Article by David Brown, Lift
Parliamentary Secretary Bill Blair, Canada’s ‘point man on marijuana legalization,’ stopped by the NewsTalk 610 studios in Toronto today to discuss legalization and his current tour, in which he is listening to various stakeholders in the process.
While part of the interview was the usual government talking points about legalization—protecting kids, taking money away from gangs, age limits, etc.—Blair also mentioned issues of increased enforcement against those selling outside the legal system, concerns from law enforcement and municipal politicians at the idea of personal production, and he repeatedly emphasized that the government’s intent is to not promote the use of cannabis.
He also took the time to discuss a few key differences between Canada’s approach to legalization and the approach being taken by various US states: namely, the harm reduction approach taken by Canada as opposed to a ‘commercial/revenue’ based approach taken in the US.
While US Jurisdictions have legalized largely by a ballot initiative at a state level, Canada’s approach is to legalize fully at the federal level.
“In most of the American states, they began with a ballot initiative that said that ‘we’re going to legalize and tax it.’ So the regulatory regime they put in place was not a public health framework, it was a commercial framework—it was about how to maximize the revenue out of this thing. And one of the things they found very quickly is that there were a lot of unintended consequences by taking that approach.