Chris Warkentin isn’t holding much hope about the delay in marijuana legalization. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the TVA network in Quebec that July 1, 2018 will not be the day cannabis will become legal across Canada, instead indicating it would be “next summer”. The Grande Prairie – Mackenzie MP says the news initially came as a relief.
“We’re thankful that the prime minister may be forced to take a step back and to consider some of the concerns that Canadian municipalities and doctors and nurses across the country, as well as law enforcement officials, have been talking to the prime minister about and to members of parliament about.”
At the top of the issues Warkentin has heard are municipalities not feeling they have enough time to prepare, police officers not having the ability to test for drug-impaired driving, and medical professionals worried about use by young people. He says the federal Conservatives are hopeful the legislation will be held off long enough for them to be resolved.
“We don’t have much hope that he’s going to do that. He’s simply changing the date of the implementation, which is confusing, I think, to every Canadian.”
The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and several provinces have said they need more time to develop policies around federal legalization. Warkentin points to Colorado, which legalized marijuana for recreational purposes in 2012, and says he heard from officials there that they would have liked to have had a year to prepare.
“Education campaigns and those kinds of things, if they were able to roll those out a year in advance, they believe that they would have been far better prepared and there would have been far fewer negative consequences of the implementation of legalization.”
The CPC is hopeful the federal government will move faster to provide heath care professionals and law enforcement with the tools they need to handle legal pot before the legislation is passed.