EDITORIAL – Press the pause button on cannabis legalization

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Image: CPAC)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

SO NOW Justin Trudeau wants to make some money off the legalization of recreational marijuana.

In a surprise move, he told premiers this week he’d like to levy a 10-per-cent excise tax on pot when it becomes legal next July 1.

This, after having insisted legalization is about common sense, not money.

Governments are commonly blamed for not keeping their promises, but occasionally going back on them is a good idea.

Trudeau’s already done it with electoral reform and some other stuff, and marijuana is another backtrack he should seriously consider.

I don’t mean he should renege on his pledge to legalize recreational weed. No, legalization makes sense.

But insisting it has to happen by next year’s Canada Day is, quite simply, stupid.

There are huge preparations to be made not only at the federal level, but at the provincial and municipal levels where much of the impact will be felt.

In B.C., the provincial government is struggling with how to tax the sale of the product, and how to share revenues.

There are scores of questions that have to be answered.

Where will it be sold? Liquor stores? Bars? Drug stores? Store fronts? Behind the counter at the gas station?

What will be the legal age? What about impaired driving? How will that be measured? How will it be enforced?

How will City councils and regional districts establish zoning for cannabis factories? What about permit fees to cover administration and local- enforcement costs?

No doubt, legalization will open up multi-million-dollar economic opportunities for enterprising entrepreneurs, with huge potential benefits to rural and urban communities alike.

But it also opens up huge challenges. If we don’t do it right, if we don’t take our time, those benefits can turn into major problems.

Trudeau should suck it up and press the pause button on legalization until we’re sure we’ve got it figured out.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear twice daily Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on and CFJC Today. Contact him at

About Mel Rothenburger (6312 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Press the pause button on cannabis legalization

  1. tinfoilknight // October 5, 2017 at 8:40 PM // Reply

    It shouldn’t be more complicated than alcohol. Trying to stall legalization is the same as keeping failed prohibition. Let’s just get this over with and move on.

  2. A philosopher friend once told me people do not really solve problems, they create more.
    So you want pot legalization to be “done right?”
    When was the last time anything was done right? When was last time a problem was solved without causing any unusual side effects?

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