As he walked away from several of his campaign promises, including one to change his country’s electoral system to proportional representation, it looked like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might also abandon his pledge to make marijuana legal in Canada.
But he appears to be moving ahead with that controversial initiative. According to CBC News, Trudeau’s Liberal government is poised for an early April announcement that will legalize recreational cannabis in Canada by July 1, 2018 — the 101st anniversary of confederation.
Trudeau has softened both his talk and his legislative agenda since the election of President Donald Trump last November but a pro-pot agenda will potentially put him on a collision course with the new administration and specifically Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has vowed to enforce laws that criminalize possession and use of marijuana.
The pot plan was reportedly unveiled during the Liberal caucus’s retreat in Ottawa last weekend where Liberal Members of Parliament (MPs) learned that the legislation will be officially announced on or about April 10 and will reflect the advice of a federally-mandated task force under the tutelage of former Liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan.
Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, whom Trudeau appointed as a pot point man, was in Ottawa for the weekend retreat to brief the Liberal caucus on how the marijuana bill will unfold next month and over the next year.
The plan calls for the Canadian federal government to maintain “safety” standards for the drug and to license producers. The Canadian provinces will be delegated the distribution and pricing powers.
Ottawa will set a minimum age of 18 to buy marijuana but the provinces could establish an older age requirement.
Canadians who grow their own pot will be legally prohibited from possessing more than four plants per household.
When he ran to be prime minister in 2015, Trudeau’s platform referenced his desire to “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana,” supposedly to prevent children from accessing the drug and keeping the “profits out of the hands of criminals.”
If a marijuana bill materializes next month, the Liberal government will have met its deadline to begin legalizing weed by the spring of 2017.
In recent months, Canadian police forces across the country have continued to raid cannabis houses that are selling marijuana in anticipation of the drug going legal. That enforcement has prompted some to speculate that Trudeau was not going to proceed with his legalization plan.
But Trudeau only suggested that it wouldn’t be appropriate to disregard the legal facts. “Until we have a framework to control and regulate marijuana, the current laws apply,” Trudeau said in Halifax March 1.
The continued enforcement of those current laws has become an issue in the current leadership contest of Canada’s leftist New Democratic Party with British Columbia MP Peter Julian stating on Sunday, “I do not believe Justin Trudeau is going to bring in the legalization of marijuana and as proof that … we are still seeing, particularly young, Canadians being criminalized by simple possession of marijuana.”
The Conservative Party has always opposed both the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. In its current leadership contest, most candidates remain faithful to that policy, but the perceived front-runner, Kevin O’Leary, has embraced legalization. The ‘Shark Tank’ star told The Daily Caller that he supports the changes to the criminal code, but would seek the the opinion of groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving to ensure legal pot doesn’t increase impaired driving.
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