Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced recreational marijuana will be legal in Canada as of Oct. 17. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

UPDATED: Red Deer area MPs worry about cannabis legalization

Recreational marijuana to become legal Oct. 17

As the four-month countdown begins to the legalization of recreational marijuana, a Red Deer MP maintains it is still a bad idea.

“I’ve been frustrated by it completely. I’ve always been against drugs of any kind,” said Red Deer-Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen from Ottawa on Wednesday.

“This idea that it’s going to keep it out of the hands of children is very naive. And the suggestion that it will all of a sudden take it away from the criminal element, I don’t believe that is going to happen either,” said the Conservative Member of Parliament.

On Tuesday the Senate passed the Cannabis Act. On Wednesday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced recreational marijuana will be legal in Canada as of Oct. 17.

Dreeshen said people he has spoken to in Central and South America say legalization creates another corridor for criminality.

“And with that criminality comes human trafficking, and other kinds of drugs that come through, as well as weapons. They just scratch their heads and wonder what it is that we’re trying to do.

“This is unique to the world.”

He said legalization is going to put a lot of pressure on police departments to be trained on screening devices to detect drug impaired driving and to be ready for other changes to policing.

Dreeshen said there are mental health impacts, particularly on youth, who use marijuana.

“The normalizing of it is a concern I have,” Dreeshen said.

Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins said the medical community says that it isn’t until age 25 that the brain is developed enough to handle cannabis, however the legal age will remain 18.

“We’ve been saying all along this is a big step. There are still a lot more questions than there are answers. It seems to be motivated more by a political deadline than doing due diligence,” Calkins said.

“A lot of things still need to come together in very short order to make this happen and we all know what happens when you rush things.”

He said municipalities in his riding are still in the process of preparing for legalization.

“The City of Red Deer, down to some of our smaller villages, are at varying stages of being ready for everything that comes with this when it comes to zoning, when it comes to enforcement, when it comes to places for consumption,” Calkins said.

Dreeshen said municipalities face the downloading of costs associated with legalization. Employers and employees must also be prepared, he said.

“It’s not very well thought out, but now the key thing is protection just to make sure when people are working on a work site that the employers know what the consequences will be and the employees understand what the consequences will be as well,” Dreeshen said.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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