I have previously mentioned the scientifically available evidence for prescribing marijuana in its several compilations for the alleviation of pain and even the control of some psychiatric diagnoses. Decriminalizing the weed has the added benefits of eliminating criminal prosecution and its stigma for recreational usage as well as reducing the criminal element exposure. This will have the double benefit of reducing policing and court and incarceration costs significantly and the tax base of this new levy construct will generate legitimate capital. There is as well the added benefit of stabilizing product quality– specifically laboratory control on impurities very often present in previous illegal sources. It seems everybody from a Prime Minister to Premier even former police chiefs are being recruited to be the legitimate face of this neophyte corporate entity. How huge is this new commodity?
I just returned from Vancouver– admitted to be the leading edge of this new industry that is pegged to have a net value provincially of 7 BILLION dollars 2017! Another benefit will certainly be the technology-linked employment that will be generated in the many laboratories required to ensure the reliability and uniformity and toxin free status of this new product.
There are RED FLAGS, however….many of them. It’s a fact that our underage children are some of the more prominent experimenters with smoking marijuana. The government will be ethically and morally obliged to counter this trend. But how? Currently, it is estimated that 50% of current product is not criminal in origin but home-grown for personal use or comes from small mom/pop neighborhood suppliers who will continue under the radar. In Vancouver it is amusingly referred to as boutique bud.
Marijuana is NOT the panacea for all mankind’s ills as some of the current promoters are suggesting. it is not a cure for cancer. Remember the Marlboro Man when big tobacco convinced us there was no downside to cigarettes? Marijuana is a plant product and when inhaled releases at least as many toxic substances and carcinogens as regular tobacco. Some of the claimed benefits include usage during pregnancy. This is an absolutely ridiculous claim– so false that the Canadian Medical Association has issued a caution in advance of legalization.
At present, about 17% of Canadians acknowledge a cigarette habit but the estimate of Canadian consumption of cannabis is believed to be closer to 30%. This begs the question how do we monitor usage in the workplace and/or recreational usage while, for example, driving a car or private airplane or boat. Road side testing for alcohol abuse is an established and straight forward process. Cannabis is a different problem. Is that driver smiling because he is happy or under the influence? There is no roadside test currently available. There are saliva sampling and other more sophisticated procedures but these would require going back to the station, thereby removing officers from regular patrol for extended periods. I cannot find any reference in the legislation defining what constitutes impairment and the physiologic time frame before the impairment ceases. Further, there is no objectivity in the response the individual experiences to single or habitual use. What concerns me more is the issue of public vehicle control by users. This includes transit workers, truck drivers and a host of others. Euphoria is a common presentation of use. Do you want your lawyer or your dentist or your doctor using? How many of us are sufficiently knowledgeable to recognize a buzz? Can we or should we trust medical usage to be self regulating?
Workplace law is very fuzzy on this subject. Some employers are allowed to screen workers pre-employment but traditionally our Court system has discouraged random testing. In fact, most workplace mandated testing has been investigative after the fact of an event. Sadly, strong unions are proponents of the no-test attitude seemingly more concerned with the employment status of their membership than with the safety of the public.
We’re at the starting gate on this one. Let’s not make the same mistakes we made with tobacco. There’s much gold to be made in that gold. Corporate Canada is already lined up at the trough but this is a public safety and a public health issue first.