The View From Here – Marijuana’s transition from illicit drug to legal substance is quickly entering the mundane

Tom Henihan

The Government of Alberta has announced a tentative outline for the sale and consumption of legalized marijuana.

Most of what is proposed is predictable, following the same restrictions that already apply to alcohol and tobacco, such as the legal minimum age for the purchase and consumption of marijuana being eighteen.

Consumption by a driver or passenger in a motor vehicle is illegal.

There will also be strict laws limiting the proximity of stores selling pot to schools, playgrounds and other places frequented by minors.

A 30-gram limit for possession in public will apply with no limit on possession in private homes.

Each household is allowed to grow four plants to a maximum of one meter high.

It will be available for retail from specialty stores that are separate from alcohol and tobacco.

The Alberta Government has yet to determine if the government or private interests will run the stores but it has said that the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will serve as the principal wholesaler of all marijuana products.

Still, there are those voicing concern around the legalization of pot.

Mayor of Calgary Naheed Nenshi recommends that the minimum age for marijuana use be at least 21, citing the effects of the drug on intellectual development.

While the Mayor’s concern is well founded and supported by many in the medical profession, the idea of someone old enough to vote being restricted from an activity in which others can engage, seems undemocratic.

The organization Action on Smoking and Health also express fears that legalizing cannabis will normalize smoking again.

To a five-year-old, it doesn’t matter whether it’s someone smoking cannabis or e-cigarettes or a water pipe or a real cigarette, it’s all smoking,” Les Hagen the organization’s executive director told the CBC.

So those are all impressions. Over time, those impressions weaken the resolve of children and they do contribute to the uptake of tobacco use among kids.”

Considering the marked decline in smoking, to my mind, this bogus reasoning has more to do with Action on Smoking trying to stay relevant than any convincing argument opposing the legalization of marijuana.

With relatively little opposition, it appears that the transition from illicit drug to legal substance has quickly entered the mundane with commercial interests talking business models, taxation, growing licenses and so on.

The parlance now attached to the “product,” is so matter-of-fact one could quickly forgetful that up to recently marijuana belonged to a subterranean, stigmatized environment, where those caught partaking were unjustly criminalized.

In all likelihood, many of those who were adamantly opposed to the use and legalization of marijuana are now the entrepreneurial visionaries ready to seize a good business opportunity.

However, apart from the euphoria experienced by many at the financial opportunities created by the legalization of pot, it is still a serious matter with both health and social consequences.

Although marijuana is considered to be relatively benign compared to alcohol, being the lesser of two evils does not render it harmless.

Caveat emptor.

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