Tara on the Federal Legalization of Marijuana
If re-elected as Mayor on October 16th, how do you propose to address the local safety and social impacts of the Federal legalization of recreational marijuana?
Both Provincial and Federal policy changes with respect to drug usage will have significant effect on how we respond to Red Deer’s crime and some of the social challenges we are experiencing. The unintended consequences of the Federal Government’s legalization of marijuana have yet to be realized, but it is imperative that municipalities take a strong position now and begin preparing for the July 2018 implementation date that the Federal Government has dictated. One of the pillars of my 2017 Safety Platform is as follows:
- Establish a strong local and regional regulatory response to the Federal Government’s legalization of marijuana.
While “strong response” can mean many things, there are a few areas where I believe our City needs to take a strong stance to help buffer our community from the unintended consequences of Federal legislative changes. The following are some areas where the City has jurisdiction or could attempt to influence through advocacy.
- Restrictive zoning to limit the proliferation of marijuana retailers.
- Ongoing advocacy to the Federal and Provincial Governments to prohibit products that would be appealing to children such as THC candies.
- Clear packaging with full disclosure of THC content to prevent accidental ingestion.
- Advocacy to the Provincial Government to increase the age limit to 21 years of age. (While I recognize this is different from other rights and privileges in Alberta conferred at the age of 18, our Council adopted age 21 in recognition of scientific studies that demonstrate detrimental effects of marijuana on brain development until the age of 25. We pragmatically adopted 21 in recognition that the province was unlikely to accept an advocacy position of age 25.)
- Work with other municipalities in the region to ensure we all adopt a similar approach to prevent strong regulations in one municipality from being undermined by insufficient regulations on the other side of a municipal border.
- Continue to advocate for reliable impairment testing that will be upheld by the Courts to assist Police Officers in removing impaired drivers from the road.
Above all, the next Council needs to support the concerns publicly expressed by Police Chiefs across the country, namely that the July 2018 implementation is unreasonable for Provincial and Municipal Governments to establish a thorough policy response and for law enforcement to establish a subsequent operational response. I completely agree with this observation and believe it to be a significant risk if the Federal law is enacted before local governments can effectively respond in the safety interests of the people we serve.