Marijuana should be treated as a public health and safety issue and governments should shy away from using it to raise revenue. That is the biggest takeaway from the report released Tuesday by the federal task force on pot legalization. Its 80 recommendations provide a roadmap that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should follow.
The task force’s report says there are big problems with selling alcohol and pot together, noting that some 80 per cent of Canadians drink while only 11 per cent use pot. “There is a significant risk of cannabis and cannabis advertising being introduced to a large number of Canadians who might not otherwise use cannabis,” it warns.
The public-health approach is evident even in its recommendation that age 18 be set as the national minimum to purchase marijuana. Health professionals prefer a minimum age of 21, but the task force felt such restrictions would only preserve the less-safe black market.“What matters is how we teach parents, children, the public about what the potential risks of cannabis use,” said task force vice-chairman Mark Ware.
The Liberals now have a set of thoughtful, clear recommendations on a complicated issue. Much remains to be sorted out, such as what constitutes impaired driving under a legal-pot regime, but the report gives the Trudeau government a fighting chance at framing coherent laws.