Roundtable: Legalization can't be rushed

Credit: 
Tessa Warburton
A shift in a drug’s regulation must be done right. The legalization of marijuana will only be successful if the agencies are fully able to handle the increased responsibility that comes with it.
 
The role of a democratically elected government is to act in line with its citizens’ wishes. Canada’s recent legalization of marijuana did that; a majority of Canadians wanted marijuana legalized. 
 
The therapeutic or medicinal qualities marijuana have become more accessible for Canadians. Legalization also weakens the market of illegal drug sales and crime, and it opens the door for consumer to invest in a booming industry—something that benefits the domestic economy. 
 
With business investment in Canada already lower than in other industrialized countries, the existence of a new market for investors will attract more taxable capital.
 
Comparatively, arguments against legalization state there will be negative 
effects on vulnerable youth and at-risk communities, and that it’ll result in a monopoly for the federal government.
 
While these negative aspects hold some validity, they’re not persuasive enough to draw support from large numbers of Canadians, making legalization the popular and correct course of action.
 
However, necessary societal change is only successful when all parties involved are prepared to deal with possible 
negative consequences.
 
While provincial and municipal governments welcome the chance to collect tax dollars from marijuana sales, police forces across the country have been sounding the alarm that they have not been properly equipped or funded to detect marijuana impaired drivers. 
 
In the time between the 2016 federal election and legalization on Oct. 17, Health Canada has approved only one device to conduct roadside tests of impairment. To make matters worse, the device has a minimum operating temperature of four degrees celsius—an issue considering Canadian winters. 
 
After the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, there was an increase in fatalities involving cannabis-impaired drivers. The news that police forces in Canada will either be unable to detects impairment—or guarantee the results of the device that detects impairment—should’ve been prioritized before marijuana was legalized. 
 
Legalizing marijuana will provide social and economic benefits to Canada, but without being able to control or minimize the possible effect it has on public safety, this rushed decision is irresponsible. 
 
Graham McKitrick is a third-year Philosophy  major. 

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