Ontario plans ‘safe and sensible’ framework for pot

by | Sep 22, 2017 | Life

Demetre James Politis

Life Reporter

Ontario released a “safe and sensible” framework in response to the federal government’s plan to legalize cannabis by July.

The framework, released Sept 8, will set the minimum age to buy and use cannabis to 19 and allow LCBO to sell in stand-alone stores, according to an Ontario press release.

About 150 stores will open by 2020 and will sell cannabis separate from alcohol and consumption will be confined to private residences.

People won’t be able to buy edible products, and private cannabis dispensaries will remain illegal.

Ontario is also planning an increased enforcement strategy to shut down all illegal dispensaries, after several raid operations, including the most recent Canna Clinic raids in June that led to 80 charges.

“Preliminary work is underway at Humber to prepare for the potential implications of the legislation for our campus,” Andrew Leopold, Humber’s director of communications, said,

He said Humber College will align its campus policies with the legislative requirements governing the sale and use of marijuana, as well as focus its approach on safe use.

“With new legislation, we anticipate the need to provide additional health education regarding safe and responsible cannabis use and the potential implications of use on mental health, especially for those under 25,” Leopold said.

While the government is set to take full control of the lucrative cannabis industry, cannabis use and safety remains a public concern. Whether cannabis should be sold through the public or private sector, and which sector could do a better job at protecting the youth, are questions Torontonians continue to ask.

Daniel Bear, a criminal justice professor at Humber, researches  drugs policy and the policing of drugs.

He said government monopolies are preferable from a public health perspective. However, it’s a matter of how well the government responds to demand.

“The challenge is if the government monopoly is unpopular or unable to provide the product or the access that people want, then it doesn’t matter if there’s a public health benefit in the government sector if the people aren’t actually willing to buy from the government,” Bear said.

Aside from the challenge of connecting with the culture, Bear said pricing cannabis appropriately is an additional complexity the federal government must figure out.

“Theoretically, the private sector would be able to do lower prices,” Bear said. “Government bureaucracies tend not to be cheap, but there’s a sweet spot in there, where the prices are low enough to undercut the black market, but not so low as to encourage use beyond which is already sort of naturally in our society.”

Julian Oreskovic, a 17-year-old electrical engineering and control systems student, said while he doesn’t use cannabis himself, he respects the freedom of being able to at a legal age.

“I think if you’re old enough, then go for it. I don’t do it myself, but it’s your choice,” Oreskovic said.