Calgary Senator Doug Black said the time has come to legalize recreational marijuana.
“There are too many young people who are using marijuana or have used marijuana that risk getting a criminal record, or have a criminal record.
“It’s tough enough for young people in this country now without starting out your career and your process of building a career dragging around a criminal conviction over marijuana,” said the independent senator during a stop in Lacombe last Friday to speak to the local Rotary Club.
“That’s a bad thing for this economy.”
As well, the current state of affairs means there are billions of dollars going to the “bad guys that should be going to the good guys,” he said, adding that money could be spent on roads, schools and hospitals.
The Senate voted last month to approve in principle the Liberal government’s bill to legalize recreational marijuana. Five different Senate committees will now scrutinize the legislation before it returns to the upper house for debate and a final vote on June 7.
Black said there will be issues to be ironed out.
“Are there difficulties with implementation? Of course, there are going to be difficulties with implementation.
“I worry principally about policing and the extra demands to be put upon officers.”
One of the thorny issues facing politicians is determining how much marijuana can be smoked or consumed for someone to be considered impaired and the lack of roadside technology similar to a breathalyzer.
“Law enforcement officers and the police association are saying, (we are) happy to enforce it but what are we enforcing and how do we test?”
That issue needs to be worked out “pretty quickly actually,” he said.
The challenges of legalizing marijuana can be addressed, he believes.
“I just don’t think we want to be in too big a rush here.”