Get ready for legalized cannabis Arnett urges

He thinks it’s time the Town of Ladysmith did some preparatory work

Coun. Steve Arnett doesn’t want to sound ‘moralistic,’ but when he looks at a couple of trends, he thinks it’s time the Town of Ladysmith did some preparatory work for a possible easing of the laws around marijuana use in Canada, and how that might affect youth in our town.

South of the Border, Washington State has already legalized the sale of marijuana, and the Liberal Party of Canada has made ‘smart laws,’ ending a 92-year prohibition north of the border part of its election platform.

If that happens, even though they wouldn’t be able to regulate marijuana, it will be up to municipalities to license businesses that open up to sell cannabis and cannabis related products within their borders.

Arnett wants Ladysmith positioned to do everything in its power to ensure youth are not served when it comes to legalized pot. “People feel it’s quite benign, but I am quite concerned about the effects of mind altering drugs on young growing minds,” he said.

He’s referring to information published by organizations like The American Psychological Association, which raise the alarm about permanent damage that may be done to developing teen brains exposed to marijuana’s active ingredient THC.

An August, 2014 APA report, Regular marijuana use bad for teens’ brains, states. “It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth.”

Dr. Krista Lisdahl, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at the University of Wisconsin goes on to say, “When considering legalization, policy makers need to address ways to prevent easy access to marijuana and provide additional treatment funding for adolescent and young adult users.”

She also recommended governments consider regulating the levels of THC in over-the-counter marijuana, to reduce its potential neurocognitive effects.

“It’s getting to kids and it’s getting to them in ways that are really concerning,” Arnett told council, noting that cannabis ingested rather than inhaled can be more potent and more dangerous. “Edible marijuana is an emerging health issue amongst young people,” he said.

In Canada legal production and sale of marijuana is controlled by Marijuana for Medical Purposes regulations, which replaced an older set of regulations in the spring of 2014. Under the program 55,000 Canadians are authorized to posses medicinal marijuana, and to fill prescriptions by mail order from federally approved producers.

But that description doesn’t fit the picture in Vancouver. According to a recent report in the National Post – Barely illegal: At this point, legalization could only make it harder to buy marijuana in Canada; May 8, 2115 – the ‘medicinal’ label on pot is purely pretense.

“Many Vancouver dispensaries have on site naturopaths to give out prescriptions to any and all comers, even if they forget to fake a serious illness,” states the report.

“Dispensaries have employees stand on the street to hand out promotional cards to draw in new customers, several now have marijuana vending machines and at one, customers can obtain their cannabis by using a claw crane arcade machine.”

A recent ‘sting’ operation in Washington State nabbed four producers who sold marijuana to a person under 18 years old. Arnett shared promotional material used by Seattle distributors, encouraging people to buy and use marijuana, and wondered how the sales pitches would influence youth.

He thinks it’s time Ladysmith began considering that possibility. “It’s going to be part of our culture,” he said, “and we have to be ready for it.”

The web-based ‘marijuana finder’ lists one medical dispenser in Ladysmith – their offices are actually in Duncan – and seven in Nanaimo.