When Will Canada Legalize Weed?
Canadians on Monday dumped the ruling Conservative Party out of power and installed Liberal leader Justin Trudeau as the new Prime Minister. They took more than 42% of the votes as of late Monday evening, and Stephen Harper has conceded defeat and has stepped down as the party’s leader.
Among Trudeau’s promises is that the Liberal Party will legalize marijuana across Canada. “We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access of marijuana from minors”.
Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.
Arresting and prosecuting these offenses has been expensive for our criminal justice system. It put too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses. At the same time, the proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime and greater threats to public safety, like access to hard drugs for example.
Trudeau says, “To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana”….”We will remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code, and create new, stronger laws to punish more severely those who provide it to minors, those who operate a motor vehicle while under its influence, and those who sell it outside of the new regulatory framework”…. “We will create a federal/provincial/territorial task force, and with input from experts in public health, substance abuse, and law enforcement, will design a new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with appropriate federal and provincial taxes applied”.
Trudeau has said that the country’s prohibition on marijuana has resulted in saddling half a million people with criminal records since the Conservatives came into power in 2006, and that criminalization of the drug costs the justice system at least a half billion dollars a year.
The rise of the pro-choice Trudeau wants to legalize marijuana ‘right away’. While on the campaign trail, he said he would get to work “right away” on a policy to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana sales in Canada. With Trudeau’s election as Prime Minister Tuesday, the big questions now are when and how will Canada legalize pot?
“We don’t yet know exactly [at] what rate we’re going to be taxing it, how we’re going to control it, or whether it will happen in the first months, within the first year, or whether it’s going to take a year or two to kick in,” Trudeau said while campaigning in British Columbia Oct. 1, the CBC reported.
When Trudeau follows through on his campaign promise, it would make Canada the first developed nation to federally legally implement the legalization of marijuana.
The director of communications for Trudeau’s campaign said Liberals would work to design a “Canadian model” for legalization, drawing on models such as the state of Colorado in the U.S., which allows people at least 21 years of age to have 1 ounce of marijuana in their possession.
Roughly 86 percent of Canadian respondents in a recent CBC voter survey favored either legalization or decriminalization of marijuana for personal use. A majority, 75 percent, of the more historically strict Conservative voters now also favor Trudeau’s stance. Only 14 percent of respondents said it should be a criminal offense to possess marijuana.
While campaigning, Trudeau promised to change the policies carried out by the Conservative government under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Here’s some things Justin Trudeau can do right away to get the process of full legalization started.
First, repeal the ban on bongs. A lot of people don’t know that bongs, vaporizers and other cannabis “paraphernalia” are all banned from sale in Canada under Section 462.2 of the Criminal Code. This law also bans books about growing pot and any literature that promotes pot use. The bong and growbook ban was passed by Brian Mulroney, and thousands of cannabis-friendly shops were raided and shut down. Now the law is rarely enforced, although we still see two or three head shops getting raided in Canada every year. It’s time this stupid ban on bongs and cannabis literature was lifted immediately to show good faith. Repealing section 462.2 would be a great first step for Trudeau to show good faith and move towards legalization in Canada.
Something else that can be done now, immediately stop possession arrests. Arrests for cannabis possession have been rising in Canada, and are now 30% higher than when Harper first came to power. Trudeau could immediately end all possession arrests by removing simple possession of cannabis under 30 grams from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). This kind of “decriminalization” is not a long-term solution, but it would send a strong message that Trudeau is serious. Immediate decriminalization would also stop people from getting lifelong criminal records and help redirect police resources towards real crime.
Along with immediately decriminalizing possession, Trudeau should also remove cultivation of five plants from the CDSA. There should be no penalties for anyone growing up to five plants on their own property for personal use. Allowing immediate cultivation of five plants per person also helps provide a legal source of cannabis while waiting for full legalization to come into place. In the long run, growing cannabis at home should be treated much the same as brewing beer or making wine in your basement.
It’s going to take some time to put the rules together for legalization, and many of those rules will need to be set by the provinces and by municipalities. Trudeau should make his intentions clear, and announce a time frame that full legalization will be in place within one year for example.
Provinces and cities across Canada should be given a general outline of federal intentions, and then set a firm deadline such as one year to prepare for legalization. Each province will need to figure out their own taxation level and many other rules. Cities will have to figure out their zoning and bylaws. The federal government will need to work with the provinces and cities to create a harmonious national system with some local provincial variations. This process should begin as soon as possible.
Legalization of cannabis is coming to Canada! Let’s make sure we do it right. We can learn from the mistakes from the American states that have legalized recreational marijuana.
Personally, It still hasn’t fully sunk in that weed will actually be legal in Canada soon. What a change. Finally, the majority of Canadians know that weed is actually a very ‘good’ thing, especially in comparison to tobacco and alcohol, and people are finally becoming aware of how weed has been falsely portrayed by governments and the media for decades for dishonorable/corrupt reasons.
And finally when marijuana becomes legal, remember how McChronalds provided a needed service in an environment of prohibition, Ron, the owner/ operator, took personal risks in terms of literally his freedom and much personal financial risk because he has a passion for his business, to help Canadians obtain a safe high quality product and good service. This is not an easy business to run, but he is doing it. We hope our customers will remember McChronalds, and be loyal, for Ron has worked very hard to run a straight up business and offer the best customer service in the industry. Most of you don’t realize how hard this man works, show your appreciation, remain loyal, and you will always get what you paid for. Cheers.
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