the LCBO has poured record amounts of money into the provincial treasury year after year happily selling us what we want.
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But somehow pot is not booze and every link in the political food chain is intent on convincing us it’s not about the cash.
But one gander at stock prices of cannabis companies on the TSX and it’s pretty obvious someone, somewhere is making money, and not just the criminal element.
Will Stewart, a principal with Navigator Ltd who advises legal cannabis companies, says: “There is clearly profit to be made in legal medical and recreational cannabis.”
And for governments who initially seem so profit-adverse, there is a big windfall coming. Stewart says if the province can keep prices low now, it “will reap far bigger rewards in the future.”
Is it too much to ask of our political leaders to dial down their declarations of noble purpose and just be, umm, straight with us?
So what if there’s money to be made at legal weed? If Ontario stoners want to help buy the province a few new MRI machines, let them.
It’s time to stop pretending otherwise.
Come (and get high) again soon!