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EDITORIAL: Positive changes

Renovations have begun at 85D Belvedere Ave. for Charlottetown’s first provincially owned marijuana dispensary.
Renovations have begun at 85D Belvedere Ave. for Charlottetown’s first provincially owned marijuana dispensary. - Tony Davis

Until recently, no P.E.I. government would dare tread into the area of educating citizens on the sensible use of alcohol. But marijuana?

The province has finally approved a number of long overdue amendments to the P.E.I. Liquor Control Act, meant to reduce red tape and update regulations. Government boldly terms them “improvements” to create more opportunities for businesses and they have been warmly received by Islanders.

Some of the key changes make it easier for young musicians to perform in licensed establishments; there is more access to families with minors to attend musical performances; and youngsters can dine with family members in bars and restaurants after 10 p.m.

In another positive step, the province now has a full-time staff resource dedicated to reviewing the act, its policies and consulting with Island businesses. These changes are among the first visible results from a review announced in April 2017.

Two days after announcing those progressive changes, the province issued a surprising news release: “How to talk to your kids about cannabis.” With school graduations approaching, and new federal cannabis legislation pending, a government staffer sat down with a senior high school counsellor to get some tips on how parents can talk to their kids about drugs and alcohol. The interview is informative and helpful. It’s all about making the right choices. Every parent should read it.

Until recently, no P.E.I. government would dare tread into the area of educating citizens on the sensible use of alcohol. But marijuana? Cannabis was long considered the pathway to hell, brain damage, addiction and the road to much stronger drugs like cocaine and heroin.

Few thought the federal government would actually move forward on marijuana legalization or that the provinces would sign on. But the bill didn’t have serious opposition in the Commons although it did face tough scrutiny in the Senate. Bill C-45 finally passed the upper chamber this week by a wide margin and with minimal amendments.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the right decision to delay legalization to Oct. 17, since the original July 1 target is simply too close. Many provinces, including P.E.I., are still finalizing distribution protocols and police forces asked for time to prepare for enforcement.

The delay may disappoint growers, some pot smokers, and perhaps some tourists, but it is necessary.

In a couple of years, many will wonder what all the fuss was about. The moral fabric of society will not shatter. There will be no stampede to get stoned when the recreational use of marijuana in private dwellings becomes legal. Children accompanying their parents into a restaurant at night will be happy to enjoy a meal - with milk. We’re not going to hell in a handbasket just yet.

These prudent measures on alcohol and marijuana reflect the views of the majority in today’s society. For example, selling legal marijuana seems to be a popular career move – as some 1,500 applicants were received by government to staff the four cannabis outlets.

Today, tobacco and nicotine addiction are seen as the real threats to Islanders’ health and well-being.

On P.E.I., yes, the times, they are a changing.

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