Marijuana legislation

Despite its enormous deleterious consequences, abuse of psychoactive drugs (e.g. marijuana, alcohol, stimulants and opiates) has always been part of the human condition and as far as we know today, it always will be. This being the case, the question becomes how best to reduce consumption.

Because there is no perfect solution (i.e. no drug use), society is left to choose the best approach from a list of less than ideal options. As the so called "war on drugs” strategy that was supported by previous governments has been an abysmal failure, the federal Liberal government’s plan to shift gears and legalize marijuana is enlightened, courageous, and certainly worth trying. However, unless we get the details of this strategy right it could easily turn out to be as bad as or even worse than what exists.

The primary goal of any socially responsible drug policy must be to limit harm by reducing consumption.  There are 3 points that the federal, provincial and municipal governments must get right in order to achieve that goal:

1. Absolutely no advertising or promotion of any marijuana products.

2. All sales must be made exclusively through government outlets such as LCB or provincial "marijuana only” sales facilities. Why? Because sales through privately owned facilities would inevitably lead to competition for market share via covert advertising and other competitive activities. Additionally private, profit driven stores would encourage staff to sell the store’s offerings whereas there would be no such motivation in salaried government employees. It is also worth mentioning that employees in government operated stores would be paid a decent living wage with benefits while employees in private stores would likely receive minimum wage and no benefits. Does our province really need more people trying to survive on minimum wage?

3. Taxes generated by the sale of marijuana must be used exclusively for drug prevention, research and treatment programs.

We have a wonderful opportunity to develop a drug policy that will benefit people now and in the future. Our municipal and provincial representatives must get this right.

Chris Fibiger

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