In its fall economic statement, Ottawa says that it has $526 million in new funding earmarked for Health Canada, the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency and Public Safety Canada; an additional $20 million coming from existing or internal sources.
The at-a-glance breakdown is as follows:
$432 million for Health Canada
$68 million to the Mounties
$40 million to the CBSA
$6 million to Public Safety
But with legal, non-medical marijuana set to make the Great White North a little more green, Prime Minister Trudeau’s administration is investing a large chunk of that money into teaching the nation’s kids about weed.
Canada’s Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Trudeau’s pot czar (and former Toronto police chief) Bill Blair announced on Tuesday that an additional $36.4 million would go toward a five-year education campaign, aimed at showing the country what safe cannabis consumption looks like.
The campaign will start with a healthy $22.5 million to be spent during the next two years, followed by a $13.9 million injection to continue the education program over the following three years.
The content of the educational programs is yet to be discussed, but it will focus heavily on youth, with an emphasis on fact-based conversations about driving under the influence and other marijuana safety issues. Blair points out that when a substance is a prohibited, most of the public education dollars go to teaching about the legal consequences of breaking the law. On the other hand, a regulated market allows parents, teachers, and health professionals to have open conversations with their young wards about making safe, healthy choices that are right for them.
Health Canada will use its funding to continue rolling out the actual legalization of cannabis by allocating money to licensing and enforcement, as well as public education campaigns. In March, Health Canada began an ongoing digital campaign to encourage parents to talk to their children about cannabis. The next phase, starting in January 2018, will target youth 13-17 years old, and young adults 18-24 years old. One such initiative is the Cannabis Talk Kit, created in conjunction with the Drug Free Kids Canada organization.
Still, the shift from criminalization to education does not mean that Canada is going to forego bulking up its police forces with marijuana-focused personnel. Over $247 million in federal funding will go to assist law enforcement and border patrol agencies in the resistance against the black market cannabis over the next five years.
Alana seeks to see cannabis from the perspective of politicians, advocates, entrepreneurs, and consumers. She got her start with a byline in the arts and culture section and crossed over into cannabis after using it medicinally. Current projects include investigations into cannabis and wellness; entrepreneurs of the Green Rush; cannabis for athletes; and the evolution of cannabis laws and culture in Canada.