Editorial – Medicinal marijuana task force

The editorial for Aug. 18 discusses the City's plan to participate in the task force regarding marijuana legalization on Aug. 22.

On Aug. 22, the City of Fernie has their next Committee of the Whole meeting. I attend these meetings regularly, and I’m expecting this upcoming one to be a little different.

The City is planning to participate in the federal government’s marijuana task force, and is hoping to incorporate the views and opinions of Fernieites in their form.

The federal government has set up a task force of eight experts from a variety of fields, including doctors, lawyers and policy makers. The job of the task force is to collect information from across Canada in regards to the legalization of cannabis before submitting a report to Trudeau’s cabinet. Essentially, this task force is laying the foundation for the legalization of marijuana in Canada. This proves that it isn’t a question of if for the federal government – it’s a question of when.

Legalizing marijuana has been a long time coming in this country. I grew up in Grand Forks and we had a reputation for being the little town that first lobbied the government to grow medicinal marijuana in the 1990s. The town submitted a bid to have the first legal grow op, for medical purposes, but ultimately lost out to a town in Saskatchewan.

Since then, there have been numerous dispensaries, providing medical cannabis to people who had a prescription or recommendation from their doctor. Last year, the City of Kimberley amended their own bylaw and provided a business license to a dispensary, even though it was technically illegal under both provincial and federal legislation.

With the federal government embarking on this task force and gathering feedback from Canadians, it shows that legalizing cannabis is imminent. Participating in this task force gives people the opportunity to voice their concerns before the policies and laws are in place. It allows people to tell the government where they would like to see storefronts in their community, if it all, including how far away they would like it from schools. It is an opportunity for people to describe what they would like the tax revenues from the sale of marijuana be used for. It’s a communication channel for people to voice their concerns, however large or small, to the federal government.

As I understand it, City Council is planning to participate as a body, not as individuals, and as residents of Fernie, the meeting is an ideal opportunity to vocalize any concerns to the City. The legislation is not yet set in stone, and it’s easier to influence it before it goes into law than after.

For people who would like to participate individually, more information on the task force can be found at Healthycanadians.gc.ca. The task force is accepting public input until Aug. 29.