A North Saanich councillor wants the federal government and industry to pay for the associated costs of addiction after Ottawa passes law making recreational marijuana legal in Canada.
Jack McClintock says he’s ready to lobby his municipal counterparts in Greater Victoria, across B.C. and the country, to convince the federal government to commit more tax revenue from the expected sale of marijuana to treatment options for people who can least afford it.
He’s also asking that industry put up a $500 million trust fund that would address the health and addictions effects of their products on society at large.
With Ottawa expected to pass the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada sometime this summer, McClintock said government and industry have not done enough to ensure the impact of that decision, and of the pot products to come, is managed better than other addictive substances of the past.
“They simply need to be held accountable for the treatment of addicted persons,” he said, noting that the legalization of marijuana will add another layer of legal addictive substances on top of alcohol and tobacco.
McClintock said he’s not confident government at any level, or industry, have learned from mistakes of the past, pointing to lawsuits faced by tobacco companies over that legal product’s health and addiction impacts.
His motion before his North Saanich counterparts also called on the federal government to use more pot tax dollars for education and prevention. It was supported by council and will be forwarded on to the other 12 Greater Victoria municipalities for their information.
McClintock, who spent his working career in policing, said his motion is not about prohibition or turning back the clock on federal legalization laws.
“I’ve been neither here nor there (on legalization), but there are many unanswered questions.”
He said he’s not heard from Ottawa or Victoria for that matter, on how government plans to address a potential jump in addictions patients, as well as health-related impacts from increased use of marijuana. He said a trust fund and better allocation of the tax revenue could help meet the tide before it gets to the point that it did for alcohol and tobacco in the past.
“I pray no one becomes addicted, but there will always be people who are,” McClintock said, adding there should be enough resources available for anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.
He added the industry will be out to make profits, of course, but could be doing that without a thought to the impact. He said his motion is not meant at being punitive to marijuana production companies, but simply calls for them to acknowledge the harm marijuana can cause and prepare for what he sees as an inevitable health crisis for some families.
McClintock said he plans to take his motion to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, seeking their endorsement.