Local business owners, health officials, and law enforcement are voicing their concern over Ontario’s marijuana legislation plans.
Ontario intends to open it’s own marijuana retailers and close existing private retailers
Wayne Matheson owns a local head-shop and organizes an annual event to promote the legalization of marijuana. He says the Ontario government’s plans to open its own marijuana stores and close down all the private retailers is flawed.
The age to legally purchase the drug will be set at 19 years of age. By making it a government operation, Matheson says the province believes it is the only one capable of keeping the drug out of the hands of minors. He says for years private operators have been ID-ing customers.
“The corner store beside me, the young people there can ID for cigarettes; two restaurants across the road, a bar and a legion can ID for alcohol. Why am I unable to ID for cannabis?” asks Matheson.
Medical Officer of Health for Peterborough says the health-care community reluctantly agreed to set the age at 19.
Dr. Roseanna Salvaterra says while she can see the sense of making the legal age for purchasing marijuana the same as for purchasing alcohol or tobacco, she has concerns about the effects of marijuana use on young people’s brains.
“The developing brain, up to the age of 25 years of age, can still suffer harmful effects from both intense and frequent use of marijuana and some of those changes to the brain can be severe and irreversible,” said Salvaterra.
It’s the proposed closure of private marijuana retails that’s a concern for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.
Communications director Joe Couto says police forces across the province will face fiscal and manpower challenges if they are expected to shut the shops down at the stroke of a pen.
“We will simply not be able to shut down these establishments overnight. There are a lot of resource implications with that, we are going to continue to talk to the government about supporting the police,” said Joe Couto.
If passed, Ontario’s new laws come into effect in July of 2018.