Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut April 16, 2018 - 9:30 am

Liberal Cannabis Act salesman makes his pitch in Nunavut

Toronto's former top cop Bill Blair says new law will protect children, improve public health

The Liberal MP and former Toronto police chief, Bill Blair, tells Nunavut reporters that cannabis legalization will help keep youth out of the criminal justice system. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
The Liberal MP and former Toronto police chief, Bill Blair, tells Nunavut reporters that cannabis legalization will help keep youth out of the criminal justice system. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

The Liberal government’s proposed new law to legalize recreational cannabis will keep children safe, improve public health and reduce the number of criminal charges laid against otherwise law-abiding Canadians, Liberal MP Bill Blair said April 12 at a meeting in Iqaluit.

Blair, a former Toronto police chief who is now parliamentary secretary to the federal justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, is on tour across Canada to sell the Liberal message on cannabis legalization. About 25 people attended a discussion he held at Iqaluit’s Qamutik building. 

“There’s an overwhelming consensus among concerned Canadians that the current system is not working and we need to do better,” Blair said in an interview prior to the meeting.

He said the current legal prohibitions on recreational cannabis lead to the criminalization of too many Canadian youth.

A 2014-16 Statistics Canada community health survey showed that one-quarter of Nunavut residents age 12 and up reported using marijuana at least once a week over the previous year and one in 10 reported using the drug every day.

“We want to do a better job protecting our kids,” he said.

Under the new legislation people could be fined for cannabis possession in excess of 30 grams, but would not be given a criminal charge or jailed.

Minors would be ticketed, but not be given a criminal record for possession of small amount of cannabis, Blair said. 

Packaging and labeling would also be closely controlled so that the product is not marketed to youth.

The bill would see two new criminal charges created to cover selling cannabis to children and using children to assist in cannabis sales.
“It never will be the government of Canada’s intention to promote the use of this drug,” Blair said.

He said the cannabis that is consumed in Canada is often untested, unregulated and could be laced with other drugs or contain chemicals that shouldn’t be consumed. 

During his day in the Nunavut capital, Blair also met with Aluki Kotierk, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., as well as Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern and Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson.

Bill C-45 passed second reading in the Senate March 22. It is now undergoing review within five Senate committees.

Should the Senate pass the bill, the legislation would return to the House for royal assent.

Following that, Blair said it would take eight to 12 weeks to implement it and allow for legal distribution and sale. 

Currently, the criminal cannabis industry brings in between $6 and $8 billion each year, Blair said. He asserts that legalization will reduce the potential for criminal profits.

He said planned federal taxation on the drug is to be funnelled back into rehabilitation and education. 

But “that’s not in the bill,” Patterson pointed out.

Patterson, who just completed his own tour of Nunavut, has promised to vote against the bill unless “iron-clad” commitments are made to fund treatment centres in the territory.

A GN survey completed last fall showed three-quarters of Nunavut residents support cannabis legalization, though roughly the same number want to see restrictions on its use.

In January, the Government of Nunavut began holding community consultations on how cannabis should be regulated in the territory.

The GN also released a 10-page paper outlining potential ways it could implement the bill.

Blair said sales projections are hard to guess, because criminals aren’t very forthcoming with their sales data.

But he said most jurisdictions are planning to start with a carefully monitored and slow start to distribution and sales.

The same attendee also asked about the security of mail order marijuana.

Blair said the mailing of medical marijuana through Canada Post hasn’t been found to be a security risk since it was legalized, so the government has no reason to think regular mail isn’t a safe option. 

A separate bill, C-46, amends the Criminal Code to cover impaired driving while high on cannabis.

Ottawa will spend $161 million on cannabis-related training and technology for police, Blair said.

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(12) Comments:

#1. Posted by boris pasternak on April 16, 2018

will mr blair, children were suppose not to have any killer cigs either,  this country has been turned upside down by liberals. so sorry i had to work so hard with their campaigns in the past, never again.

#2. Posted by concern parent on April 16, 2018

What has come to our leaders?, how are you going to better protect out kids by making pot more available than it is now? it just going to increase risk!

If you legalize prostitution! do you think you will help our kids or not? I don’t think so, it’s just same as legalizing pot!

#3. Posted by Arctic Bagpiper on April 16, 2018

When one enters to a home,or shack, you will see either a stove, or mini stove burner with a small table, kitchen knives, home made hoses, and dots of weed lined up ready for a full day, plus see tubes of hash oil with small metal rectangular shape or foiling wrap ready for use openly for anyone to see in their homes shacks. Children are not even confused of what is going on and 3 year old can tell you what they are taking as they see this everyday. The homes are scented forever, and nobody is hiding what they are doing….

#4. Posted by Regulation on April 16, 2018

Just for fun, Public Health should do drug testing on children before they start school. This will give the government of Nunavut an idea of how many households smoke weed in their homes around their kids.
Small kids grow up being second hand high all the time. Lots of kids start smoking from age 10-13.
There will need to be alot of education campaign about drugs.

#5. Posted by The Old Trapper on April 16, 2018

As the story states three-quarters of the people who replied to the survey believe that recreational cannabis should be legal. Why?
1. Keeping it illegal is not going to make it go away.
2. It is far less harmful than many alternatives.
3. It will reduce the number of people with criminal records.
4. It removes revenue from criminals.
5. It will provide tax revenue to various levels of government.
6. Regulation will allow better control, both for the product and for who uses it.

In other words the government now believes that adult Canadians are able to make up their own minds and be responsible for their decisions regarding cannabis use.

Senator Patterson, are you listening? We are not children and don’t need your 1950’s reefer madness opinions. Go back to B.C.

#6. Posted by BC guy on April 16, 2018

#5 I agree with your points 100%. Availability in an of itself is not really the issue, this is about controlling a market that is currently out of control.

As an aside, Mr. Patterson hardly represents the views of British Columbians on this issue, as I’m sure you can imagine.

#7. Posted by Northern Inuit on April 16, 2018

this legalization is going to be a cluster*&%$

now besides our RCMP having to deal with drunk drivers, now they will have to deal with impaired and high drivers as well.  would you like your water and sewer truck drivers and swampers stoned?  would you like the person clearing streets with the loader, grader or dozer stoned?  where our children are playing, sliding, walking and running?

yes, I understand legalizing it will bring the price down.  but now we already have Family Members who are smoking dope and spending money on that and then a few days later asking you to borrow money cause they need food.  now they will just spend more money on more dope and then ask you again.  ugh, what a fun cycle.  more kids will have to deal with more dope second hand smoke, great. 

what a cluster*&^% this will be.

#8. Posted by The Old Trapper on April 16, 2018

#6 BC guy, I imagine about now Dennis is wondering if the people of BC will even allow him back into the province seeing how he continues to embarrass himself with his lack of knowledge and constant bloviating.

His nonsensical arguments remind me of the “reefer madness” clip, you know the one with the piano player and the girl. Beware of the evil marijuana. It worked in the 1950’s, and Dennis thinks that it will still work today.

Dennis here is a reminder, your buddy Paul decided not to go ahead with a treatment facility. Why don’t you ask him why Nunavut doesn’t have the treatment facilities that it needs.

Another bit of knowledge, cannabis is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco.

#9. Posted by Reefer Madness on April 16, 2018

@ The Old Trapper - yes Reefer Madness was a piece of reactionary propaganda meant to deceive a generation of youth.

And yes, cannabis is - under certain assumptions - less harmful than alcohol or tobacco (although in my experience, moderate daily use of alcohol is less harmful than moderate daily use of cannabis)

And yes, legalization is on balance a good thing.

But let’s not delude ourselves, this substance can be very harmful.

People at risk of certain mental illnesses should steer well clear, and habitual users should honestly consider whether they understand and accept the mental, emotional, social and financial effects of their habit.

#10. Posted by Home Visits/Parent Input on April 17, 2018

Good effort to tour the north.

Home visits would be good part of the tour, talk one-on-one with the parents in really stink homes that have the knifes on most of the day with hungry kids and infants with full pampers buzzed out 2nd hand.

Parent input is so important, talk to a typical home user in the small communities about how they would like weed delivery, packaging, labeling and quality.

#11. Posted by Granny on April 17, 2018

Continue from #10. And by the time you finish your home visits, you are completely stoned from second hand odor. your eyes are unable to keep open, your lazy, just want to sleep before the end of day. But you know those who don’t use drugs, are just as eager to have stuff at home to keep everybody happy. Because the user gets aggressive when they ran out, and everybody is scared and wishing they never ran out. Drugs are eating your brain, your mind your relationship. silent killer? they call it? So… is it better than alcohol???

#12. Posted by Green Coconut Oil on April 17, 2018

People use cannabis the same way they use alcohol, or even tylenol (both are more harmful incidentally). People who are hurting, in despair or even people who just want to escape and enjoy a period of altered consciousness use substances. Sometimes this is harmful, but it is not always bad.
Personally, I believe that moderate use of the right kinds of cannabis in the right amounts and through the right delivery system can even be beneficial.

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