REALity September 2018                                                                                           Ottawa, ON

On June 19, 2018, Trudeau’s personally appointed “independent” Senators rubber-stamped marijuana Bill C-45 in a 52-29 vote.

This bill legalizes marijuana for recreational use.

The bill will go into effect on October 17, 2018, because, according to Trudeau, neither the police nor the provinces are ready to deal with this change in the law before that date.  The provinces have the responsibility of regulating how the marijuana regime will operate in each of their jurisdictions in regard to the distribution and sale of the drug.

The police are uncertain how to implement the law, especially in regard to drugged driving.  This is a major concern since Statistics Canada’s National Cannabis Survey released an alarming report in August, 2018 which indicates that 14% of marijuana users who have a driver’s license drive their cars within two hours after consuming marijuana. This is more than triple the rate of Canadians who drive after consuming alcohol in the preceding two hours.  In addition, 5% of Canadians over the age of 14 years stated they had been a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who had consumed marijuana in the preceding two hours.  According to Public Safety Canada, which released its own study last fall, 28% of its respondents had driven high on marijuana and 1 in 10 thought marijuana made them “a better driver”.  Research, of course, shows that marijuana negatively affects reaction time, decision-making, motor skills, co-ordination, attention and judgment.

It is not surprising that the percentage of Canadian drivers killed in vehicle crashes who test positive for drugs (40%) exceeds the number who test positive for alcohol (33%).  At present, neither the government, nor safety organizations have stepped up public safety campaigns on the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana.  Consequently, this revolutionary social policy on marijuana is creating uncertainty and nervousness across the country.

Most important of all, Canadian youth are not ready to deal with the recreational use of marijuana.  Most youngsters believe that marijuana is a harmless drug, and now that the government has decriminalized it, this confirms their misunderstanding of the consequences of smoking marijuana.  Unfortunately, no public awareness for youth, by way of educational programs on marijuana, has been prepared to provide for this change in policy, especially on the fact that marijuana can be harmful.

The Canadian Medical Association has strained mightily to inform the government of the deleterious effects of marijuana on adolescents’ developing brains.  Marijuana use can result in a permanent loss of IQ (6 to 8 points), which can never be regained, even if marijuana use is stopped.  Other studies indicate that those prone to mental problems, such as schizophrenia are more likely to develop this illness when marijuana is used.

It is also alarming that marijuana use is addictive in about 9% of all users, and this rises to 17% for those who start smoking marijuana in early adolescence. Marijuana addiction means that users who develop a dependence on the drug will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it, as well as cravings and psychological dependence, chills, sweats, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, anxiety and irritability.

Marijuana dependence tends to develop slowly.  Months, or even years in some cases may pass before symptoms begin to affect the addict’s life. That is, a teenager may be doing well in school, interested in sports and involved in extracurricular activities, but gradually if smoking marijuana, this becomes his/her constant obsession, losing interest in other activities.

Although the marijuana law makes it illegal for anyone younger than 18 years of age to buy marijuana, there is nothing in the legislation to prevent a young person (defined in the bill as anyone between 12 and 18 years of age) from obtaining marijuana from his home since each household may legally grow up to 4 marijuana plants.  Since the legislation specifically states that young persons, i.e. those 12 to 18 years old, may possess and distribute (share) up to 3 grams (10 joints) of marijuana, this means that many young people will be smoking, sharing and likely selling marijuana in our schools, malls and on the street.  Who is to stop them from doing so?  Not the police, whose hands are tied by this legislation.