Article by Times Colonist
Has Ottawa led marijuana-dispensary owners up the garden path? Are municipalities that have begun licensing these outlets jumping the gun? Judging by remarks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made in Victoria last week, that might indeed be the case.
During the 2015 federal election campaign, the Liberal Party promised to legalize marijuana. The party also said it would regulate and restrict access to the drug, but not surprisingly, the message most Canadians heard was that legalization is on the way.
However, during his visit here last week, the prime minister appeared to walk back, or at least qualify, that promise: “I cannot stress enough that until we have a framework to control and regulate marijuana, the current law applies.”
That is saying the drug remains illegal if sold without a physician’s prescription. And it can only be construed as a warning against premature licensing of dispensaries.
The arrest this week of marijuana retailers Marc and Jodie Emery is a reminder that limits are still in place.
Are Trudeau and his advisers having second thoughts? Medical authorities are troubled about the potential health hazards of smoking any burned plant material. They point out that several constituents of marijuana smoke are carcinogens, and that inhalation is one of the least effective ways of absorbing the active ingredient.
Most physicians are strongly opposed to acting as gatekeepers if marijuana is legalized, since there is insufficient research into its effectiveness or its side-effects.
Inevitably, some of these concerns will have been included in briefings for the prime minister. What might have appeared straightforward at the outset might no longer look as simple.