Article by Rob Breakenridge, Global News
Last Saturday marked not only the country’s 150th birthday but also the final one-year countdown to the official legalization of marijuana.
Interestingly, while Canada must wait until July 1st of next year, July 1st of 2017 saw the first legal sales of marijuana in the state of Nevada. And while July 1st, 2018 will represent almost three years since the election of the Trudeau Liberals, the state of Nevada voted to legalize marijuana only eight months ago.
That would appear to demonstrate that this entire process need not take as long as it has, and in the meantime there are real consequences of the odd legal grey zone we’ve created in the meantime. And for as much as the Liberals have taken their time on this, there are others who believe that the pace is still too quick, that we still have much to sort out before July of next year.
Of course, even if we legalized “too fast,” the worst case scenario would appear to be some months of regulatory uncertainty (oh, the horror!), whereas the situation we’re now in means thousands of people are being charged for something the government no longer believes is a crime.
How many more thousands of Canadians will be charged with pot possession over the next twelve months while nervous and fretful politicians fret about zoning regulations? Especially when one considers the tremendous strain our court system, these seems like an untenable situation.
Numbers released in early June show that since the Liberals election win in October of 2015, more than 15,000 Canadians have been charged with pot possession — including over 7,000 under the age of 25 — and of those, more that 2,000 have been convicted.
Just this past week we learned that most of the 90 or so individuals charged in a massive raid on Toronto marijuana dispensaries in May will not end up going to trial. 45 cases have been withdrawn or stayed, while another 27 were resolved through the use of peace bonds. While the burden on the court system is lessened, it raises questions about what the point of the raids was in the first place.