There’s a lot going on with marijuana this year.
Last month, the Liberal government in Ottawa announced revisions to the former Conservative administration’s system for medicinal marijuana that will permit authorized patients to grow their own medicinal cannabis. Entirely new legislation that will fully legalize and regulate recreational marijuana is on track to be tabled in Parliament in the spring of 2017. And in the meantime, a polite war of attrition continues between the City of Vancouver’s bylaw officers and storefront marijuana dispensaries that are racking up tickets but mostly refusing to close their doors.
One can be forgiven for becoming a bit confused about current rules and where one should stand to remain on the right side of shifting laws.
This weekend, anyone with questions about all of that has an opportunity to see them answered at the Lift Cannabis Expo happening at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Kirk Tousaw, a seasoned drug lawyer and one of the region’s foremost experts on marijuana law, is scheduled to present at the convention on Saturday (September 17).
In a telephone interview, Tousaw said he plans to talk about the reform process that the Liberal government in Ottawa has initiated to legalize recreational marijuana and, more specifically, the work of the task force heading up that effort. (Dr. Mark Ware, the task force’s vice chair, is also scheduled to speak at the conference on Saturday, earlier in the morning.)
Different stakeholders, industry lobbyists, and special-interest groups of every sort are making recommendations related to how they would like to see a regulatory system for recreational cannabis take shape. He told the Straight he’ll discuss some of those suggestions.
If time permits, Tousaw continued, he’ll also talk about how people continue to be caught up in the criminal-justice system for marijuana offences while the transition to legalization proceeds, and he will make suggestions for how that situation could be improved to minimize the sort of long-term harm that can follow someone apprehended for merely smoking a joint.
“I’m pretty disappointed that people continue to be arrested for simple possession in this century and that people still are prosecuted for it,” he said. “There are lots of ways the government could choose to stop this short of changing the law.”
Tousaw said he also plans to make sure he leaves plenty of time to answer questions from the audience.