Article by Kelly McParland, National Post
Proponents of open and easy access to legalized marijuana will not be pleased by the tone of a new discussion paper released by the federal government. If anyone thought the breezy support for recreational pot offered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the campaign trail would translate into neighbourhood “dispensaries” peddling a rich and varied assortment of products to passing clients, they will be deeply disappointed. The plan looks much more likely to be about control, policing and regulation. Fun has nothing to do with it.
The paper is titled Towards the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana. That offers a sense of the government’s thinking as it works toward legislation to legalize the drug, which has been promised for next spring. A key concern of the authors is the avoidance of “normalization” — i.e., preventing the impression that Ottawa actually approves of marijuana use — which might inspire Canadians to actually buy the stuff. While the paper acknowledges the controlled use of marijuana has valid medical benefits, it evidently sees recreational use as an unpleasant reality that needs to be discouraged, even as it is reluctantly tolerated.
In this, the document may be more in line with public opinion than marijuana proponents like to admit. While an overwhelming majority of Canadians tell pollsters they favour legalization, they also show strong support for federal controls over access, quality and distribution.