Legal pot is a matter of when, not if, senator says

By Carson Deveau

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Ben MacNeill of Charlottetown discussed his views on the legalization of marijuana on Feb. 2. Carson Deveau photo

Feb. 3, 2016

Marijuana legalization will happen soon in Canada, as long as the federal government doesn’t get cold feet, says a P.E.I. senator.

Percy Downe spoke to journalism students about the issue Jan. 25. He favours legalization and says it will bring more good to the country than bad.

Canada will be able to learn from what other countries that legalized the drug did, and be able to see how it worked from them, Downe said.

“Given the other states and countries that have already legalized the sale of recreational marijuana, we will have lots to look at and critic.”

Colorado legalized the sale of recreational marijuana in 2014 and is one of only four American states to do so.

The Denver Police’s Uniform Crime Reporting data provides a crime comparison between the years of 2013 and 2014, the last year marijuana was illegal and the first full year it was legal. The numbers showed both burglaries and robberies decreasing, by 10 per cent and three per cent respectively.

Ben MacNeill isn’t surprised by the stats.

The second-year Holland College student favours legalization. Those opposed to it are likely doing so because they don’t know much about the drug, he said.

“Some people are still old fashioned and have misconceptions about what marijuana does to you and how it affects your mind.”

Even though tobacco harms you more than marijuana, how they sell the drug once it’s legal must be stricter, MacNeill said.

Downe agrees.

The biggest problem holding back legalization is figuring out a way to keep it out of the hands of young people, he said.

“There will be specialized stores where you can buy marijuana products, similar to the ones they have in Colorado.”

With these specialized stores, it also makes sure the product is more pure than what you’d get off the street today and not full of harmful substances, he said.

“With the stores, you can now be sure that you aren’t putting pesticides, or who knows what else, into your body when you are smoking.”