With recreational cannabis use set to become lawful across Canada in four short months, the long fought battle over the legalization of pot is nearing its end.
Whether allowing people to legally purchase recreational cannabis will end up reducing the power and influence of organized crime remains to be seen.
What is known is that the impacts of legalization will be felt not only in the legal system but also in a wide variety of other areas, including in the health-care system and the education system.
For his part, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he hopes legalization will have two principal benefits – counter organized crime and keep pot out of the hands of young people.
“It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana and for criminals to reap the profits,” said Trudeau.
Kathleen Ganley, minister of justice and solicitor general, says the provincial government is committed to ensuring that the legalization of recreational cannabis does not negatively impact the lives of residents or the communities they live in.
“The Alberta government is ready to manage legalized cannabis in a way that protects Albertans and promotes public health,” said Ganley. “Once cannabis is legal across the country in 17 weeks, our work will not be over.
“Our government will be watching closely to ensure our legal cannabis system is working, and we will make changes as necessary. The announcement confirming Oct. 17, 2018 as the official date of legalization means our province has the clarity it needs to move forward.”
With the date for legalization now set, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) will begin its related work, including finalizing contracts with suppliers, stocking cannabis and selling and delivering cannabis to retail outlets.
At the same time municipalities across the province, including Mountain View and Red Deer counties, are working on bylaw changes to regulate the use and production of cannabis.
Although recreational cannabis use will be lawful in Canada in a few months, its impacts will certainly be felt for many years to come.
Dan Singleton is the Mountain View Gazette editor.