Chilliwack-Hope MP speaks out against marijuana legalization

Strahl voted against Cannabis Act concerned about policing, stakeholder issues, access by children

As Ottawa moves ever closer to marijuana legalization in Canada, Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl says he voted against the legislation last week, in part because stakeholders have been ignored.

“The law says that children as young as 18 years old can legally possess marijuana, even though the Canadian Pediatric Society has said the evidence is clear that when youth smoke marijuana before the age of 25 they have increased risks of mental health issues including psychosis and schizophrenia,” Strahl said. “The law also says that it is no longer illegal for children from 12 to 17 to possess up to five grams of marijuana.”

• RELATED: Pot shops speak out on B.C.’s proposed rules on age, retail plan

On Nov. 27, the House of Commons passed the Cannabis Act to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in a vote of 200 to 82. Now the bill is off to the Senate where Conservative senators have threatened to hold up passage.

Among Strahl’s other concerns are that police agencies have reported they lack the tools and resources to conduct roadside drug-impaired testing.

“Provinces, territories and municipalities have all expressed concerns that the costs of compliance with the new Cannabis Act will be downloaded onto them without any regard for the increased costs associated with the new law,” Strahl said.

• RELATED: Pot shops speak out on B.C.’s proposed rules on age, retail plan

He said he also has “significant concern” that marijuana will now be legal to grow in any home, regardless of whether children are present, and regardless of municipal zoning.

“If the goal of the legislation is to keep marijuana away from children, I am unsure how having it grown in their homes accomplishes that,” Strahl said.

As for the threat of Conservative senators to stifle the legislation, Strahl said the Senate is comprised of a majority of Liberals and independents.

“They will make their own determinations as to how they wish to carry out their responsibilities to review this legislation,” he said. “Conservative Senators are committed to responsibly reviewing the legislation and will not be rushed into abdicating their responsibilities because of an arbitrary deadline imposed by the Liberal government.”

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