Pot tracking: federal government looks to set up system for cannabis
Ottawa is planning to set up a cannabis tracking system to collect information about marijuana products from licensed producers, distributors and retailers just one of a host of proposed changes to be ushered in alongside legalization.
Health Canada says the proposed system, which would not track individual cannabis users, would allow businesses and regulators to trace all products and address recalls.
The tracking would also help to ensure cannabis is not being diverted to illegal markets, the department said, given the government's stated and oft-repeated goal of limiting organized crime's footprint in the pot trade.
"Mandatory product track-and-trace systems are common features in other jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis for non-medical purposes,'' the department said.
The specific requirements of the system still need to be developed, Health Canada added, noting similar systems are used in the U.S. to gather information about cannabis products.
The department did not say how much the proposed system would cost only that it intends to offset such costs through licensing and other fees.
The government legislation did not offer any specifics on tax measures for marijuana, which was sure to be difficult to miss Thursday on Parliament Hill as aficionados gathered to mark the annual April 20 pot celebrations known as 4-20.
However, not everyone is cheering the government's legalization efforts.
Alex Newcombe, a 31-year-old medicinal marijuana user, said he is disappointed by the Liberal legislation introduced last week.
"It is not anything other than prohibition 2.0,'' Newcombe said, who is especially upset that the federal Liberals have not taken steps to decriminalize the drug in the interim.
"(Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) could decriminalize it at a moment's notice,'' he said. "He's the one stopping it at the moment we're calling him out on it.''
The federal government has said repeatedly it has no plans to decriminalize marijuana until legalization is in place a goal it hopes to achieve by July 2018.
Trudeau, who admitted to smoking pot after becoming an MP, told Bloomberg on Thursday that Canada's legalization strategy is built around a recognition that marijuana is "not good'' for the developing brains of young people.
"We need to do a better job of making it more difficult, at least as difficult as it is to access alcohol as it can be,'' he said.
Criminal organizations and street gangs collect billions every year from illicit marijuana sales, he added, noting this money is then funnelled into other criminal activities.
"So you put those two things together and realize we have a system that isn't working,'' Trudeau said.
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