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Editorial: The marijuana learning curve

St. Anthony business leaders don’t believe the cannabis industry will be profitable on the Great Northern Peninsula.
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The countdown is officially on.

It’s 113, then 112, then 111 … the number of days until marijuana is officially legalized in Canada on Oct. 17.

And while that still seems like a long time, there’s plenty to be done — and plenty of questions to be answered — before then.

While it’s definitely more time than the original plan — which was for legalization by July — there is still a huge volume of questions to be answered.

Questions about driving while impaired by drugs are going to be addressed by drug recognition officers — something that is still, at best, an informed opinion, rather than an empirical standard of measurement.

Some provinces have one standard for the number of plants that can be grown. Others have another. A few can’t answer if plants can be grown outside — and, if they can, what kind of fencing might be required, for example.

We haven’t heard yet if growing plants or smoking weed inside will have impacts on home insurance rates. Pre-legalization, landlords could find to their great distress that tenants involved with illegal drugs could also void property insurance. Most provinces seem to have melded two different kinds of standards (those for drinking alcohol and those for public smoking of tobacco) into a kind of hybrid legislation that is, as yet, untested. It hasn’t even had anything like a full-speed run-through.

Many provinces have their basic marijuana legislation in place, but still have to build the regulations that become laws.

So where are we?

Perhaps at a point where we have to stop and recognize that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and marijuana legislation isn’t going to be constructed that way either.

With every hiccup, there are going to be people who say, “See, this is why we should never have legalized weed.” At the same time, those roadblocks will cause those on the other side of the spectrum to claim the federal government has somehow been dishonest, and doesn’t want legalization to work.

The truth is something else again.

Other jurisdictions have managed to legalize marijuana, but nothing much like it has been done in our system, at least not in a long time.

Let’s hope that everyone involved — individual users, neighbours, landlords, tenants, police officers, politicians — recognize how much of a learning curve is involved here, and how many small housekeeping modifications — and perhaps even larger fundamental changes — are going to be required to make the system function smoothly.

There are going to be false steps, mistakes and probably, sadly, tragedies.

The end goal is to regulate something that has been widely available despite every attempt by law enforcement to stop its sale, and has kept billions of dollars passing through criminal enterprises.

It will take time to do it right. Let’s give it a chance.

Read more editorials here.

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