While many across Canada are celebrating the legalization of cannabis, Saskatchewan’s justice minister said he wishes it had remained illegal.
Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan joined Gormley Friday morning to discuss the concerns he still has around cannabis. He said his primary concerns are keeping Saskatchewan’s roads and workplaces safe and ensuring cannabis does not creep into schools and the hands of children.
According to Morgan., legalization was done without enough planning and preparation.
“I don’t want to sound like a wet blanket,” Morgan said, “but my preference would have been not to have done it, or not to have done it at this time.”
Morgan said the studies are inconclusive on how long cannabis remains in the body and how long the impairing effects last. He added police drug recognition is also still an issue despite the efforts made by law enforcement agencies.
Morgan said Canada rushed into cannabis legalization when decriminalizing the drug would have been a much better place to start. Had cannabis-related offences simply been removed from the Criminal Code, he said getting caught with cannabis “would be no different than a traffic ticket for going ten kilometres over the speed limit,” without adding the extra issues and complexities of legalization.
“It would have been a reasonable, incremental first step,” the justice minister said.
Asked if legalization will help keep cannabis out of the hands of young people, one of the primary reasons for the move cited by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Morgan said he has his doubts. Alcohol currently finds its way into the hands of high school students through friends and relatives who are old enough to legally purchase it, he said, and there’s no reason to believe cannabis won’t.
“I’m worried about that element of it, and I think that was where the prime minister made a significant mistake,” he said.
Morgan also raised concerns regarding workplace safety. Right now, Morgan said employers can’t randomly test their employees to see if they are impaired.
“The Supreme Court has indicated we don’t have the right in the workplace to have random testing. Even if it’s taken as a condition of employment when a person’s hired, it’s not an enforceable condition,” Morgan said. “The testing that would take place would be after an incident has taken place, which is usually too late.”
The province has urged employers to educate their workers and made efforts to ensure everyone knows their responsibility to arrive at work fit for duty, he said, but the concerns remain nonetheless.