Pot law not focusing on health and safety of Canadians

Taken from: The Record
On April 13, the Liberal government introduced legislation that would allow for the recreational use of marijuana for Canadians over the age of 18, and eliminate penalties for possession of marijuana (up to five grams) for those between the ages of 12 and 18.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government have repeated time and time again that the aim of this legislation is to protect our children and increase public safety. However, neither of these goals is accomplished with this legislation. This is not just my view. In a recent Angus Reid poll, approximately two in three Canadians (66 per cent) said they believe that this legislation fails to prevent young people from using marijuana more than they already do.

While the government claims that it makes decisions based on facts and science, this legislation proves otherwise as groups such as the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) and the Canadian Chiefs of Police (CCP) all oppose certain aspects of the bill. Both the medical and psychiatric associations have stated that Canadians who consume marijuana recreationally under the age of 25 have a higher risk of developing mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

“Regular cannabis use in youth and young adults can affect aspects of cognition, including attention, memory, processing speed, visuospatial functioning and overall intelligence,” according to the Canadian Psychiatric Association. “Worse performance is related to earlier adolescent onset of use.”

Negative health affects related to the recreational use of marijuana isn’t exclusive to children, as the Canadian Medical Association notes: “Marijuana use is linked to several adverse health outcomes, including addiction, cardiovascular and pulmonary effects (e.g., chronic bronchitis), mental illness, and other problems, including cognitive impairment and reduced educational attainment.”

The Society for the Study of Addiction has found that regular use of marijuana for one in 10 users results in a dependence problem. If usage started in adolescence, that number is one in six. It is clear that the negative health effects of marijuana are not being taken seriously by this government and the steps they are taking now will have long-lasting negative effects on Canadians.

Since legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, the state of Washington has seen drastic increases in vehicular deaths related to driving under the influence of marijuana. “Authorities in Washington recorded 436 fatal crashes in 2013, and determined that drivers involved in 40 crashes tested positive for THC, the active chemical in marijuana, according to the study (by the American Automobile Association). In 2014, they found that of 462 fatal crashes, 85 drivers tested positive for THC,” the Washington Post reported.

Also concerning is the fact that the American Automobile Association says there are no proven blood or urine tests that can determine how high a person is from marijuana, but only determines if marijuana is in their system.

I have heard from officers in the Waterloo Regional Police Service on this issue and they say our police forces are not properly funded or equipped to handle these new dangers. It’s clear that while the government is going to rush ahead with legalizing recreational marijuana, it is not with the health and safety of Canadians in mind.

“If Parliament truly cares about the public health and safety of Canadians, especially our youth, this bill will not pass,” said Dr. Diane Kelsall in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Harold Albrecht is member of Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga.