Article by Neil Macdonald, CBC News
How much do you trust your government?
It’s the eternal American question, but one Canadians should be asking themselves, too.
Because in a few months, we will presumably all wake up free — for the first time in any of our lives — to legally possess recreational cannabis.
And with that new freedom will come a new relationship with government. Government, which has for generations policed and prosecuted cannabis use, now wants to become our dealer, too, with tools to learn and record every detail of our consumption habits.
Legalization is only sensible. It was good to hear former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, now a Liberal MP and Justin Trudeau’s point man on the file, tell me flatly that there is no evidence cannabis is a “gateway drug,” the canard authorities have used for so long to justify ruining so many people’s lives.
Criminalizing cannabis was and is stupid, destructive, wasteful, racist in practice, and profoundly hypocritical, given the number of authority figures, up to and including the prime minister, who admit having used it themselves. (Blair hasn’t).
This summer, with legalization, the government intends to rectify that.
But what happens then?
Because regardless of political intent, the machinery of government and enforcement can be a dull-witted hive, entirely capable of ugly, unintended consequences.
Take, for example, the matter of the Americans.
Despite the fact that several states have long since legalized cannabis, it remains outlawed at the federal level. Perverse, but true.
Proven or admitted consumption of cannabis is grounds to exclude any non-citizen from the United States for life. Canadians have been barred for acknowledging to U.S. border agents that they smoke medical marijuana, and Canadian authorities have for many years provided American agencies with names of unfortunates arrested and convicted here of trifling pot offences, thereby colluding in a far greater punishment than any dispensed by the courts.