How minority communities are reacting as federal and provincial governments move forward on Bill C-45.
Since MIREMS’s last investigation into coverage of marijuana legalization in Canada’s ethnic media, the onus has shifted to the provinces as they begin planning for July 1, 2018.
As Canada’s provinces begin to unveil their plans for marijuana legalization in Canada, MIREMS has been looking at coverage of these developments in the ethnic media. An analysis of over 800 stories from May to November 2017 show a small shift in opinion.
Ontario makes the first move
Ontario made the first move, rolling out their plans for legislation in the beginning of September. The Ontario government plans to open stand-alone stores. These will all be run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, with a behind-the-counter approach similar to the sale of cigarettes. They are to offer online shopping alongside and initial 80 stores, and the legal age is planned to be 19.
Examining editorial, commentary, letters to the editor and radio phone in clippings from the ethnic media in Ontario brings to light some strong opinions in the province.
In a column for Chinese News, Yuan Xiang criticizes the federal and Ontario Liberal governments for lacking professionalism and the deliberation over marijuana legalization by only focusing on the economic benefits while overlooking the various social problems.
In response to the Village Farm International’s announcement that it will grow marijuana instead of tomatoes after legalization a column on online news site 51.ca was critical saying “Canadians will have to rely on American food that is more expensive; cheaper local fruits and vegetables will gradually disappear from the market.” Many commenters on the article were critical of legalization on the whole. ‘Re Xin Chang’ commented advocating for getting rid of this incompetent government; the comment received 17 thumbs-ups.
An online source from Markham, Ontario – Dushi.ca--Asked in a column if Trudeau was rushing to legalize Marijuana ahead of the 2019 election. In this article, the author says the Liberal government is insisting on legalizing marijuana in Canada despite objections from the Canadian police and local governments. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's marijuana legalization will create international and diplomatic conflicts as drug dealers will likely take advantage of the legislation to export marijuana illegally to Asian countries. It is only a matter of time before the marijuana industry goes international and Trudeau becomes the "marijuana prince."
The regular coverage of the issue was less critical, bringing voices of advocates and medical cannabis users to light.
Albert’s approach is to make the government in charge of online sales, but keep the private sector in charge of retail locations. The Gaming and Liquor commission would keep an eye on private retail stores. The minimum age would be 18, same as the legal drinking age, but it is limitations on use in public places such as schools and hospitals raised some concern. The main concerns within Alberta’s ethnic media are control of legalization, impairment and that the province will be leaving store front responsibility to the already established retail sites.
While the West Coast’s cannabis industry has been around the longest in Canada, they are moving slower to announce plans for next Canada day. A public consultation is underway, and Premier John Horgan has mentioned that they are considering the “mixed model” of government-run and private stores.
Coverage in Vancouver of the issue has been more vocal. On September 19 an article in Sing Tao Vancouver the writer says “the worrying parts of politicians' recommendation in dealing with drug issues are insufficient thinking, entangling in ideological or political considerations, and ignoring of real impacts on people's livelihood.” On November 5 the host of Red FM 93.1 Punjabi Morning said that government won't be able to beat the black market by imposing so many taxes on the legalized pot and making it so expensive. And in July, an editorial in Spanish newspaper Contacto Directo said “there is a concerning level of incoherence in the upcoming regulation on tobacco and marijuana.”
As Canada moves forward towards legalization, public opinion will continue to shift. Deliotte recently said that Canada’s marijuana industry is worth almost $23 billion. As a result, stakeholders in all parts of the growing industry, from farmers to consumers will be paying attention as plans are rolled out, and July 1 2018 rolls around. Though Canada’s cannabis industry is considerably not-diverse, that doesn’t negate these communities pushing to be included in the conversation, hoping to reap some of the benefits as well.
Written by Caora McKenna