Article by Nick Boisvert, CBC News
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health says the federal government should immediately decriminalize recreational pot possession in advance of upcoming legislation to legalize and regulate recreational cannabis.
“A significant number of young Canadians will continue to obtain criminal charges before cannabis is legalized,” Dr. Eileen de Villa warns in the report, which will be reviewed by Toronto’s Board of Health on Monday.
She estimates there will be approximately 59,000 charges and 22,000 convictions for simple possession by the time recreational cannabis is legalized in July 2018.
De Villa says those legal run-ins can hamper access to employment and housing, lead to social stigmatization and reduce economic status.
“Given that cannabis possession will soon be made lawful in Canada, it is recommended that the Board of Health urge the federal government to immediately decriminalize the possession of non-medical cannabis for personal use,” de Villa wrote.
In addition to her call for decriminalization, de Villa is recommending that the board pressure Ottawa to implement a wide range of cannabis policies in the name of public health.
The recommendations include:
- Comprehensive “plain packaging” rules – meaning packaging free of any branding or design.
- The establishment of new cannabis enforcement measures, including equity training to ensure the fair treatment of all population groups.
- Strengthened regulations on marketing and promotion, including prohibitions addressing movies, video games and other media directed at young people.
- The regulation of edible cannabis.