OPINION: BELLEVILLE SHOULD OPT IN FOR RETAIL CANNABIS
Several Ontario municipalities have publicly stated that they plan on opting out of retail cannabis for the first while in order to plan and study how it will work in other municipalities. As much as I'm a fan of "biodome-like" experiments just like any other scientist - wait, biosphere projects haven't been successful, have they? - I would like to shed some light on why I encourage the city of Belleville to opt in for retail cannabis.
There has been some fear revolving around increased crime rates and even some individuals are angry towards the government's apparent love for the cannabis industry versus a perceived disdain for the tobacco industry. We could delve into post-prohibition history, like my last article, for some clues as to why these fears may be warranted or not, but instead let's take a look at a current Health Canada document: Legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis: the facts. Within this federal literature, the Government of Canada outlines the 7 goals the Cannabis Act seeks to accomplish:
1) Restrict youth access to cannabis;
2) protect young people from promotion or enticements to use cannabis;
3) deter and reduce criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those breaking the law, especially those who import, export or provide cannabis to youth;
4) protect public health through strict product safety and quality requirements;
5) reduce burden on the criminal justice system;
6) allow adults to possess and access regulated, quality controlled legal cannabis; and
7) enhance public awareness of the health risks associated with cannabis.
As an innovative, entrepreneurial city, and frankly due to our proximity to black market cannabis sales (future post on this market coming), I think we are held more responsible than other rural economies to be a driving force behind protecting and educating our youth while reducing their access to the illicit, unregulated market. Furthermore, thanks to a biosphere project of sorts - the United States of America - we have hard evidence of safe, regulated, high-quality products being sold in a legal retail setting directly resulting in reduced crime rates.
Either way, municipalities in Ontario have until April 1st to opt-in or out, and only time will truly tell what is best for our community. What I can say is that I am sure some of my 19 classmates in the Cannabis Applied Science post-grad would love the opportunity to stay local after graduation and gain employment in the legal retail market while giving back to our city!
The Feminist of Cannabis
PS: if you're looking for a fun read, check out this Huffington Post article on Biosphere 2 (it took more than three months just to make pizza? (not judging) Side note, 4 women and 4 men entered the 3.14-acre dome; #equality and #math, some of my two favourite things)