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This article was published 5/9/2017 (1114 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With national marijuana legalization imminent next July, Member of Parliament for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley Doug Eyolfson decided to bring constituents into the loop on Bill C-45.
Eyolfson hosted a town hall on the finer points of the legalization on Aug. 29 at the St. James Civic Centre, where approximately 100 people turned out to hear about the policy as well as voice their questions and thoughts.
Eyolfson is a clear supporter of the bill, which not only legalizes marijuana for those above legal age but also outlines laws intended to keep users and Canadians safe, something that is impossible to guarantee in today’s illegal market.
"At this moment it’s easier for our children to access cannabis than for them to access tobacco or alcohol," Eyolfson said. "Drug dealers don’t ask for proof of ID."
Eyolfson went to explain that early usage of marijuana has been linked to negative effects in developing brains. For those of legal age, consumption is relatively safe.
"As someone who’s worked in the emergency department for many years, I can tell you that I have never seen anyone who has solely ingested cannabis. I have treated patients who have ingested what they thought was cannabis and was laced with other chemicals," Eyolfson said.
"No longer will buyers have to take a dealer’s word that what they’re taking is safe."
Eyolfson spent most of the evening responding to the many folks who came up to voice their support, dissent or ask questions. The overwhelming majority of those in attendance were pro-legalization.
St. James resident Kris Breckman, 87, compared marijuana and the alcohol prohibition.
"I want to assure you I’ve never ever smoked cannabis and in saying that, I’m not sure if that’s a matter of pride or regret," Breckman said to the crowd.
ALANA TRACHENKO / MP Doug Eyolfon's town hall on marijuana legalization saw plenty of questions and comments, mostly in favour of bill C-45.
"In the States, the consumption of alcohol increased between 65 and 70 per cent during prohibition. I think there’s an important lesson there, and it’s that you can’t regulate those kinds of practices that have become common and acceptable and are pleasurable to a large portion of the population."
However, those against legalization were vocal as well. Several attendees stated that weed is a gateway drug that will cause users to seek out other illicit drugs such as cocaine or heroin.
"Those are very different substances," Eyolfson replied, citing studies that have shown that weed does not lead to use of other substances. When one speaker asked Eyolfson if he had ever used cannabis, he replied:
"I’m going to tell you the same thing as if you had asked me if I was on antidepressants or high blood pressure medication — that’s private."
Wolseley resident Mary LeMaître voiced her concerns about people smoking weed outside, where children and residents can smell and inhale it. Eyolfson responded that if weed is legal, users can ingest it on their property, and that does include yards.
"So people can smoke on their front steps?" LeMaître asked, to which Eyolfson replied affirmatively. He added that smelling marijuana smoke does not mean it’s being ingested, and will not have a physiological effect.
However, he also stated that citizens can still be charged for marijuana use and possession before legalization comes into effect.
"Right now, we’re passing this new law which will have a lot of provisions that will protect the health and safety of Canadians. If we announce that anyone who’s charged before this law takes effect is going to have their charges dropped, we’re basically going to have a wild west. We’ll have a lawless society and it will probably make all the problems we’ve been trying to solve with this worse in the interim."
Community journalist — The Metro
Alana Trachenko is the community journalist for The Metro Email her at alana.trachenko@canstarnewscom Call her at 204-697-7132
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